Review: Danbury Mint 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Seville LE 5000

Photographed and Reviewed by Peter Brown

The years leading up to 1959 and just after, unquestionably represented the height of excess in American automotive design. Cadillac was a prime example with their 59's towering tailfins festooned with rockets. Not that this was all bad—it did give us a classic fifties icon—but to many it was way over the top. This is evident when one looks at the 1960 and subsequent designs, which clearly show a stylistic trend in the opposite direction.

Danbury has finally taken that bold step into Cadillacs of the 1960's, and what better subject to start with (since the 59's share many parts) than this lovely Seville and the limited edition Biarritz that immediately preceded it. I hope they sell out quickly, because I want to see DM do a 1961 Caddy, and a '62, etc.

In this view we see the beautifully recreated front end, and the individual photo-etched letters spelling out E L D O R A D O on each front fender. Note the absence of the large, horizontal, center grille bar, and the newly reshaped for 1960 parking lights below the bumper.

Also note how the chrome strips between the hood and front fenders now have a body-colored insert at the leading edge in place of solid chrome on the 59 models. Gone, too, are the chrome wings that used to flank either side of the chrome strip on the fender caps. This general de-chroming of the body is evident throughout the model year redesign, and the white walls have started to thin out as well.

Under the hood we find a decent amount of detail and realism despite the age of the tooling on which this model is based. DM treats us to the usual complete plumbing and wiring, and includes such details as the clear blue fluid reservoir, battery terminals, and fender bracing rods. Cadillac's famous blue engine block with gold air cleaner is generally well depicted here. The biggest disappointment if one must nit-pick is the old-school hood hinges, but considering how often I open the hood of one of my Cadillac models, this can be easily forgiven.

The interior is stunning, and (for a Cadillac of this era) understated in champagne colored leather and beige carpeting. Even the massive amounts of chrome trim on the inside door panels has mostly been replaced with a less shiny silver finish. Hidden door hinges (pioneered with this tool many years back), and finely wrought details abound, including readable gauges and folding armrests fore and aft.

Here's another view showing the interior with its simulated leather upholstery in a new pattern for 1960, and the front and rear center armrests both folded down. The "bubble-top" Coupe roofline, covered in Dover White Vicodec, is supported by relatively thin chrome pillars at all four corners as with the previous model year, and has a surprisingly light and airy look for such a large "greenhouse."

Here's another look at the door's detailed interior panels, complete with red reflectors, carpeting along the bottom edge, and a working door latch which clicks to hold the door closed—another first from the original tool.

In profile, we get our first good look at the newly redesigned chrome trim which runs from below the front wing windows all the way back to the rear bumper, then runs down and all the way back to the front wheel opening. This trim was only used on the high-end Biarritz and Seville models, but for 1960 instead of being solid chrome, it had a body-colored insert which divided it into two parallel, thin, delicate chrome strips—a bit toned down, but not too much. After all, they didn't want to shock people.

Under the massive trunk lid we find legible jacking instructions, and below, a matching liner and spare tire cover in what is no doubt the appropriate pattern. Of course, out back is where we finally feast our eyes upon the biggest changes of all for 1960; the new, cleaner, lowered tailfins. Not only are they lower to the ground and minus four flaming rockets, but they are further shortened by the taller rear fenders. The bumper and taillight details are more delicate and refined than their predecessors, and the overall effect is still quite stylish, but they definitely achieved a less flamboyant design in the second year of this body style.

These were bigger than usual changes for only one year into a new body, but the public had quickly begun to eschew the 59's unabashed boldness, and Cadillac had to go back to the drawing boards. The result was a much more pleasing design for 1960; it had plenty of chrome, the style of the '59, but this time they stopped just short of going over the top, and it worked. From then on, fins on Cadillacs and most other cars continued to shrink and disappear. The "rocket" styling theme would be seen for many years to come, but in far more subtle ways.

The Danbury Mint wowed collectors when the original version of this tool was introduced as a '59 drop-top. There were newly created hidden door hinges instead of doglegs, and the click-to-close doors were fantastic. The tooling had its critics, mostly in regard to the fins, but the overall reaction was very positive. Many years later, DM pulls one more set of variations out of its hat, and look what we get! Of course, this was a huge retooling, but they kept what they could from the old molds to control costs, and they seem to have struck the perfect balance.

There is plenty of detail for a $149 model, especially when one considers the fit and finish. On the shelf this is like a little champagne-colored jewel sitting next to the 1960 Biarritz in heather metallic. Like the Biarritz, the Seville edition is limited to a maximum of 5000 pieces so they will only be available for a limited time. If you love old Cadillacs like I do, you won't want to miss out. I've got mine.