Previous Next

Lot 216

1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz 'Raindrop' Prototype

  • Engine no. 58G049932

Sold for $324,500

Series 62. 335 bhp, 365 cu. in. OHV V-8 engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension, and four-wheel hydraulically actuated power drum brakes. Wheelbase: 129.5 in.

  • A one-off GM Design prototype with numerous unique features
  • Equipped with the fascinating Raindrop prototype top
  • Reportedly used by Harley Earl during his retirement in Florida
  • Documented and well-researched
  • An important landmark in 1950s GM styling

This car is called a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, but very little of it is shared with the Biarritz that you could have purchased from a dealer that year. The body, from the doors back, is paneled in hand-laminated fiberglass, including the 1959 prototype fins, which are identical to those used on the production cars, save for the small “bullet” lights that screw on from the outside and the molded chrome spears on the front fenders and doors. All of the body moldings were eliminated, save for the wheel opening moldings; the lower part of both the front and rear bumpers were color-matched to the car; and the backup lights were relocated under the license plate frame.

Numerous codes and numbers appear throughout, with a metal tag bearing original styling project codes and numbers on the back of the rear seat, and many of the unique trim pieces have the designation SO 90175, 90175, or #5 on them throughout. In addition, many of the hard trim pieces have drawing numbers stamped, molded, or etched on them, which confirms the car’s original custom-built authenticity.

The interior is just as special, with four bucket seats arranged around a console that contains an ice bucket and a humidity sensor. That sensor is part of the most special feature of this car, the “Raindrop,” which is one of General Motors’ most fascinating gadgets of the 1950s. The Raindrop never actually made it out of the prototype stage, but it is believed to have been installed for testing on three 1958 Eldorado Biarritz, of which this car is one.

On this particular car, the Raindrop system utilizes three major components, the convertible top itself, a three-piece metal top boot, and a humidity sensor mounted between the front bucket seats. When a few drops of water strike the humidity sensor, the main center section of the top boot moves rearward into the trunk area, while the two pieces alongside fold down into the rear quarter panels. The top then rises automatically and lowers onto the windshield’s header bar, where it automatically screws down. The power-vent windows close, followed by the windows in the doors and then the rear quarter windows. Voila! A top that has closed on its own, with no human intervention required.

The car was reportedly given to former GM Styling Director Harley Earl for his Florida retirement, and there is a 1991 letter on file from Richard H. Stout, of Delray Beach, which attests to his having seen Earl in the automobile and that the car was equipped with a Raindrop system at that time. Later, it was purchased by a Cadillac dealership in Dayton, which began a restoration that utilized a new 1958 Coupe deVille frame, engine, and drivetrain, along with the original car’s bodywork and special features. The restoration was completed by the next owner, with the car appearing as the cover feature of the March 1998 issue of Cars & Parts magazine. It was eventually sold to prominent Florida collector Al Wiseman before passing into the ownership of the Andrews Collection, where it has remained a well-maintained visitor-favorite for a decade.

As one of only two Raindrop cars that survive, and the only example with a functional top system and special design features, this is arguably one of the most important and historic of all post-war Cadillacs.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more