MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Award-Winning Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the Robert Tate Collection
Published 3.20.2024

A Cadillac ad from the 1950s Robert Tate Collection 1A Cadillac ad from the 1950s (Robert Tate Collection)

The Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors has created a lot of great advertising over their history. The 1950s and 1960s were a time when mothers and daughters dressed in beautiful dresses and gowns created by designers like Jane Derby and other fashion icons. Cadillac ads featuring women wearing the latest fashions attracted female buyers and reflected Cadillac’s reputation as an upscale brand.

A 1955 Cadillac ad with a fashion model Robert Tate Collection 2A 1955 Cadillac ad with a fashion model (Robert Tate Collection)

These great looking Cadillac ads featuring the fashions of the day were also part of a campaign to bring more women into sales and marketing positions at Cadillac dealerships. The ads depicted women in beautiful clothing in party scenes or glamorous couples which became part of a golden age of Cadillac advertising.

A 1955 Cadillac ad Favorite of All Nations Robert Tate Collection RESIZED 3A 1955 Cadillac ad, "Favorite of All Nations" (Robert Tate Collection)

For many years, automotive historians have appreciated Cadillac advertising from this era.  A popular movie in 1956 was ”Solid Gold Cadillac,” which starred Judy Holliday, John Williams and Paul Douglas.

The 1956 Solid Gold Cadillac 4The 1956 movie "Solid Gold Cadillac"

One of the most popular Cadillac colors that attracted women buyers in 1956 was called Mountain Laurel, a shade of pink. Today, the Mountain Laurel color is among the most collectible among automotive enthusiasts around the world.

A 1958 Cadillac ad Robert Tate Collection RESIZED 5A 1958 Cadillac ad (Robert Tate Collection)

In 1955, the combination of great-looking automotive design and effective advertising caused Cadillac sales to rocket to new records. The 1955 models continued a new look introduced the previous year featuring a new grille design, along with new coupe rooflines known as the Florentine curve which many consumers really admired.

1959 Cadillac sales material Robert Tate Collection RESIZED 61959 Cadillac sales material (Robert Tate Collection)

During the 1950s and 1960s, Cadillac’s tail fins served as a great symbol of Americana, along with poodle skirts, Elvis Presley and satlack shoes.   Cadillac’s tail fins reached their pinnacle with the 1959 models, and the brand’s advertising once again featured fashionable women enjoying special events.

A 1960 Cadillac ad Robert Tate Collection 7A 1960 Cadillac ad (Robert Tate Collection)

During the post-World War II-era of the 1950s, Americans were purchasing more new automobiles, and Cadillac advertising reflected their aspiration to be “the standard of the world.” Fashion trends come and go, but Cadillac advertising of the 1950s and 1960s was always colorful and beautiful and reflective of the brands luxury, comfort and style.

A 1960 Cadillac ad Robert Tate Collection 8A 1960 Cadillac ad (Robert Tate Collection)

In conclusion, this story details just a few of Cadillac’s many milestones over its 100+-year legacy. The luxury features on these classic Cadillac models were bold and a breakthrough for the times, while also featuring great-looking fashion trends for women that remain timeless today.

Bibliography

Hendry, Maurice D. “Cadillac, Standard of the World: The Complete History.” Automobile Quarterly Publications, 1983.

Stern, Jane & Michael. “Auto Ads” Random House New York, 1978.

McCall, Walter M.P. “80 Years of Cadillac La Salle.” Crestline Publishing, 1988.