The sixties was a decade of transition between older style post war Cadillacs
and more contemporary styling of the seventies and beyond.
1963 (and close relative '64) Cadillacs are arguably the last of the older
style and the first of the newer. They have fins, plenty of chrome and almost
no plastic. But their form is sharp and defined and without the trim
embellishment of most fifties Cadillacs for example. To some this refinement
is seen as plain and makes these models less appealing. For myself and other
lovers of the '63 models, these cars have true style. They're not loud or
retiring. There's just enough restraint that an admirer may easily believe
you have chosen the car because you like it, not because others like it.
This restraint is balanced by just enough excess. Take the front grille for
example...stacked high, almost architectural in appearance (sometimes likened
to a toned down '59 grille) - not so much beautiful but a statement of
strength and 'substance of the owner'. This is one area '63 models differ
from the substantially similar '64s. The grille in the later model is less
complex and appears to have less depth - more similar to Chevrolet (or in
Australia, Holden). This does not greatly detract from the appearance but
changes the personality. On this point, one of the best ways to subtly upset
a '63 owner is to ask how their '64 is going. It's like asking a Canadian
which state of America they come from! For a '63 owner, a '64 model is a bit
short in the fins, a bit light in the front ensemble and generally a little
less of a statement. Okay, it does, however, have a better gearbox, more go
and climate control (when it works!).
Another attractive feature of the '63/64 generation is the clean side profile
with only the fins rising neatly from the continuous length of uninterrupted
sheet metal (also true of the 1960 models). 1963 is the first year of
strongly defined contour on the hood and trunk - again styling forms that
along with the modern 'A' pillar design mark the transition towards
'63 model convertibles arguably look the best of the post war models with the
top up. The more linear forms resulting from the stretched fabric of the soft
top combined with the larger 'C' pillar suit the sheet metal work much better
than in the rounded forms of earlier models. It is not an outstanding car for
interior features but on DeVille models (convertibles) the blending of the
die cast interior door handles (with integrated courtesy lights) into the
continuous band of stainless is particularly tasteful.
Of course to many members of the public, 'taste' and Cadillac do not sit well
together. However, this is largely a reaction to exposure of the more
'common' late fifties models and let's be honest - size! Owners of '63s are
still driving full size models but in this case the message seems to be more
one of class rather than excess. People still smile and invariably offer
remarks of appreciation (or at worst size). Owners know they're driving
something exciting but the car allows just enough modesty for them not to
need to make too much of it..."you like it, thanks, actually it's my daily
driver, I forget how unusual it is" (but that's not true is it!).
See how this car was converted to right hand drive. (Includes before, during and after photos). Just click here.
Read about this car's adventures in the Australian outback (with photos). Just click here.