Pebble Beach Announces New 2018 Feature: Eisenhower Era Dream Convertibles
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The 1950s in America were a time of unapologetic optimism, excess, and seemingly unlimited prosperity. This mindset was mirrored in everything and anything—but quite literally in the chrome-covered Michigan-made dream convertibles that defined an era. This August, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will showcase these uniquely American masterpieces in a first-time special class: Eisenhower Era Dream Convertibles.
John H. White was just 13 when he saw the first of these dream convertibles at the New York Auto Show. “GM was unveiling something that had never really been seen before,” said White, who is bringing a Buick Skylark, much like the one he saw there, to the Concours. “All of the chrome and bright colors really wowed the public—everyone wanted one.”
During this time, manufacturers aimed to make a car for any and every American dream, and as a new motoring ideal replaced wartime necessity with plush opulence, big-body convertibles were for those that dreamt a little harder. Cars of this time were not concerned with fuel economy or safety. Rather, they focused on style, comfort, and performance. With a distinctive Cadillac, Packard, or Imperial convertible, Americans could park nationalism in their driveway—or travel in style from amber waves of grain to purple mountains majesty.
The Concours will feature nine Eisenhower Era Dream Convertibles, beginning with the GM trio from 1953 that toured the country in the famed Motorama show. All are detailed below.
THE GENERAL MOTORS TRIO
1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Convertible
The flagship of the three convertibles was the Cadillac Eldorado, which made its debut as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inaugural ride. That brand-new, gleaming white Cadillac—the first production Eldorado (serial no. 2 of 532)—is headed to the Concours this August. Ringing in at an astronomical $7,750—more than the Fleetwood Limousine—the luxurious car was far from understated. The torpedo-inspired bumper guards and the striking tailfins soon became hallmark Cadillac styling cues. Gold chevron emblems, commemorating the marque’s 50th anniversary, finished off the opulent look.
1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta Convertible
The Oldsmobile Fiesta had a lesser price than the Cadillac, but with only 458 examples ever made, it was the rarest of the trio. The Fiesta had a special 170 hp variant of the Oldsmobile Rocket V8 and a host of luxury features—along with a $2,500 premium—to differentiate it from the 98 it was based on.
1953 Buick Skylark Convertible
The most widely sold trio car was the Buick Skylark, which started life as a Roadmaster Convertible before extensive customization at the factory. A four-inch cut to the windshield, swooping beltline, stainless steel Buick sweep spear, and Dayton chrome wheels made the Skylark look low, wide, and luxurious.