Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide Day 4: 110 Years of Cadillac in Glossy Photos

Don Butler, Vice President of Marketing of Cadillac, with the 1958 Series 62 Coupe at the book release party for "Cadillac." Photos by Laila Bahman/

HEAD’S UP: Is it December already? YES, it is. In many parts of the world that means it is holiday gifting season. For many, the very idea presents a little conundrum. They have no idea what to gift, poor things! These are the very souls that the elves at VEVLYN’S PEN endeavor to lend a hand. We’re starting a bit early this year with our humble Holiday Gift Guide, because the spirit hit us and … well … we’re filled with the spirit! From today through 24 Dec., every day or every other day or so – willy-nilly, actually – we will introduce one or a series of products/services, items and brands that we believe would make a smashing holiday gift(s). And (as the old saying goes) … we’re off!!!

“CADILLAC.” Like Madonna and Prince, it only requires one name to be recognized.

It is the title of the new book about the iconic American car released by Assouline Publishing.

“Cadillac” is the first high-toned book to celebrate this country’s first luxury car. It coincides with the 110th anniversary year of the vehicle that has conveyed both presidents and queens. “Cadillac” is a history of the car told in photographs. And what photographs! Do cast your eyes on the 1904 Cadillac Model B Touring vehicle. It looks like a horseless horse-drawn carriage. Now, take a look at the 2013 ATS.

Since founder and engineer Henry M. Leland created the 1902 prototype boasting a single-engine with valve timing and rack-and-pinion steering, Cadillac has come a long way, baby! The timeline at the end of the book is recommended.

Don Butler of Cadillac and Martine Assouline on the red carpet at the "Cadillac" book release party.

The release of the book was recently celebrated with a party (of course) at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. Ivanka Trump and Martine Assouline were among those who ventured out to gawk at a couple of “caddys” and later ventured forth with a copy of the coffeetable book of around 150 photographs.

Not only does “Cadillac” serve as a history of the car, it also speaks to the history of the United States. Between the 1902 prototype and the 2013 ATS, is a lot of it. Included is a fetching 1961 photo of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy standing beside the 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine. One such model would be modified with a removable clear plastic top for Queen Elizabeth II to get around Canada in relative safety during a royal visit. Seemingly, some U.S. presidents took no such precautions (Calvin Coolidge and the Mrs. in a 1928 Cadillac Series 341 touring car; Dwight D. Eisenhower en route to his inauguration in 1953 in one of the first Eldorado convertibles).

"Cadillac" is a love letter about America's first luxury car. Photo from Assouline Publishing.

Other photos feature Muhammad Ali in 1967 riding in the back seat of a convertible Cadillac as the grand marshal of the Watts Summer Festival. A glaring oversight is that the notes don’t list the model of the car. However, it looks to be a coupe de ville. Another shortcoming, among very few, of “Cadillac” is that none of its 208 pages is numbered. How woefully inconvenient!

In any case, a black Cadillac would be in attendance at funerals, naturally. And the Solid-Gold Cadillac is the province of the Smiths, not the Joneses. But what of a pink Cadillac? It would figure in weddings, as suggested by the Cadillac Series 62 Four-Door at a 1950s wedding. Incidentally, Elvis Presley was a huge fan of the caddy and was the first to own one in pink, a hue that spawned a famous song and would become a fixture in American popular culture.

Ivanka Trump at the "Cadillac" book release party.

Like so many U.S. cars produced during the 60s and 70s, Cadillacs were huge – gas guzzlers. With the onset of the 1970s energy crisis, Cadillac and others in the car bidness, began making smaller cars as the decade came to a close. The big gas guzzling cars have not made the comeback they enjoyed in their heydey.

By the ’90s, however, gas guzzlers were returning to the road – in the form of SUVs. One of the most popular in this genre is the Escalade. In “Cadillac,” an Escalade montage featuring Vivica A. Fox, Eric Benet, Andy Garcia, Mark Wahlberg and Usher, illustrates the enduring appeal of the brand to the entertainment industry.

The Cyclone concept car, which attracted a lot of attention at the "Cadillac" book release party, was designed with a rain sensor that could automatically raise its bubble top.

Direct the eyes to the 1955 Eldorado Convertible. Overhead is a marine-blue sky, speckled with tufts of soft clouds. Beneath it is a small mountain ridge in rich rust. The car is a shade of blue akin to Tiffany blue. Its interior is white; it is parked in the middle of the road in what appears to be a California desert.

What an arresting image!

Visit to learn more about “Cadillac.”

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