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A Matter of Design

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Clark Olivers 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville is Elysian green, a color whose name holds a special allure to him.

The dictionary defines Elysian as of, relating to, or characteristic of heaven or paradise. Elysium, in Greek mythology, is the abode of the blessed, paradise. Situated at the end of the world, it is here that those chosen by the gods are sent to.

Oliver, of Leawood, loves his Cadillac for its sculptural beauty. The understated elegance and the simplicity of design are both part of its attraction. Oliver is the proprietor of Hair Salon in Westport, and he appreciates good design wherever it occurs. His shop has been recognized for its award-winning interior. It was named one of the top 20 shops in 2005 by Salon Today magazine.

Oliver bought his Cadillac 25 years ago. A couple from Arizona owned it previously. They had painted the car in aqua metallic. It was awful, Oliver said, It lost all of its pizazz.

The Eldorado was sound but in need of lots of work. Oliver painstakingly refinished the body and repainted it in the original color, working in the garage of his home. He stripped the aqua paint from the dash and door panels and painted those as well. The interior is loaded with chrome, and the upholstery is original. The car has 79,922 miles.

The engine received a much-needed overhaul, and now it idles very quietly. Cadillacs were known for their smoothness in the 1950s.

The Eldorados lines are similar to those of the Park Avenue, a show car built for GMs 1954 Motorama. The Seville coupe sold for $7,286, and 2,100 were built. The 365-cubic-inch V-8 produced 300 horsepower.

The Eldorados shape is highlighted by the thin tailfins that protrude from the round, sloping back fenders. These fins are delicate and subtle, unlike those that appeared on some GM cars around 1959. Splashes of stainless steel trim flow from the rear wheels back into the tiny rear bumpers that house the backup lights and exhaust outlets. The overall look defines the less is more philosophy as it was interpreted in 1957.

Oliver describes his Cadillac as more artwork than mechanical. It was, he said, designed like a piece of art.

 

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Author

Tom Strongman

Automotive Expert

Tom Strongman began writing about automobiles for The Kansas City Star 20 years ago. He was the full-time Automotive Editor from 1991 to 2001. Now he is a Contributing Editor who works on contract for the paper. His syndicated column also appears in The St. Louis Suburban Journals and The Columbus Dispatch. He writes a bi-monthly column for AAA's Home and Away Magazine. Strongman's "Behind the Wheel" segment airs weekly on KSHB Channel 41 in Kansas City.

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