Here’s one solid candidate for the title of most garish Cadillac dream car ever conceived: the gold-trimmed, animal-skinned 1950 Cadillac Debutante.
When chrome and leather aren’t enough, how do you kick things up a notch? With 24-karat gold plating and exotic animal skins, evidently. That was the apparent strategy behind the Cadillac Debutante dream car, built for display at the 1950 Chicago Auto Show and at the General Motors Mid-Century Motorama, which was staged at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan that same year. In the company’s press materials, the Debutante was described as “the most luxurious Cadillac ever constructed,” and its value was estimated at $35,000.
A Detroit furrier was commissioned to obtain the 14 choice animal skins, described as “Somaliland Leopard from the East Coast of Africa,” that were used to cover the upper portions of the the front and rear seats and portions of the door panels, while the seat lowers were upholstered in opalescent gray nylon silk. (Today we’ve found a more practical use for leopard skins: on leopards.) Adding to the spectacle, all the interior trim including the instrument bezels, horn rings, and door handles—and even the ignition key—were plated 24-karat gold.
Based on an otherwise production-spec Series 61 convertible, the Debutante was painted a bright shade of canary yellow, which Cadillac called Tawny Yellow Buff, then prepped for show duty, as shown below. What became of the car after that is unknown, but as with so many one-off GM show cars, it is presumed to be lost and destroyed.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.