Cadillac Jacqueline – An elegant coupe worthy of America’s First Lady

 

The year 1960 was drawing to a close, and with it the current contract between Pininfarina and General Motors. According to this contract, the Italian craftsmen undertook to provide the bodies for a special series Eldorado Brougham, produced in limited edition. And Pininfarina successfully coped with this task. As the Turin studio did not want to lose such a generous and prestigious client, it was made an obvious decision – to show the Americans that Pininfarina still has a lot of ideas for Cadillac cars.

The simplest solution in such a situation was to create a concept car, whose serial heirs could replace the retiring Eldorado Brougham. In order not to misfire, Pininfarina prepared at once two impressive concepts for the Paris Auto Show 1961, one of which will be discussed. In fact, the coupe, unlike a conceptual sedan, has received not only stunning design, but also the most beautiful name – Jacqueline.

It is easy to guess that the concept owes its name to Jacqueline Kennedy – the wife of the 35th U.S. President John Kennedy and the First Lady of the State. For a long time Jacqueline Kennedy has been considered in America a style icon, a model of benevolence and modesty. Pininfarina designers tried to embody the same qualities in the coupe, seamlessly combining trends of American and European design schools.

Twin headlights are traditional for Pininfarina. Massive radiator grille. Thin roof pillars. Flowing stern taillights. Very selective, moderate use of chrome. Clean lines. Not surprisingly, at the Paris Auto Show Jacqueline concept drew exceptionally rave reviews, not only from casual visitors to the show and the press, but also from General Motors.

For the show, the concept was painted in a traditional for Cadillacs Ermine White color, subtle attractiveness of which enhanced the elements of polished stainless steel. The interior, to contrast with the body, was trimmed with black leather and decorated with chrome details. At the front, separate half-bowl seats with a large center armrest were installed, a solution more common on European cars than on American ones.

The spacious rear row, on the other hand, was completely devoid of seats – its place was taken by a spacious luggage shelf. Travelers were supposed to be able to stow leather suitcases or, at worst, golf bags on it. Although an additional sofa for the passengers was really urged there.

The Jacqueline concept did its job – General Motors and Pininfarina came back to the table. Moreover, some design decisions which were embodied in the car, were later realized in the production Cadillac models. After the exhibition, the car went back to Pininfarina, where about 30 years stood in the vaults of the museum and very rarely appear in the light. The situation changed in the nineties, when a wealthy American wanted to buy the car.

And then one problem became apparent. Since the Jacqueline was created exclusively for the exhibition, the car had no transmission or engine. The steering was absent as such. The concept was rolled up to the stand of the Paris Auto Show by hand, as a big toy. Fortunately, custom chassis made up for the missing “gaps,” so when the Jacqueline arrived in the States, it began to be completed with Cadillac components.

Despite the fact that it was almost the millennium, craftsmen tried to use the parts that corresponded to the early ’60s. The 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz donated most of the components to the Belle-Jacqueline, including chassis fragments, wiring, and suspension trivia. The engine of choice was a 6.4-liter V8 from a 1959 Series 62. Its horsepower in its youthful years was 325 horsepower.

Since then, few people had heard of the beautiful concept. I guess it never changed owners.

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