Author Topic: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?  (Read 1570 times)

Offline m-mman

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  • Name: Jim Crabtree
Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« on: September 13, 2017, 12:13:55 PM »
I recently found this (hand written) letter in the papers of a long time Cadillac owner. It is addressed to GM but obviously it was never sent. Did the author recopy it and mail that one? We will never know.

It is very reflective of the Mad Men era when smoking was ubiquitous and perhaps the owners of 1963s (maybe 1964s?) would like to comment on the legitimacy of the compliant.

Also what do you think of the author's disappointment over the 1961 & 1962 Cads?
Enjoy  :)


January 7, 1963
Cadillac Motor Car Co.
General Motors
Detroit Michigan

Dear Sirs,
I was delivered my sixth Cadillac, a 1963 model, last month and am happy to be once more in a luxury car. My 61 and 62 Cad cars were not in my opinion luxury cars.

However, the ash receiver in my new car leaves much to be desired. The left hand receiver is much too small and directly in the way of my right knee. The right hand ash receiver is inoperative 90% of the time. As a matter of fact you owe my wife two pairs of nylons from the sharp corners.

It’s too bad about the designer of these items, you did let him go didn’t you? My friend who also buys your product yearly is now known as “two finger Tony” as his ash receiver closed on his fingers when he pushed in the lighter.

All in all it’s a lovely car but those ash receivers, gee, I hate apologizing to my friends especially the other luxury car owners who ride with me.

Sincerely yours,
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 12:16:34 PM by m-mman »
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Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 01:50:38 PM »
Entirely valid.

Popular Mechanics had conducted an owners' report (feedback) of 1963 Cadillacs back in the day based on a survey of "905,927 owner driven miles".  46.2 % had no complaints whatsoever. Of the rest, the top single complaint was the ash trays. (9.9%)

They did say however this is something of a left-handed compliment: A car has to be pretty good if the biggest complaint is its ash trays.

     
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Offline gkhashem

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2017, 08:45:59 AM »
I always thought the grills on the 1961 and 1962 Cadillacs looked like they were borrowed from Chevrolet too.

I think that's what the owner was saying when he said the 1961 and 1962 cars were not luxury cars.
1959 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday Sports Sedan
1964 Oldsmobile 98 Town Sedan (OCA 1st)
1970 GMC C1500
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1978 Cadillac Coupe Deville (Sr Crown #959)*
1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royal Brgham Coupe (OCA 1st)
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Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2017, 02:10:12 PM »
If I said it once, I said it a million times - there are 61/62 Cadillacs and there are all other Cadillacs. Few neutrals on the "Skegillacs": Those who like them, really like them; those who dislike, really dislike.

(Of course there's also subset of those divided on the styling merits of 61 vs 62 as well).

Neither meant to be a good or bad thing about either. Just what is.

A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Offline m-mman

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2017, 05:14:28 PM »
Interesting . . . was it the skegs? or maybe something else. . . ?   :-\

While the Imperial for 61 & 62 wasn't that much different, I wonder how much the all new 1961 Lincoln might have affected a fine car buyer's opinion about what a "luxury car should be"?

The engines, transmissions and basic features of each make wasn't really changed during these years.
The only stand out unique feature in the luxury car field was the rear door opening and 4 door convertible of Lincoln.

Could the slab slide Lincoln have changed how buyers looked at Cadillac? Even a loyal Cadillac buyer?
Could an early 60s Cad prospect have felt that fins were out or fashion, whether they were on the trunk or the rocker panel?

Of course they did eventually buy the Cadillac, as Cad did out sell them both during these years. . . . But in 1963 Cadillac did have more of a  'slab side' look . . . And Elwood Engel did bring the slab side styling to Imperial for 1964, so times were changing.


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Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2017, 05:50:40 PM »
The 1963 capitalized on the success of the '60 model, restrained and modernized in the idiom of the early '60s.

Cadillacs of the early to mid '60 secured Cadillac's place in the fine car field like never before, outselling Lincoln & Imperial combined, 2 to 3(?) times over.  Imperial was frumpy, Lincoln's dowdy spartan look way too ahead of its time, the competition they provided Cadillac for the most part, ineffective.

The 1963 model delivered everything the public wanted in a luxury car- and in a luxury car called Cadillac, ashtrays notwithstanding.  ::)

1963 was a Cadillac year. 
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 06:00:14 PM by Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621 »
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Offline m-mman

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2017, 07:25:02 PM »
And the opinion that 1961 and 62 were not real luxury cars really didnt mean that much to him because it seems this person is one of those VERY LOYAL Cadillac buyers who drops into the dealer every 12 months to exchange his one year old car for a brand new one regardless.
Maybe the ashtrays were full? ???

Come trading time he probably would never even consider turning into another luxury dealer. Regardless the styling, he was a buyer. The only choice was "What color this year Mr. Smith?"  ;D

Lease buyers trade on a regular schedule today. It is hard to imagine that there were cash or finance buyers who were trading annually.  But it was these folks who kept Cad going for decades. The high resale value for a used Cadillac really helped maintain this capability.

It is nice to have a loyal following. Unfortunately these folks started dying off in the 1980s & 1990s and Cad suffered.
1929 341B Town Sedan
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Near Los Angeles, California

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Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2017, 07:50:53 PM »
The '61 no doubt came as a shock of coming off the heels of the '60, and all that preceded it. In that context it's easy to see why some many regarded it is something less (or other) than a "luxury car" that they had known. Sales declined slightly in '61.

Styling was refined in '62 and regained a bit more of a Cadillac look - especially in the grille and rear end. The refinements were apparently effective since '62 sales set a new record for the first time since '56.

By most accounts, the '62 was generally well received back then and was also a great year for the industry as a whole. A friend once said, everybody made a good car in '62. I think there's some truth to that statement.
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Offline V63

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 08:35:26 PM »
The general styling for the whole 1961-2 Cadillac line had its introduction with the 1959-60 ELDORADO brougham. My understanding was that the design was so well received it was carried over to the whole line.

That said...if you were the purchaser of a new 59 brougham...your car was still in style by 1962!

One  uniqueness of the 1961-2 models was that they were a bit 'down sized'.

Sales trends can be misleading as there is a direct connection to economic events.


Offline D.Smith

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2017, 10:24:32 PM »
I read that same review of the 63s Eric.  As you said, funny that the biggest complaint was the ashtrays.  LOL

The 61s really weren't a big downsizing event.   They were only three inches shorter.   BUT more importantly they were bigger inside.  Plus easier to get in/out without the dogleg knee knocker.   The rear doors are six inches wider and open up 7.5 inches farther.   A shorter door sill also made entry easier.  The roof was taller too.   

The only thing I could see missing from 61 that the 60s had were the door mounted courtesy lamps.   No door lamps in the 61 Devilles, just reflectors.     And yes, I too have had people see the car from the front and ask if it was a Chevy.    The horizontal turned rear lamp assemblies also give a Chevy look to some people.     The 63s definitely had a much taller front end and more Cadillac like resemblance to the 1960 models.   

My only complaints with my 61 are the lack of front compartment interior lighting (map light only) in my deVille and that the spare tire takes up too much room where it is mounted.    Oh, and I'm not a fan of the center bin type glove box.

Offline James Landi

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 10:55:54 PM »
I was fortunate as a college student back in '65 to drive a used 61 Convertible Cadillac, and my mother drove a '60 Sedan deville, and my father had a used '63 Imperial .   There were several engineering improvement on the 61--- most notable, in my opinion, were the front A frame rubber bushings and an attempt to make the 61 feel more athletic and more agile; and yet, the effect of comparing the two Cadillacs was that the '60 had a "ride" that was more traditionally a Cadillac "boulevard" ride...  my parents were convinced that the 61 was a far "lesser" car compared to the other family sedans.  It didn't help that the '61 quickly developed "rust through" around the headlights and then ahead of the rear fender skirts.
I loved my "white charger," so I learned to do body work, and the white exterior paint could easily be matched with "rattle can" white spray paint.  I had that car for over ten years, and simply kept patching it-- I loved the design--- especially the profile---which seemed youthful and powerful.   It proved to be a very durable car as well (except for the rust).

Offline David Greenburg

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2017, 03:38:30 AM »
As someone who currently drives both a '60 and a '61 on a regular basis, and sometimes back to back, I concur with James' recollection.  The '60 feels larger and heavier and is more of a handful to manage on the road (despite the '60 being on radials, and the '61 on bias plies).  The '60 feels quicker, and probably is since its an Eldorado.  I agree that the '61 feels more athletic, despite the bias ply tires. To me it feels smaller and more modern. I was very surprised that it is the same width as the '60.  As far as the "luxury factor," it is had to read the mind of car buyers from 55+ years ago, but I can see how the '61 redesign would feel like less "heft" and therefore like less of a luxury car among the country club set.  Asking me which one I like better is like asking me which of my children I like better (or what I imagine that would be like, having only one kid).
David Greenburg
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Offline russ austin

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2017, 07:50:29 AM »
The 63 front passenger ashtray really is a terrible design. Relying on a push latch system, it was prone to rattles and unreliability. A service bulletin was released, and a new latch system was designed for the 64 year. The same placement of the front ash trays, but a much improved passenger ash tray was in the 64.
R.Austin

Offline James Landi

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2017, 05:47:59 PM »
THere was that wonderful period at G.M. before the safety consideration of using soft materials throughout the cabin, when interior wood trim was in vogue on Cadillacs.  I believe certain up scale model 63's - 66's had that terrific wood trim and the leather.  So very nice....

Offline Jason Edge

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2017, 05:54:55 PM »
Actually, there were 3 serviceman bulletins released regarding the faulty 63 RH ashtray (Nov 1962, pages 56-57-58; April 1963, page 20; and May 1963, page 25).  Whoever, designed this probably spent a lot of time in the Principal's Office!  I have to agree with one of the early posts, however, in that if that is the main gripe about the 63 Caddy, it is one terrific car. As far as the 61-62 body styles, you can peg me in the neutral column on the skegs.  My biggest gripe was always the front end treatment. I always thought the rear, including the skegs, was uniquely Cadillac, and perhaps the culmination and capstone of the era of aeronautic and astronautic inspired cars.  I came to the Cadillac world by way of my 1964 Coupe de Ville (bought Nov 13, 1996); and had a prior affinity for the 50's Cadillacs (especially those Elvis rolled around in), and of course the 1964's sister model year - the 1963's, but have to say my appreciation for all model years & body styles continues to grow exponentially as I grow older. In particular, I think the 61/62's are fantastic cars that represent Cadillac style perfectly.   
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Bill Young

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2017, 01:25:02 PM »
In 1975 I bought a gold 1963 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible with a white top and black and white interior. It was a bucket seat car with every option. I believe I paid $600.00 for it it had no rust and the interior was spotless. The ash trays when you closed them were spring loaded and like a guillotene . I could see where a picky person might have written a complaint letter.

Offline Roger Zimmermann

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2017, 03:02:25 AM »
Also in 61, the cantored the rear leafs, eliminating the rear hopping and spin outs of 60 and previous cars.
Art, I don't understand what you are writing here, because from 1958 onwards, the rear suspension was with coil springs.
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Offline 64\/54Cadillacking

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Re: Letter of complaint from new 1963 owner - is it valid?
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2017, 06:03:21 AM »
There is a TSB on the 63-64 models regarding the passenger side ashtray that would keep falling down and wouldn't stay put but never would imagine the issues being such a big deal on the driver's side. I think the ashtray in most cars were in the location of the 63-64 Cads back then, I guess the springs got weak over time and caused problems.

I owned a 61 Lincoln Continental, and the ashtray are on each door panel, including the driver's side!

So imagine smoking a cig, and constantly having to ash it on the armrest while driving, that would be a huge inconvenience and one to sure make a mess on the armrest and possible damage from hot ash falling on top of it. I remember seeing a Motortrend article on the 61-63 Lincolns, and that was an issue many editors had when they reviewed the car. But I think Cadillac did a much better job at locating the ashtrays, even if they had problems staying shut or being in the way of someone's knee.

As crazy and cool looking as the 61-62 models are, the 63-64 Cads are more elegant and have that 59-60 throwback styling to them which is very attractive IMO.

Plus you still had a nice high-quality interior and performance that was the best of the bunch.

I wonder how different the ride quality was or the ride type from a 61-62 to the 63-64's (floaty/athletic sharp)?

The 59-60 Cads are slightly bigger cars in length, including from all the extra heavy chrome bumpers, and obviously, weigh more than the later models, so that might contribute to that extra "heft" feeling and better ride quality vs the smaller 61-62's.

Cadillac seemed to keep revising their suspension tuning every year, from super floaty to nice and steady.

Also starting in 65 Cad changed the positioning of the rear springs and no longer used the upper rear control arm with a ball joint that is mounted on the rear axle, this changed in design removed that sort of wobbly floaty feeling ride which I personally love, in favor for a more planted feeling. The frame changed as well giving the car a different feeling too. I believe the rear mounted upper control arm gave the rear suspension better ability to adjust to different road conditions and allowed for better movement and flexibility compared to the fixed trailing arms of the later Cadillacs.

I think the 64 model year was the end of the whole late 50's suspension technology and overall design aesthetics. The 65's were truly a different car than the ones before it, and seem more modern compared to the earlier ones.

Not sure which years are the best, but all I know is, I love them all for different reasons!
1964 Sedan Deville (Own)
1987 Brougham D’Elegance (Sold)
1954 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special
1994 Fleetwood Bro (Sold)
1972 Sedan Deville (Sold)
1968 Coupe Deville (Sold)
1978 Lincoln Continental (Own)
1979 Lincoln Mark V Cartier (Own)

 

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