The Myth of the Eldorado

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Many classic cars have an interesting history and the Cadillac Eldorado is no exception.It begins with a small controversy and a competition. Contrary to what was reported by Palm Springs Life magazine at the time, the Cadillac Eldorado was not named after the Eldorado Country Club in Indian Wells, California. With a little research, anyone at the time would have discovered that the country club didn’t open until 1957, five years after Cadillac held the naming competition that gave birth to the Eldorado name.

Apparently the country club was a favorite haunt for General Motors executives. Unfortunately, the magazine took too many liberties and assumed too much. And became a humorous side note in the car’s history.

The Eldorado CompetitionThe Cadillac Eldorado name was actually coined following an internal naming competition for an upcoming concept car in 1952. The concept’s inception came about as a tribute to Cadillac’s golden anniversary. The concept led to a limited-edition convertible introduced in 1953.

The winner of the naming competition was a secretary in Cadillac’s merchandising department, Mary-Ann Marini.

Ms. Marini, using two Spanish words, created a contraction that translates as “the gilded” or golden one. El Dorado also refers to the South American “Lost City of Gold”, long searched for by Spanish explorers. And so began the story of the Cadillac Eldorado.

History and StylingOne of the classic Eldorado's offered by Vinty and featured in the photography here is a 1976 model. The body style of the 1976 model originated in 1971 as the seventh generation in the car’s lineup, with Cadillac selling 27,368 cars after the new body style was introduced. The following year, Cadillac sold a little over 40,000 Eldorado’s. Subsequently, Cadillac went on to make facelifts to the Eldorado in 1973 and 1975.

Remarkably enough, a 1973 Eldorado was chosen as the pace car for the Indy 500. Whether it was the facelift or the car’s appearance at Indianapolis, sales soared to 51,451, equaling over one-sixth of all Cadillac sales.

As you look at the 1975 Eldorado, styling updates for that model year were rectangular headlights, rear wheel openings minus the fender skirts and crisper body lines. These may seem like minor updates but it made for a more visually appealing car which some say carried design cues reminiscent of the 1967 through 1970 models.

Vinty’s Eldorado isn’t an Indy 500 pace car but it is available for rent in Los Angeles. Check it out and get your reservation in now.