by Wallace Wyss –
When a Cadillac designed by Pinin Farina (before they were one name) came up at auction, Bonhams said it was one of four Italian Cadillac based styling exercises built by Pinin Farina between 1958 and 1961, but this author has found other Pinin Farina built Caddys such as a Pinin Farina Model 62 Cadillac made in the year 1954.
Ironically, while researching this story I came across pictures of other Pinin Farina-built Italian Cadillacs that preceded the Jacqueline, including one called the Starlight. This might have been commissioned by Cadillac, as General Motors introduced it at the Paris Motor Show in October 1959.
The story went on to say that before that there was another PF Cadillac prototype called the Skylight, which was an open car of similar styling.
The Starlight’s big innovation was a coupe roof of Plexiglas, which could be covered with four metal plates inside. That in turn was preceded by a coupe version of the same car, which also was shown at the European Auto shows at the same time.
Some questions that come to mind are: who was the Italian car nut within GM? Was it Harley Earl? Or his right hand man Bill Mitchell? Was Detroit shoving money at Italy an attempt to counter what Chrysler was doing with Ghia?
And, where did these Italian Cadillacs go–the Skylight, the Starlight? Do they still exist–are they hidden deep within Pininfarina’s works? Or GM’s? Or were they melted down to make a dozen Fiats?
To this writer’s knowledge, only the Jacqueline and the ’53 PF-designed and built three-seater have reappeared on the show/auction circuit. There is a possibility that the Starlight was for sale in New York City for $9,000 at one time as a running car, but their is no confirmed reference yet. Readers?
After all their labors, Pininfarina did get a Caddy contract, around 1959. They made some Eldorado Broughams. And decades after that, Cadillac did award a production contract to Pininfarina for the Allante, a two-seater reportedly designed in Italy. There’s no doubt it was bodied in Italy, and that, for a time, fulfilled Cadillac’s ambition to have an Italian-connected car to sell in the U.S.
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THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss’ Incredible Barn Finds series is now available from Enthusiast Books (715) 381-9755.Each book has 50 such stories.
Photos courtesy of Pinin Farina.