Cadillac Collectors Convene at Pebble Beach
– Two California collectors’ cars to be featured at historic Cadillac display
– Cadillac unveils design concept car at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
DETROIT – Only the most historically significant and finest examples of automotive artistry make their way to the famed 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Two long-time Cadillac collectors from California will complete that journey this weekend, displaying their vintage convertibles alongside the Cadillac Ciel design concept.
Dave Ventresca’s yellow 1953 Eldorado will be displayed along with Mike Porto’s 1962 triple-heather Eldorado at the Cadillac Heritage Display during the concours Saturday and Sunday. The Ciel was unveiled Thursday.
“These open-top Cadillacs provided inspiration to the Cadillac Ciel concept car, and are truly iconic American luxury car designs” said Ed Welburn, General Motors vice president of Global Design. “They connect the classic Hollywood-era designs to the modern-day Cadillac Art & Science design language of the Ciel concept, which suggests where the brand can go in the future.”
A Long Road
Getting to Pebble Beach concludes a long journey for both the cars and the owners who spent years restoring the cars from the ground up.
No. 337 of only 533 made, Ventresca’s artisan ochre 1953 Eldorado was hand-built in Detroit with a 331 cubic-inch OHV V-8, four-speed automatic transmission, and has a custom interior with power seats, windows and top. It was originally delivered to a dealer in Los Angeles.
“This was a very exclusive car when it was built and it catered to an affluent set, which was really coming out in America at that time,” Ventresca said. “As for the design, it was very much inspired by the Cadillac Le Mans concept and was as close as you could get to getting your own custom-built Cadillac from the factory.”
An advanced design, the 1953 Eldorado’s height was five inches lower than the standard Cadillac Series 62 models, and featured a lowered chassis, cut down windshield, wire wheels, a body-color concealing tonneau cover, and “Dutch Darrin” doors – a distinctive cut and curve along the door line that would be popularized in later Harley Earl designs.
Carrying on a Tradition
The journey for Porto’s 1962 Eldorado also began in a southern California, but was discovered up to the floorboards in mud at a salvage yard. Another Cadillac collector, Mark Gebhart, had deciphered its trim tag, discovering it was one of only 21 triple heather Eldorados believed to have been built that year.
Porto would work alongside Gebhart for several years, learning the intricacies of restoring vintage Cadillacs. When his friend passed away in 1995, Porto inherited the car in the midst of its restoration.
“When I got it, it was a frame, an engine, a body, and a bunch of boxes, a whole bunch of boxes,” Porto said, “but I had another ’62, and I put them side-by-side to help me figure out how to put it back together.”
For Porto, the 1962 represents another significant advance in design for Cadillac, a sharp turn from the boisterous designs the company pioneered in the 1950s. Gone are the large tailfins and curvaceous body lines, replaced by sleek, angular lines, a still lower silhouette, and more conservative styling with a lot less chrome.
“Here in California, we needed cars that were more roadworthy. They were getting away from the fins and chrome and becoming much more refined,” Porto said. “The ‘62’s modern design moved the bar in yet another direction that would take the competition quite some time to catch up.”
Two additional vintage Cadillacs from the GM Heritage Center collection will be on display alongside the Eldorados, a 1905 Cadillac Runabout and a 1931 Fleetwood dual-cowl phaeton limousine.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. In recent years, Cadillac has engineered a historic renaissance led by artful engineering and advanced technology. More information on Cadillac can be found at media.cadillac.com.
Todd R. Davis