Monday, August 8, 2011

A Biarritz for Bill

Being a devoted gearhead and rather known for it, I do get some delicious emails. Like the above teaser shot from a friend asking if it could be possible that this highly unusual barn find '61 Eldorado Biarritz could be a factory job instead of a backyard custom. Looking at the details, I said most assuredly and asked for some additional photos. When they arrived, I grabbed the laptop and stopped in to see my neighbor, retired GM Stylist Blaine Jenkins. We went over them together and came to the same conclusion- yes, it was.

Blaine said he recalled the car as being done for Bill Mitchell to test some styling ideas, most pointedly the radiused wheel arches that appeared for 1964. Notations of special features below. Please let me know if I missed anything.

First off are the wheel arches, beautifully crafted. The upper side trim predicts the 1962 Biarritz. Also notice that the entire lower body is trimmed in extruded aluminum. Blaine says the car stood on genuine wire wheels originally.

From the rear. ELDORADO nameplate is offset to the right side and flanked by yet-to-debut wreath and crest. Back up lamps replaced by a second red lens. Color inset molding seems wider than stock, and did you notice that the fins are bereft of their repeater lamps? Possibly a nod to the dwindling popularity of the tailfin.

Prototype steering wheel or retrofit? Veneer trim on dash is attractive. Look down at the extruded aluminum and leather floor covering- a VERY typical Design Center touch. And what do I see to the far right? Could it be the shifter peeking up out of the console? Yes, this is a FLOOR SHIFT Eldorado.

Totally custom door panel- unique door handle attached to special rolled cove. Beautiful custom wood inlays front and rear that match the dash and look at those thick leather hides. Totally custom armrest with that sexy reflector. Delicious.

Totally unique bucket seats with a biscuit and bolster pattern reminiscent of a Continetal Mark II. Console looks like it came from a Starfire- looks great with the wood trim. best of all is the patina of the leather. To quote lady Gaga, it was born this way.

Dramatic as hell. Does anyone remember this car? If you do I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Very interesting '61 Cadillac! Great sleuthing on your part. How awesome to have a retired car designer nearby! The only part that strikes me as not very "Mitchell" is the Fleetwood wreathe-and-crest on the trunklid. I don't remember Mitchell using asymmetry very often—too Exner for him! It also doesn't relate very well to the lock cylinder and taillights, but could easily have been added later. The lower skeg fin on the '61 and '62 Caddys works so well with the regular fins. Those 2 years are some of my favorite Caddys. I hope it's treated well from now on!

    Reminds me of a photoshop creation of mine. I modified a '59 Coupe de Ville to look like a barnfind of a GM styling exercise for a more "personal" Cadillac coupe, a TBird competitor perhaps. I had fun adding the duct tape and rust, lol:

  2. Actually the right rear corner signature was Mitchell's favorite, especially for Eldorado. And the wreath and crest was a placement exercise- leading up to their introduction in 1963.

    Your Coupe de Bird is fun..

  3. Hello. Im new to this forum, and found it looking for photos and info. on this `61 El Dorado show car. What a find! One element not mentioned by the owner is the fact that this car utilizes a `62 front clip. The grill appears a little different than production `62s, and work well in 'forcasting' what was to arrive that year. I cant believe this car is so complete. Loaded with items not seen on production models, this car would be spectacular fully restored.