The U.S. auto industry had fully embraced quad headlamps by 1958, the transition in part delayed by 14 states’ regulations against them. Experimentation and previews began much earlier. Cadillac showed two idea cars in 1954 with quad lights, the El Camino, a sleek coupe, and a convertible roadster called La Espada. Both also exhibited the Eldorado fins that would be adopted for 1955. Four eyes returned in 1955, with the first showing of the prototype Eldorado Brougham, the “production” model which unabashedly offered only quads on arrival in 1957, before they were fully legal. In ’55, Cadillac reworked the 1953 Le Mans two-seat sports prototype for the show circuit, giving it quads and new tail fins. But other work was going on behind the scenes, because a few otherwise stock 1956 Cadillac Eldorados were built with four headlamps, and they survive today. This car is one of these.
Long owned by a discerning Cadillac collector, it was purchased from a friend, in whose collection it had also resided for some years. It is believed to have been factory built and possibly used by a design executive when new. In addition to the headlamp treatment, it carries the window trim scheme of the 1956 Castilian show car.
Stunning in white over black, it has a matching leather interior. It runs on gold Sabre wheels, with matching Cadillac emblems. It is fully equipped with power steering, brakes, windows, door locks and seats. The dashboard is entirely correct, with all instruments in excellent condition. The original 365-cubic inch engine with dual four-barrel carburetors, topped with the iconic bat wing air cleaner, runs well. Coupled to the smooth-shifting Hydra-Matic transmission, it makes this car a dream to drive.
A few similar cars are known to exist. A 1956 Biarritz convertible with the same headlamp treatment is fairly well known, and what may be another, unrestored example was known to be in Peru around 2002. This car, however, is almost certainly the best of the rest. Its new owner will no doubt enjoy the double-takes it earns from passers-by.