Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Raindrop Motorama Dream Car
By the end of the 1950s, technology had advanced by leaps and bounds. Rockets were fired off into outer space with satellites, every-day passengers were starting to travel at near supersonic speeds in jet-powered airliners, and nearly every home in America had at least one – sometimes two – televisions, many of which broadcast programs in living color. But what really captured the attention of both young and old alike were the latest inventions and innovations seen in the world of automobiles, and no one led the way into tomorrow as well as the Cadillac Division of General Motors. It was this never-ending quest for unique designs and gadgets to make life easier that made the "Raindrop" Eldorado convertible so popular when it was developed.
Since the turn of the 20th century, Cadillac had been declared the "Standard of the World" both in the United States and around the world. Known for its excellent craftsmanship and cutting edge styling, Cadillac's Eldorado series was born in 1953 as a single model offering, available as a luxury-laden hand-crafted convertible first seen by many on a cool January morning, transporting incoming President Eisenhower on the day he was sworn into office. In 1956, the Eldorado series was expanded to include a two-door hardtop christened the Seville, while the convertible was then named the Biarritz. For 1957, a four-door hardtop, the Brougham, was added to the line, but by far, the most popular model continued to be the convertible.
During the 1958 model year, a total of 815 Biarritz convertibles were produced, and from that number, five were taken off the line and sent to Cadillac's Design Studios where they received special treatment to make them the show cars for Cadillac in 1958. This is one of the five cars, equipped with the "Raindrop" feature. Mounted on the rear panel between the deck lid and the convertible boot well was a sensor that, upon detecting the slightest amount of water, would set into motion an automatic system designed to raise the car's convertible top, thereby protecting its interior while the owner could continue enjoying a round of golf, leisurely luncheon date or shopping expedition.
According to the promotional material of the day, the top was reworked so that when retracted into the down position all of its components were below the beltline of the car. A custom-built three piece cover replaced the original parade boot and allowed for automatic operation of the top. When the sensor, officially called the Humidity Control, was hit by a single drop of rain, it would set in motion a mechanical symphony. Starting with the back panel, a center section would slide out of the way while the side panels lifted and opened up. Next, the top would lift up and out of its storage space and fold out to its open position, automatically locking itself to the windshield pillar. Once the top was firmly in place, the front door windows would raise automatically, followed by the rear quarter glass. All of this took place in less than a minute and changed the car from an open-air luxury cruiser to a snug and dry comfortable enclosed coupe.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.
335 bhp, 365 cu. in. overhead valve V8 engine with three two-barrel carburetors, Hydramatic four speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, live rear axle with leaf springs and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129.5"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Doug Mitchel