After 1934, Cadillac became more selective in offering Fleetwood bodies on its series and by 1938 the only way to obtain a Fleetwood bodied car was by buying a Cadillac Series 75 or 90, as even the Cadillac Sixty Special had a Fisher body in its inaugural year. The Fleetwood script and crest would not appear on the exterior of any Cadillac until the 1947 model year when it appeared on the rear deck lid of the Sixty Special. By 1952 it also appeared on the rear deck lid of the Series 75. In 1957 the Cadillac Series 70 Eldorado Brougham joined the Sixty Special and the Series 75 as the only Cadillac models with Fleetwood bodies although Fleetwood script or crests did not appear anywhere on the exterior of the car. This marked the first time in 20 years that a Fleetwood-bodied car was paired with the Brougham name. Ironically, when production of the Eldorado Brougham was shifted in 1959 from the Cadillac Fleetwood plant in Detroit to Pininfarina in Turin, Italy, only then did it acquire Fleetwood wheel discs and door sill mouldings, presumably because the design work and final touches were still being done by Fleetwood.
Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, was considered a car lover and enjoyed several Cadillacs during two terms in office, from 1953 to 1961. Although Eisenhower’s security consultants could only dream of the technical finesses of today’s presidential sedan, a bulletproof vehicle with various small flaps and holes through which to retaliate to gun attacks was deemed ideal. And so in 1954 this Series 75 Fleetwood Imperial was pressed into service. In terms of ride comfort, the ‘54 Cadillac was truly presidential; wonderfully plush red velvet seats, acres of legroom, a high roof line so you could almost walk straight out of the car, additional extra-bright interior lighting so the president could be appropriately staged for photography, and when privacy was needed a large division buzzed up at the touch of a button.
Eisenhower’s Fleetwood had a longer career, even if the president only used the car for two years. As soon as his next car was ready, he gifted the ‘54 Fleetwood during a state visit to Bolivia’s serving president, Victor Paz Estenssoro.
Whilst Eisenhower never had to rely on the armour of his limousine, the Bolivian could only govern because of the thick steel plates in the doors and centimetre thick bulletproof glass in the windows. Shortly after receiving the Cadillac, Estenssoro was the target of an assassination attempt. Three of his bodyguards died from the machine gun fire of the attackers, but Estenssoro survived unharmed. The gun holes are still very visible on the windows, although the damage to the bodywork was repaired some years ago.
Around 30 years ago the Cadillac was imported from Bolivia to Germany, where it resided for a number of years in a museum. Relieved of its duty at the museum and presented in running order, this Fleetwood is not only one of the most luxurious cars of the 1950’s, but also one with a fascinating past which it still wears to the current day.