1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Simply Awesome - Excessive and outrageous styling with the world’s largest tail fins

Cadillac Coupe de Ville (1959 version), front angled, Port Melbourne Pier. Photo taken Mar 2020

(Click on photos to enlarge) - Images free to share and distribute but please acknowledge driverclassics.com.au

About This Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Our 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville was meticulously restored in Adelaide, SA around the early nineties. Ralph Plarre of Essendon, VIC acquired the 1959 Cadillac soon after completion of the restoration. Ralph was also president of the Cadillac La Salle Car Club of Victoria at the time.

1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville under restoration. 1959 Cheverolet Impala under resotration.
During restoration in Adelaide, SA early 90's. In the picture on the right, a 1959 Cheverolet Impala sits left of our '59 Cadillac.

Ralph’s 1959 Cadillac was not actually for sale but during a casual conversation with Ralph about the car and how hard it was to find a top condition Cadillac, Ralph surprisingly said that he may agree to sell it as he had plans for another Cadillac. Driver Classics subsequently purchased the ’59 Cadillac from Ralph in 1997.

The 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville is powered by a 390ci V8 petrol engine with a 4 speed Hydra-matic automatic transmission.

The Story

Founded in 1902 by precision craftsman Henry Martyn Leland, Cadillac has always been and still is, a leader in automotive design, earning the title “Standard of the world” in the early part of last century. Cadillac was named after Frenchman Le Sieur Antione de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of Detroit, Michigan USA where the company is headquartered.

Page from 1950 Cadillac brochure. Reads
1950 Cadillac brochure page

Leland was a master of precision and he brought that precision to his new Cadillac car with the mantra “Quality first, price second”. Leland sold Cadillac, by this time highly profitable, to recently established General Motors in 1909 and along with his son Wilfred, continued to independently run Cadillac as part of GM. In early 1917, the Lelands parted ways with General Motors but in September of that same year, Henry Leland started another new high end motor car company; Lincoln.

Pages from 1952 and 1953 Cadillac brochures.
Left 1952 and right 1953 Cadillac brochure pages

Ford went on to take over Lincoln Motor Company and today both Cadillac and Lincoln are the sole surviving US high end brands from that era with others such as Packard, Auburn, Pierce-Arrow, Duesenberg and Stutz, all but a memory.

Page from 1957 Cadillac brochure. Reads
1957 Cadillac brochure page
Cover from 1957 Cadillac brochure. Reads
1957 Cadillac brochure cover

Cadillac continued building world leading cars with the V8 in 1915, a V12 and even a V16 in 1929; the electric self-starter, automatic transmissions and air conditioning were all on offer well before most others. In the late 1940s, Cadillac introduced a small tail fin to its cars, inspired by aircraft of the day but with the decade of the 1950s dawning, there was no room for being conservative.

Then 1959 came!

1959 Cadillac Eldorado publicity photo
1959 Cadillac Eldorado publicity photo
General Motors (GM) advertising illustration for the full 1959 range of cars – Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac, Pontiac convertible, Oldsmobile and Buick
GM advertising for the full 1959 range – including Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac, Pontiac convertible, Oldsmobile and Buick

Simply awesome - Excessive and outrageous styling with the world’s largest tail fins on a production automobile! Cadillac’s design philosophy at the time was heavily influenced by jet aircraft and the global space race. This can be seen in the tail light design representing the exhausts of a jet.

The ’59 Cadillac represents the pinnacle of post war prosperity in the USA. At a time when the rest of the world was rebuilding, Cadillac was setting the trend for future consumerism.

Cadillac Coupe de Ville (1959 version) brochure
1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville brochure page
Page from 1959 Cadillac brochure. Reads
1959 Cadillac brochure page. Note available accessories (options).
Rear profile photo showing and/or comparing the fins of 1959 Cheverolet, 1959 Cadillac and 1959 Buick cars.
1959 ‘fins’ for GM’s Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac

The Cadillac Coupe de Ville measures 18 foot 9 inches and weighs in at 4750 pounds, a large vehicle even for its day.

Cadillac’s total production in 1959 was 129,923 cars and 21,924 were Coupe de Villes. Notable options on the ’59 Cadillac’s were cruise control, ‘Autronic Eye’ automatic headlights and air suspension, all features that were way ahead of their time.

Cadillac’s 1959 advertising says: “In its great beauty and majesty…in its fineness of performance…in the elegance of its Fleetwood interiors…and in the skill of its craftsmanship…it is far and away the finest fruit of Cadillac’s unending quest for quality.”