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Cadillac 1962 Coupe de Ville

I have admired these dinosaurs ever since I was a kid. In 1997 I finally had enough squirrel skins in the bank to consider acquiring one - in June, I came across a 1962 Coupe de Ville, a 2-door hardtop, in my opinion one of the best looking models ever made since the early '50s. The sight of it under an old car shed practically sold the car to me.


[illustration from owner's manual]

This car was brought to Finland from California in '91, possibly from its first owner. In any case, I'm the second owner in Finland. The car has about 50 thousand miles in the odometer and I drive around 1000 more per summer, but I have no idea if it's on the first round or not. Judging by the condition of the car, it's not impossible.

Basically the car is in very good condition, which helped my purchase decision; after all, I wanted a car to drive during the summer and not a rust pile, since I don't have the tools nor a place for any major restoration. From a couple of meters away it looks great except for the side trims which apparently have seen their share of parking lots.

Keeping an old barge like this on the road is bound to take some effort. I'll be updating repair tips and horror stories on this site, too.

[original California license plate]

Technical specifications

In '62, Cadillac offered only one engine and one transmission. There were 12 body models to choose from, including a commercial chassis which found its way under hearses, ambulances and other special vehicles. The 390 ci V8 engine had been introduced in '59, while the four-speed automatic Hydra-Matic transmission had seen use earlier in applications like the M-5 and M-24 light tanks ("the 1943 Cadillac"), during WWII.

The engine illustration is of the air conditioned model, which is distiguished by the seven bladed radiator fan with a visco clutch (and of course the compressor on top left), instead of the fixed four blade fan on the non-A/C model. A/C models also have a different ratio in the rear axle, 3.21:1 as opposed to 2.91:1 in non-A/C models. Series 75 and the commercial chassis had even larger ratios.

[engine illustration]

1962 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
Model code 6347
Wheelbase 129.5" 3.29 m
Length 222" 5.6 m
Width 79.8" 2.02 m
Base weight 4,595 lbs 2080 kg
Base price $5,385 (US)
Production 25,675
Brakes 12" drum in all corners, dual circuit
Displacement 390 ci 6380 cc
Bore x stroke 4.00 x 3.88 "
Carburetor 4 bbl Carter AFB
Fuel consumption Nobody cared in '62.
Output (4800 rpm) 325 bhp
Torque (3100 rpm) 430 ft-lbs ~600 Nm
0-60 mph 9.8 sec (0-98 km/h)
0-100 mph 17.5 sec (0-163 km/h)
Top speed 120-122 mph ~197 km/h


[another drawing from owner's manual]

Although my Caddy doesn't have all of the goodies that were available in '62, it does have the following things, among others:
  • 6-way power seat;
  • electric windows;
  • air conditioning;
  • "Soft-Ray" blue tinted windows;
  • four (4) ash trays and cigarette lighters - too bad I don't smoke. I believe the rear lighters came with the de Ville package.
A signal-seeking AM radio by Delco and a power antenna were stock items in all '62 Cadillacs. So was a heater (believe or not, it was standard equipment for the first time in '62!) and automatically released parking brake - released by vacuum when you shift the gear into any of the driving positions. This is actually a feature I've missed in modern cars (in addition to the silky smooth shifts of the Hydra-Matic). The autumn made me realize that rear window defogging wouldn't be bad, but I suppose that the original Californian owner didn't deem it necessary. The soft top was powered in all convertible models.

Some other options that were offered by Cadillac in '62 include "Guide-Matic" automatic headlight control, cruise control, central locking in doors, power vent windows (mine have to be cranked by hand), remote trunk lid opener / pull-down and a controlled differential. In addition, the Series 75 and commercial chassis had separate air conditioning and heating systems for the back passenger compartment, as well as a rear remote control for the radio.

Service manual

[shop manual cover] I even got the original shop manual with the car; it seems well used as you can tell by the cover... I'll include a few illustrations from it in case someone is interested in construction details of the time. All images are black and white JPEGs less than 100K a piece.


All of the images are linked into larger JPEGs, mostly less than 100K a piece.

On beach near the docks in Helsinki. Note the side trims on the waistline; those aren't actually original, but since they were there already, I won't go through the trouble of removing them and getting rid of the fixings. They sit on the widest part of the car and protect the sides from parking lot scratches. You'll see them on many '62 Caddies for this reason. [rear/side view]

[rear/side view] [rear/side view] Same place but different lighting three years later, with the ugly rear reflectors (remains from old registration rules) removed.

On marketplace in Helsinki. Uspensky Cathedral, the largest Orthodox church in Scandinavia, in the back.

If you happen to be in Helsinki on the first Friday of any summer month (May-September), this is the place to be at 10pm as local members of the Cadillac Club of Finland will gather here before joining Helsinki cruising night. Other old classics and custom cars often visit the place too, although most of the popular action (rubber burning, bottle throwing, etc) is around the old ice hockey stadium.

[side view]

[dashboard] [controls] You won't find much of those crappy modern plastic buttons and gadgets in this car!

You wouldn't want to pass a red hot cigarette lighter around the car, would you? That's why there were more of them back in the good old days. These are in the rear arm rests. [rear lighter]

[interior] Interior view from the back seat. Note the "soft-ray" windshield. This option includes a slight blue tint in all the other windows, too.

Four fins for the price of two! Exclusive for '61 and '62 (unless you count the 1959 experimental Cadillac Cyclone...). [fins]

Under the hood. It's a pretty tight fit... (yes, I know the air filter cover ought to be black, someone else had painted it). Power steering pump in the front, air conditioner compressor on the left. The metal gray discs behind the filter cover are vacuum actuators, which move the heater and A/C air control flaps; the mode selector in the dash panel is just a valve which directs engine vacuum around. [engine view]

And another view, a year later. Note my shiny new brake booster and master cylinder on top right. Here's the old Bendix booster / master cyl, which every supplier told me not to exist. [another engine view]

[1962 ad] An original 1962 advertisement from National Geographic magazine. Thanks to Dave Morgan for the scan.

Let's close it off by driving into the sunset. Is there anything better than Cadillac taillights in the dusk? [image]


As for any classic car, there are a lot of fine pages on the web. I'll include a few. [plaque attached to the side of the front seat]

If you want to comment (which is welcome!) on this page, my car, your pages or your car, or on anyone else's Cadillac for that matter, you'll find my e-mail address in anti-spam encoded form on my home page (see link below). Sorry for the complication, but I got tired of weeding out 16 items of crap mail every morning. The mail gets forwarded to another address, so don't be surprised to get a reply from somewhere else.
(C) Copyright Mika Iisakkila 1997-2002

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