The massive fins of the 1959 Cadillac were divided by twin-bullet taillights, and the engine now had 325 bhp. It was surely the most flamboyant of 1950s American car designs. Sharing the General Motors corporate design, Cadillacs were totally new for 1959. From new tailfins and rooflines to a new engine, Cadillac re-engineered and rethought everything.
The new frontal styling continued the jewel-like look of the previous year, although this time the grillework ran the full width of the car and was no longer encompassed by grille bars and the bumper. Dual headlamps were set into the front fenders under a slight overhang, and below them twin parking/turn signal lamps were mounted in the bumper. The hood was wide and somewhat flat, followed by a greenhouse area using the slimmest pillars yet seen on GM products. On closed models, the wraparound windshield was higher, allowing for a much-improved view of the road. Slender rear pillars and greatly enlarged rear windows allowed for better rearward visibility. Down the side, Series 62, de Ville and Fleetwood Seventy-Five models used a thin stainless strip running from the front wheel opening to the rear bumper, with a Cadillac crest emblem on the front fender under the trim. Fleetwood Sixty-Specials added chrome louvers on the rear door. Eldorado Seville and Biarritz models were decorated only with a wide rocker panel molding and the Eldorado name in block letters behind the front wheel opening, creating a very clean and modern appearance.
At the back ... well, it can't be missed. Tall tailfins made the Cadillac appear as though it could take off at any minute. Beginning near the C-pillar of the roof, tailfins sprouted gradually higher to a point directly above the rear bumper, while the bodyside line tapered down to meet the top of the rear bumper. Within the fin were twin, bulletshaped taillights. The bumper ends were of a square design emulating jet engine exhaust outlets. Above the rear bumper, a trim piece mimicked the jewel-like appearance of the grille. The Eldorado Brougham was once again a very exclusive design. While sharing its front end styling with the rest of the line, its body styling otherwise foretold the 1961-62 Cadillac 4-window, 4-Door Hardtops. Distinguishing features included sculpted body sides, a curved, but non-wraparound windshield, a more angular roofline and smaller tailfins than other '59 Cadillacs. The rear doors were hinged at the front in traditional fashion; as opposed to the 1958 Brougham's rear hinged doors.
Other changes included an all-new powertrain boasting a 390 CID V8 engine producing 325 horsepower in standard trim. Interiors were again upgraded, and the instrument panel continued the horizontal theme. For marketing purposes, series designations were modified to better reflect what the cars were generally called in casual conversation. The de Ville, which had been a sub-series of the Series 62 line, was re-designated as Series 63. The Eldorado Biarritz and Seville, which had also been Series 62 sub-series, were now Series 64 models. Only the Series 62 and the 60 Special continued to use their same series names and numbers, although the 60 Special officially added the Fleetwood moniker in most advertising. The Series 75 Fleetwood was now numbered as a series 6700, and the Eldorado Brougham moved from a Series 70 to a Series 69 designation.
In retrospect, the 1959 Cadillac has become the iconic symbol of everything fifties in America. From the glittery chrome grille to the extravagant tailfins, and all the gadgets and luxury in between, it is a car that defined the entire automotive industry for that era. And it is a car that will live on in popular culture, most familiarly in the form of a pink Eldorado convertible.