Cadillac Sixty Special Fourth Generation
|1950 to 1953|
|Assembly||Detroit, Michigan, USA|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||331 cu in (5.4 L) OHV V8|
|Transmission||4-speed Hydra-Matic automatic|
|Wheelbase||130.0 in (3,302 mm)|
|Length||1950: 224.9 in (5,712 mm) 1951–52: 224.5 in (5,702 mm)1953: 224.8 in (5,710 mm)|
|Width||80.1 in (2,035 mm)|
|Height||62.7 in (1,593 mm)|
|Curb weight||4,300–4,500 lb (2,000–2,000 kg)|
Throughout the 1950s, the Sixty Special would continue as a stretched and optioned-up version of the Cadillac Series 62, but lost the manual transmission.
For 1950, Cadillac showed all-new styling on every car in the lineup, including the $3,797 Sixty Special. While the opulent interior rivaled no other Cadillac, the exterior styling was nearly identical to the less-expensive Series 62 models. The chrome louver trim that was mounted on the rear roof panel since 1942 was now moved to the lower rear doors, just forward of the rear wheel wells. Although Cadillac utilized a wheelbase 4 in (100 mm) longer than the Series 62, the 130 in (3,300 mm) wheelbase was down 3 in (76 mm) from the previous year. The 1950 Sixty Special's shipping weight was 4,136 lb (1,876 kg) in base form (over 4,300 lb (2,000 kg) curb weight), and was powered by the same engine introduced for 1949 - the 331 cu in (5.42 L) Cadillac OHV V8 producing 160 horsepower (120 kW). For the first time in their history, over 100,000 Cadillacs were sold this year, and 13,755 of them was the Sixty Special – a new record for that model. Of historical note is that the actual 100,000th Cadillac that rolled off the assembly line was a 1950 Sixty Special.
1951 showed little change from 1950, apart from a new grille and bumper design, borrowing bumper bullets (or dagmars) from the 1951 GM Le Sabre show car. Inside, red warning "idiot" lamps replaced the gauges for secondary instruments like voltage and oil pressure. The same 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine, introduced in 1949, was utilized for the 1951 Cadillacs, but with minor revisions for the drivetrain. Despite a price jump to $4,060, the 4,155 lb (1,885 kg)-shipping-weight Sixty Special broke records for the second year in a row, as sales now hit 18,631.
Cadillac celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 1952. Changes were minimal – and mostly in back where the reverse lamps were now integral with the fin-mounted tail lamps, and the "Fleetwood" script returned to the trunk lid. In addition, the rear exhaust outlets were now in the form of two wide horizontal slots on the outer edges of the rear bumper. Also new for 1952 were winged crest emblems, mounted on the grille extensions below the headlights. With the addition of a down-draft carburetor, the 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine now produced 190 horsepower (140 kW). A revised automatic transmission was standard on Sixty Special, while power steering was offered at extra cost. Sales fell to 16,110 units, while the price and weight both rose, to $4,269 and 4,258 lb (1,931 kg) shipping weight. Cadillac won Motor Trend's "Car of the Year" again in 1952.
Just more of the same for 1953 Sixty Special, as all the attention was towards the new Eldorado convertible. Minimal trim changes to the Sixty Special included wider rocker panel moldings, which moved the chrome louvers higher up on the rear doors, and a revised grille and bumper. However, significant engineering changes were made to the 1953 models, including a new 12-volt electrical system and a jump in power for the 331 cu in (5.42 L) engine – now rated at 210 hp (160 kW). Two new notable options debuted this year. First, the $619.55 trunk-mounted air conditioning unit – developed by Frigidaire – was available in all closed-body Cadillac models. Second, the dashboard-mounted "Autronic Eye" became available. This automated system, which automatically dimmed the high-beam headlights when a forward-facing sensor indicated oncoming traffic, would become a Cadillac option for nearly the next forty years. Also available – for $325 – was a set of five wire wheels, which hadn't been seen on factory Cadillacs since the 1930s. Wire wheels would occasionally continue to be optionally available through 1992. The minor changes for the 1953 Sixty Special worked wonders, as sales of the $4,304 car was now up to a record 20,000 copies. Weight was up to 4,415 lb (2,003 kg), and optional wire wheels would add an additional 30 lb (14 kg).
1951 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special in The Barefoot Contessa, Movie from 1954