Dessert before dinner

Design Notes: 1992 Cadillac EldoradoWhen I was young, one of my friend’s parents would occasionally offer to treat our gang of pals to dinner at a restaurant. If our destination was the mega-portion eatery called Claim Jumper, they stipulated but one thing: dessert was to be eaten before dinner. Naturally, we were good with that requirement.

Why am I sharing this? Because I decided to break this massive post into two parts: the story and the photos. Usually I provide photos after the textual content, like a dessert, but this time we’re having the sweet before the meat.

Why the huge delay?
First, I apologize for the reduced number of postings over the past several months. There’s certainly no material shortage; on the contrary, I’ve built quite the backlog.

1992 Cadillac Eldorado rear right 2No, apart from a substantial workload increase at my day job, I’ve actually become somewhat consumed with making this article worthy of its subject.

In fact, at a point it really sank in. I realized I’d been granted a virtual tour behind not just any curtain, but rather the one that concealed secrets for decades about an iconic automotive final act, the venerable 1992 Cadillac Eldorado’s development.

Consider those secrets compromised.

A lot of typing
1992 Cadillac Eldorado interior overhead right aSince starting work on this article, I’ve not looked at an eleventh-generation Eldorado the same. I can’t. I’ve spoken one-on-one with its chief designer on that single topic for over an hour and fifteen minutes! This is a scoop you won’t see anywhere else, a story of historical significance. So, this had to be done right.

As with my previous interview with Mr. Ruzzin, I recorded our entire phone conversation and boy did we cover a lot of ground. My first quandary was what information to include and how to organize and present it. After considering various approaches I figured the best, at least for posterity, would be to essentially convert our entire conversation into a transcript. As of this posting I’ve typed roughly 7,000 words and still have another 20 minutes of audio to process. I estimate the finished article will be in excess of 10,000 words (by comparison, this first part of the post is just over 2,000 words–including all of the HTML jargon).

However, since I prepared the pictures first, they were ready to go. And, I figured most readers would appreciate their early release. In part 2, the writeup, Mr. Ruzzin will provide a bit of interesting insight into some of the shots but since I don’t want to give anything away, my comments and information here are purposefully restrained to personal observations.

(Click on the thumbnails below to see the full-size images. The order of the pictures is not necessarily chronological.)

Some sketches
I think the first drawing, below left, has a stunningly simplistic beauty to it. No gimmicks, just uncluttered elegance. Personally, I think it could still serve as the basis for a large coupe in Cadillac’s lineup today. The car in the second image is likewise simple and elegant. Even though I’m not a huge fan of wheel well coverings, I think its semi-flared rear skirt, with undercut lower half, looks really nice.

1992 Cadillac Eldorado design sketch 11992 Cadillac Eldorado design sketch 2

The two cars shown below appear to be full-scale drawings and take a more pragmatic approach to design. I see less fluidity in the surfaces and more geometry in the angles. They appear smaller and less imposing to me.

1992 Cadillac Eldorado design sketch 31992 Cadillac Eldorado design sketch 4

Some models
This first model doesn’t appear to stray too far from the car it was replacing, the tenth-generation (1986 through 1991) Eldorado. Interestingly, it has a roof treatment similar to that of the then-familiar Biarritz models, with its basket-handle or targa-looking roof treatment. However, the requisite semi-padded roof gave way to body color paint and the flash of the familiar brushed stainless steel roof section was replaced by subdued black paint. Not a bad attempt at a modern interpretation of a traditional, high-glitz model.

I like the forward-leaning front end, which would have correlated with the DeVille of the day, but the front side markers appear too elongated, dominating that panel.

As with many models, the left and right sides are different; ever-so-slightly in this case.

1992 Cadillac Eldorado model 1 front left1992 Cadillac Eldorado model 1 profile left1992 Cadillac Eldorado model 1 rear left

Also, notice some of the things going on in the background of the pictures above. Such as the gorgeous lines on the sedan in the upper-right background of the first; what a masterful joining of the C-pillar and rear fender! Or, how about the two scale models in the top left background of the third picture? (The blue and yellow coupes.) What on earth?

Continue to page 2, below.

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