My Car Quest

December 12, 2017

Still Missing: The Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight Twins

by Wallace Wyss

Cadillacs bodied in Italy in the Fifties?

O.K. everyone knows there’s a two seater Cadillac by Pinin Farina (the company name was spelled as two words before 1959). One was driving around Beverly Hills in 1954, owned by a record producer.

And then there were the Broughams bodied in Italy, a short production run. But did you know there were at least two other one-off four-seater Cadillacs by Pininfarina, one shown in ’58 and one shown in ’59? You can find the pictures on the internet in 5 seconds but comparing picture to picture, they are puzzling.

One is a black car and the other gray. One is a hardtop, the other a convertible. Both were called the Cadillac Skylight. The coupe had a glass roof that went from the back window right up to the top of the windshield.

There’s a drawing on the net that shows a deployable “headliner” consisting of four articulated metal panels that came out of a parcel shelf to cover the glass roof part when it got a little too toasty.

Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight

Since both had red upholstery, it is very well possible that the convertible was merely the coupe with the roof sawed off. Or the other way around, the convertible was made first and then the hardtop added. It was not uncommon for a coachbuilder to modify a show car from one year to another to get more life out of it.

Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight

But there could have been more than one coupe made, as you can find pictures of one version with a hood scoop and the other with a plain hood. Again those could have been show-to-show updates.

One of the cool things about the Skylights is that they have Borrani wire wheels. Now you could look back and scoff and say “What the hey, why get excited, those were just ‘pushmobiles,’” i.e. industry slang for bodies mounted on chassis that weren’t drivable, the chassis just being a rectangle of tubes to hold the car up on four wheels.

Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight

But then someone posted on a forum that, in the December 1970 classifieds in Hemmings Motor News , there is a display ad showing one of the Skylights for $5,000. The ad does not say it is not a running car. Oddly the tailfins are different than in the Pinin Farina publicity pictures. In the Pinin Farina publicity pictures the tailfins “kick up” at the end but in the car for sale the tailfins are straight, dead horizontal on top.

Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight

Another report is that one of the two was offered in New York in 1970 for $5,500.

Recipient of much more publicity is a later Pininfarina Cadillac (by that time Pininfarina was one word) the Jacqueline (obviously named to capitalize on JFK’s wife, then in all the news) . But that car originally was a pushmobile, only made into a running car by a private owner well after its show career ended (that car gets its own chapter in my next book).

Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight

Anyway the author would love to hear from anyone out there any tidbit about the Skylight Cads and what happened to them? It’s odd that when the list of “dream cars” created at GM by Harley Earl, is trotted out, the Skylights are not on the list, making one wonder if they were created solely on the initiative of the Battista Pininfarina, trying to anticipate GM’s taste without any input whatsoever from GM.

Curiouser and curiouser.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss’ third book in his Incredible Barn Find series is expected to break cover in the spring of 2015.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

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Summary
Still Missing: The Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight Twins
Article Name
Still Missing: The Pininfarina Cadillac Skylight Twins
Description
Have you seen these Cadillac concept cars designed by Pininfarina?
Author

Comments

  1. Ciaran J Payne says:

    Great looking cars, will be interesting if anyone can come up with their history, and as usual another coup for you in coming up with these, which always makes your blog so interesting, CJ.

  2. owen trevethen says:

    I direct you to a 1963 book “Les Plus Belles Voitures Du Monde” published by Hachette and written/edited by Jaques Rousseau and Michel Iatca which seems very well informed and describes the Starlight series as having been presented between 1960 to 1962. Shown, are the silver convertible described as having been presented at the end of 1962,(althogh it retains the wrap-around windscreen that Pinin Farina had already dropped for thier 1960/61 Eldorado Broughams) and the coupe, “Jequeline” as having been presented at the Paris and Turin salons in 1961.

    This might suggest that the finned hardtop was shown first in 1960, then in 1961 the Jaqueline coupe with its different side moldings, grille, new Brougham windscreen and rear wing treatments – a new body entirely – then in 1962 the the original hardtop with its roof removed?

    The book also shows a 1960 Buick “Lido” in the same design series and a fabulous 1953/54 Pinin Farina bodied Cadillac heavily inspired by the Buick “Le Sabre”, but better controlled and more pleasing.

  3. Will Fox says:

    I just discovered this site, and the wealth of information it offers–fantastic! Mr. Wyss, these Pininfarina Cadillacs have long been on my radar as a Cadillac fan, and I often wondered what happened to them. When I was on the staff of “Collectible Automobile” magazine, we had the `61 ‘Jacqueline’ photographed for a feature shortly after it was restored, and a period correct 390 V8/Automatic installed. Minimal in design, but fascinating nonetheless.
    I hope one day we can learn the current whereabouts/condition on the above mentioned Italian customs. I’ve seen photos also, of the `58 Buick Lido coupe and would some day enjoy finding out it’s whereabouts.

  4. Derby Preston says:

    I would like to ask if Mr Wyss or someone here might contact me . I really need one of you who is professed as you are to consult me regarding some Historical information that may be essential to the Brand . I’ve tried to contact Cadillac and GM and Unfortunetly that’s been really dissfunctional at every attempt . I’ll explain in full detail the nature of my quest ! P.S. A funny twist is that , I was given the name initially at Pebble Beach ( hold that thought ) of the supposed head of Marketing for Cadillac . When attempting to contact him via the number I was given … they wouldn’t except any information without my Vin number ! From my Porsche ? Ironically I fell into the ownership of a 1986 Eldorodo ….. Since then .

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