No single automotive design better characterizes the American automobile industry’s late-1950s flamboyance than the iconic 1959 Cadillac. All Cadillac models made that year incorporated totally new styling with large tail fins, twin bullet taillights, a choice of two distinctive roof lines and roof-pillar configurations, new jewel-like radiator grille patterns and matching deck-latch-lid beauty panels were trademark visual elements of these cars.
A total of 13 models were offered including the Coupe DeVille seen here. The 1959 Cadillacs were longer and lower than 1958 models. The increase in length was about a half-inch for most body types. The Coupe DeVille had a 130-inch wheelbase. All Cadillacs were more than three inches lower than in 1958.
Cadillac stroked its famous overhead-valve V8 engine and increased its displacement to 390 cubic inches. Other Cadillac selling points included standard Hydra-Matic Drive, a tubular-center X-frame, helical-coil front and rear springs, aluminum alloy pistons, full-pressure lubrication and Magic-Mirror acrylic lacquer finish. The DeVille models had script nameplates on the rear fenders. This eliminated the Cadillac crest medallions on the front fenders.
Otherwise, the DeVilles were trimmed like Series 62 models. Standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, dual back-up lights, windshield washers, two-speed electric windshield wipers, full wheel discs, an outside rearview mirror, a vanity mirror, an oil filter, power windows and two-way power seats.
The Coupe DeVille had a suggested retail price of $5,252. This giant car weighed in at 4,720 lbs. and had a production run of 21,924 units. The overhead valve V8 had a cast iron block. With a 4.00 x 3.875 bore and stroke it displaced 390 cubic inches. Cadillac engineers used a 10.5:1 compression ratio. Brake horsepower was 325 at 4800 rpm. Torque was 430 lbs.-ft. at 3100 rpm. Dual exhausts and a Carter AFB four-barrel carburetor was standard.
Cadillac chassis specifications included a 139-in. wheelbase and 225-in. overall length. The DeVille was 80.2 inches wide and 54.3 inches high. Front and rear tread widths were 61 inches. Huge 8.00 x 15 tires carried the big car over the road. Today, these cars are considered an iconic representation of the flamboyance and reach-for-the-sky attitude of a unique decade in history.