The Look of Luxury: 80 Years Apart
It should come as no surprise that here at Frank Kent Cadillac, we’re fans of luxury and luxurious, sophisticated details in our vehicle. But when we started thinking about it and discussing it here at our dealership, we realized that “luxury” is an interesting sort of word. Even though it has a constant definition – referring to elegance and refinement – as time goes on, what we think of as indicative of “luxury” can certainly change. This is something we see when looking at a used Cadillac: what was once the height of luxury can become a standard feature, or even fall short of what’s not standard.
Of course, the further back you go, the more pronounced these changes become, with many modern features and options going beyond what drivers would have imagined decades ago. To showcase the way that luxury and sophistication have changed over the years, we thought it would be fun to go way back and take a look at what a Cadillac looked like in 1940 compared to what we see in a 2020 model that you’ll find here at our dealership today. Although a 1940 Series 60 Cadillac is not exactly what comes to mind when most of us think of a “used Cadillac,” we still thought it would be an interesting look at what “luxury” has meant and means today.
The 1940 Cadillac Series 60 Sedan
One of the most popular Cadillac models in 1940 was the Series 60 Touring Sedan or Series Sixty Special Sedan. Although it was introduced in 1938, by 1940 the Series 60 had really established itself as the premier luxury driving experience for car owners. It had incredible features inside and out, particularly for a pre-war vehicle, and there were four different trims available for it.
The standard 1940 Series 60 Touring Sedan featured a 346 cubic inch (the equivalent of a 5.7L engine today) V8 engine that could provide about 130 hp. This was paired with either a 3-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic and made for an awe-inspiring driving experience 80 years ago. This model was a four-door sedan that lacked running boards and was the last year where side-mounted spare tires were available on the Series 60. The exterior of the 1940 model was quite striking, with a bold front grille and round headlamps that caught your attention and led your gaze along with the sleek, swooping curves that surround the front wheels and invariably pulled your eye to the rear of the vehicle.
Chrome detailing on the 1940 Series 60 Cadillac was pretty minimal, creating points that grabbed your eye with exquisite features both inside and out. Cloth seats were standard inside and finely stitched to be comfortable and durable, with a two-tone interior that is quintessential to 1940s styling. Even though this car was introduced 80 years ago, it featured a heater so the driver and passengers could remain warm and comfortable while driving year-round.
The standard Touring Sedan model started at about $2,090, and 4,242 of them were manufactured and available for purchase in 1940. There was also an Imperial Sedan model available, which started at $2,230 and featured a retractable glass partition between the front seats and the rear, making it ideal for use by a chauffeur – 113 of them were made. Finally, two open-front Town Car models were produced: one with a leather-covered roof and the other with a painted hardtop roof. In 1940, only 15 of these Town Car models were produced: six with the leather-covered roof at $3,820 each, and nine with the painted metal roof at $3,465.
The 2020 Cadillac CT6 Sedan
It’s been 80 years since the Series 60 Sedan from Cadillac, so how far have we actually come? To get a sense of what luxury looks like today, let’s take a look at the 2020 Cadillac CT6 sedan and see everything it has to offer. Though, we can tell you right now, pitting these two cars against each other wouldn’t be a fair fight.
The engine in the CT6 is an absolute work of art: an available 4.2L Blackwing Twin Turbo V8 engine that delivers 500 hp and 574 lb-ft of torque. Even if you go with the standard engine in the CT6, you get a 3.6L V6 engine that offers 335 hp. That should give you a sense of how far automotive engineering and design has come: more than two-and-a-half times the horsepower from a smaller V6 compared to the older V8. While that Series 60 engine was stunning in its day, this is definitely a sign of progress; plus, the CT6 comes with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The exterior styling of the CT6 may be significantly different from what the Series 60 looked like in 1940, but it still demands attention and looks stunning. The Galvano surround grille with bright accents and LED headlamps are gorgeous and functional, demonstrating the height of sophistication without overdoing things. Little touches like illuminated door handles and heated power-adjustable side mirrors again display this marriage of luxury and functionality.
Inside, the CT6 has one of the most gorgeous and comfortable interiors we’ve ever seen. The Platinum trim, for example, features 20-way power-adjustable heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats with heated, ventilated, and messaging rear seating too. Available jet black leather seating with magnesium paddle shifters truly demonstrates what the pinnacle of luxury and sophistication looks and feels like. And if that’s not enough, the Platinum features a 12-inch full-color digital driver cluster, a configurable head-up display, and a 34-speaker Bose Panaray sound system. We could keep going, but the point is that the level of luxury available now surpasses the wildest dreams of drivers 80 years ago.
On top of that, the 2020 CT6 also has incredible safety features that help protect you and your passengers on the road. These include available and standard features like adaptive cruise control, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and HD Surround Vision. Reverse automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, a lane keep assist system with lane departure warning, and a lane change alert with side blind zone alert are all designed to make sure you are safe while enjoying the highest level of sophistication.
There are only three trims available for the 2020 Cadillac CT6, but we feel that’s just perfect. The standard Luxury trim starts at $58,995 and showcases the new starting point for a luxury experience with a power sunroof, handcrafted cut-and-sewn interior, and leather seating surfaces. The Premium Luxury takes things even further with a rear-seat Infotainment system, quad-zone climate control, and active noise cancellation, starting at $74,495. Finally, there’s the Platinum, which features the powerful 4.2L Blackwing engine and 20-way adjustable seating, which starts at $96,495.
We’ll admit the price tag may have gotten a little bigger, but the list of features has grown far beyond anything imagined in 1940.
80 Years of Vision
Whether you love a classic or yearn for the latest and greatest, we understand exactly how you feel here at Frank Kent Cadillac. We have been selling Cadillacs here in Texas since the 1950s, so while our legacy might not quite be 80 years, we’re not far from it. If you’re interested in a new or used Cadillac, then visit us at Frank Kent Cadillac today and experience how luxury feels for yourself.