The ’50s were a golden age for convertibles, and none of these mixed performance and luxury better than the ’54 Eldorado and the ’57 Thunderbird. Both cars managed to put together powerful engines and unique features into small packages, but which one was better?
1954 Cadillac Eldorado
The ’53 model was a hand-built masterpiece offering the best the brand had to offer, but it came with a staggeringly high sale price. For the following year, Cadillac switched to a mass produced body, adding a heavy dose of chrome and brushed stainless steel to the Series 62 to create a car that cost 40 percent less than its predecessor. It was the best Cadillac at a time when Cadillac was the best luxury brand in the world.
The Eldorado’s 331-cubic inch, 5.4-liter, V8 produced either 215 or 230 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful engines on the market. This was mated to a four-speed automatic giving it superior drivability over the two-speed slushboxes most buyers had to put up with. The interior had power everything, plus an auto-tuning radio and a sensor that automatically switched off the high beams as cars approached.
1957 Ford Thunderbird
The Thunderbird’s final year as a Corvette beater was ’57, but it didn’t go out quietly. Along with some minor styling changes, there was a major change under the hood: aside from a handful of 289’s produced at the start of the year, the 312-cubic inch, 5.1-liter, Y-block, V8 was now standard. The base model put out a respectable 215 horsepower with tuning options bringing power up to 245 and 270 horsepower. 200 supercharged cars were also built to meet NASCAR production requirements. Ford claimed the engine produced 300 horsepower, but real world performance is closer to 340 with 0 to 60 mph times in the 6-second range.
The 1957 T-bird also came with all the luxury features Ford had at its disposal including a radio that automatically increased volume as the car went faster and the “Dial-O-Matic” seat that moved back for easy entry and exit, then returned to the set position when the car was stared.
What a difference three years make! The Eldorado may have been the ultimate car in its day, but a massive leap in performance lets the Thunderbird leave it in the dust without losing the luxury trimmings that make both cars so unique.
We would love to hear from you. Which car do you feel was the better classic car. Let us know in the comments area below or on our Cool Rides Online Facebook Page.
Powered by Facebook Comments