Eye on the future

Featured image
A 1966 Cadillac convertible parked outside of Zabar's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Sunny and very warm, but pleasantly so, yesterday in New York; with temps in the 70s and RealFeels in the mid 80s. But very pleasant. I had to run some errands and drove to my destinations. The city was busy on the Upper East Side, heavy traffic, heavy trucks and the sidewalks throughout. It was a weekday mid-afternoon in New York City.

Last Saturday I went over to Zabar’s to pick up supplies and my Sunday dinner. I immediately found a parking space right behind this: 1966 Cadillac convertible. In perfect condition. I knew it belonged to a serious collector. I asked a friend of mine who “collects” what he thought the estimate would be on it for sale. His response: “I’d say 60-80k.”

Arriving at my parking space right behind the convertible, I was anxious to get out of my Mini so I could get a real look at it. And a photo. It was a dream car, the Hollywood star version, and I was no longer a kid. Besides, I couldn’t afford it. 

I had a rich uncle who certainly could but he was afraid that if he did, his ex-wife would come after him for more money. I’d have given her more money if I had the dough for this beauty. So Unk went without. Because the message in the driver’s seat is that you’ve arrived. Also, then in my 20s living here in Manhattan, I had no use for a boat like this. I did have a Volvo and later a VW Beetle but these were (very adequate and sensible and) utilitarian.  All of this came back into my head as I spent a few minutes looking.

This model (1966) was the end of an era for a lot of things. The “fins” came in post-War in the early ’50s when cars had “models” that changed annually. They had flash, and pride. We looked forward to the changes; not all that different from growing up. The Caddy by 1966 had a good run of more than a decade with the “fins,” and this is an elegant finale. It outflashed all the vehicles around it then, and it certainly did on Broadway and 80th Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon in May fifty-five years later.

Now it also looks other-worldly. Back then it was a vehicle of the future (in your dreams). This was back when dreams were big in the American psyche. Although by the end of the 1960s, the dreams were often getting more ornery. And while this baby looks damned serious, she also looks like she’s comfortable anywhere with anyone behind the wheel because she’s where it’s at in good old America.

I wasn’t the only one stopping by just to look her. And some were photographing with their phones. I loved it. I loved the interior. It takes you away. The American way; color color color. And flash. And expensive. In 1966 it was expensive, and it was yours, loaded for fifty-eight hundred bucks. That was a lotta money then, really; even to rich uncles (the 1966 version of rich to a small town boy). In retrospect it was a good investment. If you could keep it together and live long enough to “profit” from it.

This was Detroit’s eye on the future. Or so we thought. A half century ago.

Print Ad for the 1966 Cadillac Convertible.

Recent Posts