1954 Cadillac La Espada
Cadillac La Espada at 1954 Chicago Auto Show
Behind the wheel of the experimental Cadillac La Espada two-seat convertible is actor Ronald Regan. Before he was the 33rd governor of California and 40th President of the United States, Regan served as Grand Marshal during 1954 Chicago Auto Show.
Unidentified woman waves while posing behind the wheel of the Cadillac La Espada concept convertible, at the Cadillac exhibit area on the show floor. Car door is open, giving a partial view of the custom interior, including nacelle headrests for each occupant.
Images: GM; Kent Kenney Archives; www.desoto58.com; www.chicagoautoshow.com
1954 Cadillac La Espada (Spanish for the sword), (special order #1928)
The La Espada was a completely functional dream car built of fiberglass and gave promises of things to come. It predicted future Cadillac design cues like quad headlights, wraparound windshield, dual taillights and jet fins similar to the 1958 model. It also helped pave the way for the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Under the V-shaped hood was a modified Cadillac high compression V-8 engine.
This was the 2-seater roadster, companion car to the Cadillac El Camino
coupe during the 1954 GM Motorama; body sheet-metal was identical, including the rear deck with its camel-humped tonneau cover [the latter was copied, much later by Ford on their T-Bird models in the early sixties]. La Espada was finished in Apollo Gold, a very light cream color with a metallic golden hue. The cockpit of La Espada featured a central console, bucket seats, horseshoe-shaped instrument cluster. The special, inner door pull-knob appeared 2 years later on the production Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. The dash-mounted rear-view mirror, that appeared also on the Eldorado Brougham prototypes in 1955 and 1956, was moved up to the windshield header bar in the production models. Across the center console was the word Caution warning the driver not to use the large knob below the ventilation controls to operate the plastic canopy top while the car was in motion!
The 1954 Cadillac La Espada concept was a driveable show car first shown at the 1954 GM Motorama. It was a two-seat fiberglass convertible, mechanically similar to the El Camino concept coupe but with a specially engineered convertible top, ribbed to create a perfectly curved surface when closed. La Espada sported a recessed grille air intake in the front, which was guarded by massive and sweeping front bumpers. The bumpers were capped with white vinyl to cushion shocks and prevent scuffing of the chrome. Ribbed aluminum on the fender sides was slotted to admit air for the air conditioning system. La Espada, named for the sword, had dual headlights controlled with an Autronic Eye. Below the trunk compartment in the rear of the car was a special compartment that housed the spare tire. Removing a bright chrome trimmed door, which also served as a bumperette and license plate mount, accessed it. The gas cap was located behind the left rear tail fin, which swung forward for access. The experimental sports convertible had a 115-inch wheelbase, a 200-inch overall length and was powered by a Cadillac 230 horsepower overhead valve V8 engine.