1955 Cadillac Eldorado vs. 1955 Packard Caribbean vs. 1956 Lincoln Premiere Comparison
Mid-Century Majesty: King-Of-The-Hill Cadillac Faces Two Legitimate Contenders To The Throne
By Frank Markus | Photos By Julia LaPalme | From the December 2012 issue of Motor Trend
As the dramas above were playing out through the early 1950s, a revolution was also brewing at Lincoln -- a brand that, like Packard, had also built high-end cars to rival Cadillac in its early years, only to water down its image by selling too many mid-priced variants. Still trying to find itself, the brand launched a downsized 1952 Lincoln aimed not at Cadillac, but at Oldsmobile. Hence, the company sent it off to race in the famous Carrera Panamericana, the inaugural running of which Olds had won in 1950. But despite winning its class in the '52, '53, and '54 events, Lincoln failed to dent Olds' macho image. Glamour was selling in those days, so Lincoln tried fancy interiors, but the stubbier bodywork to which Lincoln was committed through 1955 just couldn't sell the image, and sales shrunk to a pitiful 27,222 that year.
Work was progressing on a similar-sized replacement for 1956 under the direction of Earl S. MacPherson, a formidable chief engineer immortalized for his strut suspension design. Lead stylist William M. Schmidt had penned the futuristic Lincoln XL-500 and Futura dream cars, but he reported to MacPherson, who was unimpressed with the engineering challenges such radical designs presented. Schmidt's team was proceeding with a conservative, compact redo, but he so fervently believed this was the wrong direction that he secretly worked up a longer, lower, wider design incorporating themes from the Futura -- such as the hooded headlamps and the "waterfall" break line low on the body side. Henry Ford II's right-hand man discovered it, loved it, and helped sell it to management against MacPherson's vociferous arguments regarding the cost and complexity of designing a whole new chassis and engine for this bigger, heavier Cadillac fighter.
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