1957 Cadillac Fin
The horsepower ratings were 300/325 for 1957, when compression went from 9.75:1 to 10:1. The line was again rebodied, emerging with blockier but still evolutionary styling inspired by the Orleans, Eldorado Brougham, and Park Avenue show cars of 1954-55. Reaching into the luxury stratosphere, Cadillac unveiled a production Eldorado Brougham priced at a princely $13,074. Like its Motorama namesake, it was a surprisingly compact, low-slung pillarless sedan with a special 3200mm-wheelbase chassis, center-opening doors, and a brushed stainless-steel roof (one of Harley Earl's favorite touches). Standard quad headlights were an industry first shared that year with Lincoln, Nash, and some Chrysler Corporation cars.
The Brougham's most intriguing mechanical feature was its unique air suspension, the work of engineers Lester Milliken and Fred Cowin. Based on systems used for commercial vehicles since 1952, it employed an air "spring" at each wheel comprising a domed air chamber, rubber diaphragm, and pistons. Fed by a central air compressor, the domes were continually adjusted for load and road conditions via valves and solenoids for a smooth, level ride. Cadillac's system differed from "air ride" options at other GM divisions in being "open" (taking in air from outside) rather than "closed." Unhappily, cost and complexity were too high relative to benefits. The air domes leaked, and dealer replacements were frequent, leading many owners to junk the system in favor of conventional coil springs. Four years later, Cadillac and GM abandoned air suspension altogether.
After two years and 704 units, the Brougham was fully restyled and its final assembly farmed out to Pininfarina in Italy. Only 99 were built for '59, another 101 of the near-identical '60s. Though clean-looking (lines actually previewed Cadillac's 1961 styling), these were larger (3302mm wheelbase) and heavier cars that weren't put together very well (bodies contained lots of lead filler). They're collector's items now, but restoring one is a chore.
1957 Cadillac Notes