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Cadillac Garage: 1955

Cadillac Garage: 1955

Circa 1955, our second example from a series of 8x10 photos labeled "Cadillac 1951-56" and bearing a "Ford Styling, Dearborn" ink stamp. View full size.


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Fifties AC

My mom had a 1957 Lincoln with AC in the trunk. It could probably have made ice cubes, but didn't dehumidify the air too well. When was really hot and humid outside,it would actually snow inside the car. We thought that was a lot of fun - snow in the middle of an Oklahoma summer!

Absolutely Stunning Cadillac

VictrolaJazz, your Cadillac is so beautiful and in such lovely condition. The interior is astonishing; I've never seen a leather interior to match it. The red interior with the white exterior make a super attractive combination.

You are a lucky man to have such a car, and you are to be commended for sharing your car with us.

What a stunner!!!

From Autronic Eye, to Guide-Matic

Autronic Eye became Guide-Matic (so called because it was designed and manufactured by GM's Guide Lamp division) in 1958. It utilized a much slimmer dash-mounted photoelectric sensor, and added a knob on the back for adjusting its sensitivity. Later in the '60s, the sensor moved into the grille, and the adjustment was through a ring around the headlight switch knob. Autronic Eye, and later Guide-Matic, were also available for many years on other GM makes (even Chevrolet), but it's most commonly seen on Cadillacs.

[Autronic Eye became Guide-Matic for the 1960 model year. This GM product was also offered on Ford cars starting with the 1957 Lincoln. - Dave]

Last Year, First Year

1956 represented the last year of a three-year styling cycle for Cadillac that began with the 1954 model. It was also the first year that the revolutionary new-in-1949 overhead valve V-8 received a displacement increase from 331 to 365 cubic inches, also increasing horsepower to 265 and 300 for engines equipped with the two four-barrel carburetors, standard equipment on Eldorados and optional on all other models. The four-speed Hydra-Matic, called Jetaway, also received a thorough revamping and the addition of a Park position on its shift quadrant.

Here's my own 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Although it is a de Ville, it was ordered with every available 1956 option, including a special-order interior and the Eldorado engine and wheels:

Labor Intensity

When I see something automotive from that era I think of the number of discrete parts which made up, say, the grille/front end, and how much effort that took in the assembly phase. As labor costs have risen, the number of parts that meet on the assembly line has been reduced to a trivial portion of what went into one of these behemoths.

Don't make her angry

I got a total "Christine" vibe from this series.

Caddy options

As arizonacal pointed out, the optional air conditioning unit was in the trunk of these vehicles. Fresh air was supplied to the unit via two intake vents, one each on the exterior sides of the rear window (visible in the previous image of the 56 Eldo). Cold air was passed into the passenger compartment from the trunk area via two clear plastic ducts, visible in this picture on each side of the rear seat. Absent on this 56 but visible on the Eldo is the optional Autronic Eye automatic headlight dimmer. (It’s hard to imagine that guys were paid to sit around and think up these weird product names.) The device didn’t last long and soon went the way of Packard’s radar brake. There seems to be more than a little interest in the 54 in the background.

[Note that the Eldorado sports the AC intakes but not the plastic ducts, which were used only in sedans. -Dave]

A Pretty Grille

This picture takes me back. I saw the front of this Cadillac and thought to myself that it was a 1956. My mother had one and I learned to drive it. It was big and smooth. Drove like a flying carpet. The air conditioning was in the trunk. The picture could very well be in 1955 because the '56 models debuted in September of 1955.

Cadillac vs. Lincoln

I love Cadillacs, but I have to say that the 1956 Lincolns were much more modern looking.


Ah, yes, back when cars had faces (or perhaps grimaces, as in this case). The stark dead-on view adds to the menace. I'm told that those big chromed lumps on either side of the grill were called "Dagmars" in tribute to the, um, physical attributes of a popular TV performer of the period. These examples, however, look more like big tusks of some sort.

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