19-20 January 2017
Offered from a Private Collection
1955 Cadillac Series 62 Eldorado
- Chassis no. 556250969
Sold for $110,000
- Offered from a private collection
- Originally delivered to silent film legend Norma Talmadge
- Cadillac’s most luxurious, top-of-the-line model
- A high-quality sympathetic restoration of an excellent original car
- A prestige Cadillac with genuine star power!
General Motors scored a hat trick with its 1953 Motorama traveling show. All three of the upscale divisions, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac, had prestige convertible “idea cars,” dramatic in design but close enough to the production models that they were ready to manufacture. Named Fiesta, Skylark, and Eldorado, respectively, they entered limited production during the year. Based on the Series 62 convertible, the Eldorado differed in having a wrap-around windshield, a portent of GM’s future, as well as a distinctive dipped cockpit contour and a hard “parade boot” to cover the top when lowered.
For 1954, all Cadillacs had wrap-around windshields, and the Eldorado adopted the standard 62 body contours. Distinctive side trim now distinguished the car, and at just $1,300 more than the 62 convertible, it was much more affordable. For 1955, the Eldorado previewed the “rocket ship” tail fins that would eventually be adopted across the board, and Sabre Spoke cast wheels replaced the wire wheels of earlier Eldorados. A higher-performance engine with dual four-barrel carburetors was now standard and exclusive.
Dr. Carvel James, a Beverly Hills physician, took delivery of this car on 8 March 1955, for his wife Norma. Born Norma Talmadge on 2 May 1894, she was pushed by her mother into acting, and by 1912 she had played bit parts in more than 100 films. Her big break came in 1915, with Vitagraph’s The Battle Cry of Peace, an anti-German propagandist drama. After 250 more films, she returned to her East Coast birthplace and met Broadway and film producer Joseph M. Shenck. They were soon married, and in 1917 they established the Norma Talmadge Film Corporation, for which she was the brightest star. Transitioning to talking pictures in the late 1920s, she saw her acting career ebb, and Norma retired in 1932. After divorcing from Schenck in 1934, she married comedian George Jessel; the couple parted in 1939 and in 1946 she married Dr. James.
Alas, Talmadge did not enjoy her Cadillac Eldorado for long. In ill health for most of her later life, she passed away on Christmas Eve, 1957. Her widower, however, kept the car for many years. He died in 1980 and the car passed though one more long-term ownership before acquisition by the consignor more recently.
As offered, it is a well-cared-for original car, repainted in the original Alpine White. It has its original black-and-white leather interior, showing use but no significant wear. Features include power steering, power brakes, power windows, power seat, windshield washers, and a Wonder Bar signal-seeking radio. A Clardy air conditioning system has been added for passenger comfort. The engine compartment is clean, but has not been detailed, and shows use commensurate with the displayed mileage, now just slightly more than 32,000.
This beautiful Eldorado boasts a wonderful Hollywood history and sympathetic restoration. What could be better?
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