Here’s one that snuck by me in 1980, and just as well. Wow; who wouldn’t have lusted after this. Especially at $61,000 ($176k adjusted). No wonder less than a hundred were ever built.
Here’s some more info on this gem, and one in the flesh:
The king of front overhangs?
From Alden Jewell’s Flickr page:
From an article by Tom Appel in The Daily Drive dated June 19, 2018: “The plan had been to build 300 Eldorado Evolutions a year, but estimates put total production for 1981 and 1982 at fewer than 100 units.
One barrier to purchase was the price. While an off-the-shelf 1982 Eldorado started at just under $19,000, the Cardin-upgraded Evolution started at a whopping $58,000, and came to $61,000 fully loaded. By comparison, a well-equipped Mercedes-Benz 380SEC still went for less than $50,000 in 1982.
Good-condition examples of the Eldorado Evolution have shown up for sale in recent months, with asking prices in the $20,000 range – considerably more than a stock 1982 Eldo might go for.”
And here’s the official press release:
What characterizes a truly great designer is the capacity to harmoniously blend traditional aesthetics withdaring innovation. Thus, Pierre Cardin has created both the first authentic limited production designerautomobile and the first Custom Class Cadillac: the Evolution 1.The Evolution 1 combines French design perfection and American technology to bring pure art to theroadways. From the arresting brilliance of the exterior twenty layers of hand-applied and hand-rubbedlacquer, to the strong sculptural lines and futuristic styling, Evolution 1 is a classic in the making. Thegracefully extended front, the elegant rear deck and the redefined roof line accentuate the strikingindividuality of Evolution 1. The aerodynamically designed rearview mirror creates a distinctive accent whichconfirms the touch of a master designer.Truly, Evolution 1 is more than a beautiful custom automobile. It is beauty made functional. As a Cadillac,Evolution 1 commands the highest of automotive reputation, combined with the most advanced Americantechnology. Cardins choice of the Eldorado eliminates repair and maintenance problems, for the Evolution 1is fully warranteed. Its hard-nosed practicality is exemplified by a unique surfacing compound whichthoroughly protects its exquisite exterior finish from ultraviolet fade and harsh road elements.Evolution 1 also features a photochromatic sunroof which ingeniousla darkens as the sun’s rays growstronger. This thoughtfully designed vehicle is factory equipped with electrically operated foldaway headlamps and (or with optional) electrically foldaway fog halogen lights. Moreover, as a safety feature Evolution1 displays on the front grill, rear and sail panel sections, electroluminescent lighting. This is a low voltage-form of soft light developed for use in military and commercial aircraft which automatically lights when theignition is started. Never again can you forget to turn on your lights.The luxurious interior environment of Evolution 1 is a design achievement of uncompromising quality andworkmanship. Every aspect of the driving compartment is handcrafted by master artisans in the tradition ofgreat coachmakers. The individually cut and sewn leather seats are made from the world’s finest leatherwhich (is scientifically treated to prevent) fading and cracking. The graceful seating is designedorthopedically to insure supple comfort and are, of course, electronically controlled.The Evolution’s headliner is made of the most luxurious leather, emphasizing Cardin’s concern for refined yetunderstated detail. With Cardin’s accent on refined and understated detail, the Evolution 1’s headliner ismade of the most luxurious suede. The dashboard, steering wheel, and interior accents also reflect his care,for they are individually hand fashioned from mahogany. The carpeting is made of rich and durable 100percent English virgin wool. For personal comfort there are lighted vanity mirrors on each visor. A final touchof opulence is found neatly concealed within the rear armrest – a serving unit housing elegant Waterfordcrystal.The studio quality radio and cassette sound system, featuring separate power amplifiers, graphic equalizer,and digital display, has been custom matched to satisfy the most discriminating musical palate. The optionalcustom designed sound system completes the interior environment with elegant finesse. It is customdesigned with separate power amplifiers, graphic equalizer and digital display to satisfy the mostdiscriminating audiophile.Evolution 1 displays the formidable performance characteristics of the front-wheel driving Eldorado. It aslofeatures Dunlop Elite tires which assure the driver of superb road handling and provide a fifty thousand milewarranty.The Evolution 1 comes with a 368 cu.in. V8 engine with electronic digital fuel injection. A 350 cu.in.turbocharged V8 is also available. Koni gas shock absorbers and a specially tuned suspension system arestandard and provide a perfect balance between performance and luxury. The Evolution 1 will only be available to a very select group of automotive enthusiasts. Production has begunwith deliveries expected to begin on May. This luxury grand touring automobile will be issued in a numberedseries limited to only 300 vehicles. Each automobile will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticitysigned by Pierre Cardin, stating date of completion and serial number. In addition, a placque bearing theproduction number and date of completion will be located in the engine compartment.Evolution 1 is indeed a forceful work of modern art. Through the innovative genius of the world’s foremostdesigner, Pierre Cardin, and the technological excellence of Cadillac, the Evolution 1 has evolved as anunsurpassed (the first) custom grand touring automobile
Well, at least you have a longer crash zone.
Other than grille and taillights, looks like my old ’86 Chevy Monte Carlo LS…
Good golly, you’d think by sitting on the front of the hood it would tip forward and pick up the back wheels.
Never heard of this before. I hope they paid out Pierre by giving him one.
It could use a set of the plastic truck nuts from Tatra87’s post!
I can’t believe they even sold one. Makes the Stutz revival of the seventies look dignified, which takes a bunch of doing.
Wow, that’s almost $40,000 more than a standard Eldorado cost in 1980. Just eight years earlier, you could get the Pierre Cardin package on your AMC Javelin for a mere $85… and it looked better too.
You’d hope he reworked the interior of the Caddy extensively for that sort of price padding. Marble dash? Gold plating?
Wow! I was raised in the 80s in car culture L.A. and I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing of these. I don’t mind it.
Take that, long nosed Matador sedan and wagon!
In the illustration, the front end almost looks like that of a SAAB Sonett III, married to the blocky Eldorado body. In the metal, the effect is quite different than that.
That’s odd- thought one of the mainstays of good design was good taste.
I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in gm’s product meetings when this one was approved.
I wonder if it came with free driving tutorials at the dealership, to get owners accustomed to start turning the steering wheel several feet earlier than usual? 🙂
It has nothing to do with GM. Pierre Cardin Automotive just bought them and modified them.
Surely GM would have come down on him like a ton of bricks if they didn’t tacitly approve, Pierre Cardin or no? Like when they shut down the El Morocco Chevy-Caddy mashup back in the fifties. Or would he have been too big a name for their lawyers to take on?
What could GM do? What If I bought a new Cadillac and customized it and resold it? There’s absolutely nothing they can do.
GM would have been glad for the business.
This was a common thing back then. There were gobs of these customs based on production cars. It was the 80s!
GM would have had to approved of the line in the ad, “Undoubtedly Cadillac,” though in doing so they showed that they had no shame.
No they wouldn’t have. Plenty of other ads by other companies have used the name “Cadillac” in their ads or shown them. There’s no law against that.
The El Morocco was titled as an El Morocco. Can’t do that.
“Surely GM would have come down on him like a ton of bricks if they didn’t tacitly approve…Like when they shut down the El Morocco Chevy-Caddy mashup back in the fifties.”
While I’ve read of GM executives being aware of and irritated by Ruby Allender’s production of the El Morocco, I’ve never seen any evidence that GM engaged in any sort of legal action to make Allender stop production. What more likely caused El Morocco production to cease was a lack of adequate production facilities, a non-existent a dealer network (direct factory sales only), and a price that was almost 50% more than the Chevrolet on which it was based, and approaching the price of a standard Cadillac. To most buyers a lightly used Cadillac was a better option, not to mention more available throughout the US.
Another nail in the coffin was the styling of the ‘58 Chevrolet, which didn’t lend itself as easily to the faux Cadillac treatment.
I wonder just how this partnership came to be. Did Cardin himself strike a deal with an aftermarket-type company to use his name? This doesn’t appear to be from GM, especially since the contact name on the ad is in New York.
And if so, had he actually seen the design? Or did he have anything to do with it? Did Cardin himself say “a new Cadillac with a long, long nose would be great” – and someone else interpreted what he wanted? I’d really love to know. At least his AMC Javelin deal with with the manufacturer and the end result, while not to everyone’s taste, at least looked professional. This, on the other hand…
I found this:
With the company Pierre Cardin Automotive founded in 1980, the French fashion designer went one step further: his name now became part of the name of an automobile manufacturer. Whether Cardin himself was involved in the company is unclear. Pierre Cardin Automotive was based in the World Trade Center in New York, where the Cardin Evolution I was sold. The very expensive vehicles were difficult to sell. In 1984, the company ceased its activities. There was no successor model.
Pierre Cardin Evolution I
The basis of the Evolution I was was the Cadillac Eldorado Coupe of the 6th generation. Chassis, drivetrain and passenger compartment were all taken over unchanged from the original vehicle, as well as sheet metal parts of the fenders. The design of the front and rear and the interior were reworked, which were attributed to Pierre Cardin. Whether Cardin was actually responsible for the redesign is doubtful.
Particularly striking was the revised front end of the Evolution I. Instead of the conventional stem Cardin Automotive added a self-designed, more than 50 inches long unit, which continued the line of the standard fenders lightly sloping. As a result, the overhang of the vehicle grew considerably. Over the entire widt of the front of the car was a radiator grill made of horizontal chrome struts. The headlights were hidden behind flaps that continued the design of the grill. Overall, the front of the Evolution I should have used less chrome than that of the standard Cadillac Eldorado. The front bumpers were from the Oldsmobile Toronado which was based on the same platform as the Eldorado and had nearly identical dimensions.
The interior has significantly been upgraded, although the Evolution I took over the instruments of the Cadillac Eldorado. The dashboard however, was covered with real high-quality wood. The seats were upholstered with English leather. A stereo system, a Sony TV with VCR and an refrigerated minibar, housed between the backseats, could be delivered; the latter was equipped with crystal glasses.
Also, the rear end of the Evolution I was redesigned. Instead of the narrow vertical tail lights the Evolution I wore a narrow horizontal light strip, which reached above the license plate over the entire width of the car. The rear view mirrors were new and fitted in an aerodynamically encased housing. Some but not all copies of the Evolution I used door handles taken from the Oldsmobile Toronado.
The engine was unchanged, it was the 6.0 liter eight-cylinder engine taken from the Cadillac Eldorado which had a (in practice problematic) cylinder shutdown system. The engine made 106 kW (144 hp) and the top speed was about 165 km/h. The purchase price of the Evolution I in 1981 was $55.000 for the basic version and $63.000 with full equipment.
The exact production numbers of this vehicle are unknown. Initially a production of 300 vehicles was planned by Pierre Cardin Automotive. However, it is doubtful that this number has been actually achieved. It it assumed that approximately 100 vehicles have been produced. At least one vehicle has been converted into a cabriolet.
I would assume that he was approached, or made it know that his name was available for a price.
Thanks — that helps to explain things. I hope Mr. Cardin charged some big royalties for this!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on the real backstory on this. This is all just PR blather.
But the blather does help to frame the story here a bit.
Incidentally, I came across this Sheriff’s Sale notice for Pierre Cardin Automotive’s belongings in their World Trade Center office (the same address as in the ad) from October 1980. Not sure if the Sheriff’s Sale actually went through or not (since these cars sold as 1981s), but clearly their business model was a bit troubled:
Just one more thing to add here, since this is a fun topic. The gentleman in the (unfortunately poor-quality) picture below is John R. Rice, the president of Pierre Cardin Automotive.
The photo was taken at some sort of social event in New York City where Rice arranged to have one of his cars displayed. This was in June 1980.
Looks like a DeLorean wanna’ be. My guess is that Rice approached Cardin and made a deal to use his name. It was the 80s, and custom glitzmobiles were all the rage. The idea here was to presumably make something a bit more tasteful than a Zimmer or Bugazzi or such.
I take it this is one of those instances where the promo shot makes the car look sleeker than it actually is? That grille and bumper is substantially shorter in that than on the production version, and those ostensibly aero side mirrors seem more clunky in real life as well. Also disappointed it lacks the strobe pinstripes all down the sides, I want the full send of tacky! It comes off more like the Grand Prix 2+2 with an aero nose cone (although the aero qualities of this are quite dubious with that inset grille and girder bumper). Curious to see the mechanical additions, because if there’s one thing the Diesel V8 needed, it was more cylinder pressure!
I guess I’m not a connoisseur of international haute couture.
Definitely NOPE. The original car has limited appeal to me, the longer snout does not help anything…
Bet that is a fun car to parallel park!
You didn’t show the back . . .
That grille (without the useless and silly front extension) would be OK.
Just added it.
Indeed, the grille bears a striking resemblence to the original 1967 Eldorado. Maybe that similarity is the reason it wasn’t used without the lengthy extension.
Not sure in what universe that front end would be considered “Gracefully extended.” “That Eldorado’s a fine car, but the front’s just not phallic enough, could you make it even longer?”
I agree with you though, the design is a solid improvement, it’s that it juts out an extra foot or so on an already long-nosed vehicle.
Normally the availability of a turbo 350 would be intriguing, but my guess for 1980 technology is it still had under 200hp.
Fittingly equipped with a Quasar Quaalude dispenser.
The front reminds a bit of the contemporary Aston Martin Lagonda by William Towns.
The thing that really piqued my interest is this:
“Evolution 1 also features a photochromatic sunroof which ingeniousla [sic] darkens as the sun’s rays grow stronger.”
I’ve often wondered why no one else has ever attempted this feature on a production car. Is it possible that the cost of the photochromatic roof, alone, could be the biggest reason for the exorbitant price?
Passive photochromatic tint film is readily available. My guess is that vehicle manufacturers don’t want to sell a new vehicle with a permanently applied variable tint that owners can’t control to their own satisfaction. Factory glass sunroofs usually have a shade panel.
I know that M-B and McLaren have offered electrochromic sunroof panels.
AFAIK, electric “smart glass” fails dark, so electrochromic window panels might not be a good idea in a road vehicle.
The new Toyota Venza has this.
I had to check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.
Best of all it’s equipped with the vaulted 8-6-4 engine! How on earth did this come to be? The cornering lights are now just side spotlights. Love to hear owner reviews. Can someone identify the knee smashers beautifully mounted under the dash? Reminds me of the Salvador Dali edition Lincoln Mark V from Second City Television.
Sorry. Linkin Murcurry Dali Edition
I think you mean “vaunted,” but maybe the V8-6-4 should have been vaulted, as in locked away so that it could never have been released on an unsuspecting public.
Wow that’s ugly. I always thought this generation of Eldorado was the absolute best; it has clean, graceful, elegant proportions and lines and wears enough jewelry and traditional luxury accents to make sure that the crowds you are wafting past notice that this car has Presence and they are in the presence of their social and economic betters. The previous models were far too bloated and comically vast to the point of being parodic rather than serious . . . and here you are spending serious money so you better have a serious and not ridiculous car. The subsequent Eldorado got its fair share of well deserved stick for being bland, short, stubby, and inelegant. . . the 92 models were beautiful again but I still prefer the square jawed handsomeness of this one a little. It’s awfully close to a G body but substantially different at the same time. The bladed front fenders are a lovely detail.
I’m surprised that the designer-automaker collaboration has died like it has. (I know, this wasn’t a collaboration, but . . .) Especially if the designer sticks with revamping the inside and doing quilted leathers in designer colours, a designer accent stripe, designer dashboard cover, etc, that could be a nice way to gin up some extra revenue and brand attention for both the automaker and the designer. I think the last popular brand-designer collaboration was Eddie Bauer Fords and Nautica Villagers.
There was a Gucci-Fiat 500 collaboration that actually looked pretty good; not sure how well they sold, though.
Cool car, but what a nose! Duesenberg revisited? Great car when you are on vacation and have the time to anticipate making turns. Thanks for the news.
Not quite the FUGLEEIST “designer” special ever hatched, but this thing would certainly be in the Top 10! 🙁 DFO
The extra overhang cost $10000 per foot.
Ol’ Pete Cardin had his skills, but automotive design wasn’t one of them. Not exterior design, anyway.
The front end gives off a distinct early-Toronado vibe; dude (however you say that en Français), attractive as that may be, it is several steps downmarket! Oups!
That overhang is positively Pinocchioesque. Impractical in a city setting for an owner-driver vehicle like a coupe.
The rear end, while clean and attractive, is anonymous; that is most definitely not in the spirit of Cadillac.
Better go back to those fabrics, mon ami!
Yes, the front end had a really unappealing overhang. You know what else did as well but costs a heck of a lot more money now?
Well yes, but no Eldorado ever cruised the high banking at Daytona.
That’s actually aerodynamic
I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought about these…
Worth noting these were lot poison when they were new. I’ve read about a dealer that replaced the front clip with the standard Charger or GTX front so he could sell it.
This looks like it is based on the rejected proposal for the Lincoln Mark VII that was penned by the designer of the Marks IV-VI.
The Jimmy Durante Special. When you want to ‘nose” out the competition. Would how many of these ground to a stop trying to enter a gas station or speed bump?
This car should be in a Viagra ad. It’s even blue.
Ha ha! Yes, perfect for a Viagra ad,,, I too thought a was a bit early for the April 1 bit. Were there really 100 people people that ponied up for this?
First the Concept SL limo, now this. What have we done to merit such punishment? 😉
Good grief! How did I miss this car back in the day?
That’s a lot of front over hang boys and girls. All the better to protect you in a frontal collision.
“While an off-the-shelf 1982 Eldorado started at just under $19,000, the Cardin-upgraded Evolution started at a whopping $58,000, and came to $61,000 fully loaded.”
It’s not fully loaded at 3x a regular Eldorado? The balls on these guys!
Paving the way for the Olds Trofeo?
As a guy whose wardrobe is basically Levi’s, REI, a bit of Patagonia, and some Target house brand stuff, the whole Pierre Cardin and Gucci thing has always seemed like it’s about the name not and not much else. Whether on clothes or AMC or Lincoln cars. So this doesn’t surprise me; neither the fact that it existed, nor that 100 or so people paid good cash for it. Nevertheless, I appreciate once again learning something from CC.
The wheels are nice.
I remember reading Cardin sold his name to all sorts of things on his way downmarket, but they didn’t mention a car.
There’s another brochure photo if you click the left arrow on his flickr page.
Dark brown with two tone brown seats.
You know, from time to time I used to refer to the ’70s as the Decade that Taste Forgot, but…!
I recognize the location that the blue car was shot at. The funny thing is that I shot this ugly duckling Ranchero in the same parking lot: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/blog/cc-cohort/cohort-pick-of-the-day-1978-ford-ranchero-defying-death/
i have number 18 evolution
1981 pierre cardin evolution number 18
The Pierre Cardin eldorado’s were designed by Cardin, and a gentleman named Hienze C. Prechter. He was the owner of ASC incorporated in Southgate Mi. The vehicles were converted at that facility. The total number of vehicles manufactured was 50. ASC was a company known through out world. They built numerous custom vehicles for many automotive companies. Mr. Prechter was highly regarded by the likes of people like Henry Ford II, Lee Ioccoca and all the people who worked for them. 49 of the vehicles were sold, and Mr. Prechter retained the last one for himself. The car was sent to his shop in Lansing mi. Where’s he converted eldorado’s into convertibles. The car was converted, and sent back to Southgate where it had a totally reworked custom interior and was painter a beautiful dark candy apple red. He retained the car until his death in 2001. The car was sold along with various other rare vehicles from his estate. I work for Mr. Prechter at the time of the aforementioned statements as his chauffeur , and cared for his stable of automobiles.