When Harley Earl, the legendary head of GM’s Art and Color division, retired in 1958, his successor was a 46 year old stylist named Bill Mitchell. Mitchell was seen was recruited to GM in the 1930’s as Earl’s protégé. Mitchell was undoubtedly influenced by Harley Earl, but very soon after his appointment to the head of styling, Mitchell looked to distance himself from the excesses of chrome and fins that were the signature of the Earl era. Mitchell was heavily influenced by nature and by his trips to Europe, and this influence began to appear in his designs as early as 1960, when the flamboyant Cadillac Eldorado was subtly tidied up notably losing the signature bullet tail lights. For 1961, Cadillac completely redesigned the Eldorado which was graced with an all new body by Bill Mitchell. The new, top of the line Eldorado Biarritz hit the streets with a more rakish and efficient design. The laid-back, split grille and cut back fenders gave the impression of forward motion. A subtly curved windshield and signature bent a-pillars provided a rakish profile. Fins were still a prominent styling feature, but they were toned way down for 1961. One of Mitchell’s trademark styling elements was the “Sheer Look”. He minimized the broad shoulders and created a sleeker, more slab sided and modern design. The resulting car was distinct, beautiful and one of the finest expressions of mid-century modern automobile design.
The Eldorado Biarritz Convertible was at the top of Cadillac’s offerings for 1961. It was built at a time when Cadillac still upheld its “Standard of the World” approach to building cars. The 390 cubic inch V8 mated to a Hydramatic transmission gave 325 horsepower in near silent luxury. Special rubber-coated coil springs replaced the troublesome air suspension of earlier cars, delivering an equally smooth ride. The Biarritz got an extra dose of luxurious equipment and a beautiful splash of chrome trim on the body sides. 1,450 Eldorado Biarritz models were made in ’61, and typically for GM at the time, the model was refreshed for the next year.
This stunning example is finished in it's rare, original color combination of Topaz Poly, an Eldorado only color, with matching wheel covers and leather interior. Fully restored to a very high standard and having seen light use since, this Cadillac is simply stunning and ready for the road or show field. The paint is exquisite and perfectly suited to the iconic Bill Mitchell lines. Panel fit is excellent and paint quality is simply above reproach. The extensive chrome trim has been lovingly restored and precisely fitted. Under the hood lies the correct 325 horsepower 390 V8, impeccably detailed to a high standard. The leather interior is color-keyed, in beautiful condition, and the whole package is set off nicely by a correct white convertible top. As this is an Eldorado Biarritz, it is fully loaded with power equipment: power top, 6-way power seat, power windows (including electric vent windows), power steering and brakes, air conditioning and Autronic Eye are all fitted. This example is wearing radial white wall tires to add a bit of modern comfort and safety to the drive. This Cadillac is no trailer queen; it has been restored to a high level but restored to be driven and is ready to be enjoyed on the road, where the incredible ride, powerful V8 and silky transmission combine to create a uniquely American – uniquely Cadillac experience.
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