Walter M. P. McCall, in his book 80 Years of Cadillac and LaSalle, wrote “The stunning (1938) Sixty Special strongly influenced the look of GM and other American cars for years.” The first car completely designed by legendary William Mitchell, it was an immediate style leader and sales success. As McCall wrote, from there on “(the) Sixty Special name was reserved for Cadillac’s most distinctive four-door sedan.” It was the top of the line when it came to owner-driver automobiles, just below the Seventy-Five Series limousines.
By 1960, the Sixty Special was still serving as a style leader. Following the glitzy, outrageously finned cars of the 1950s, Cadillac began to pull back, and the Sixty Special hardtop emerged with a much cleaner design. A fabric covered roof set the car apart. A wide chrome moulding adorned lower sill, rising up at the taillight to circle up and run where the (lower than 1959) tail fin met the body. No other decoration appeared on the sides, leaving a very clean, sleek look.
On all 1960 Cadillacs, the front grille lost the previous year’s horizontal bar and gained metallic projectiles, a treatment that was repeated between the taillights on the rear panel under the trunk lid. The design was created to give off a sparkling, jewelled effect to the front and carry that cohesively to the rear.
This particular black 1960 Sixty Special was shot during the 2016 Taste of the Kingsway street festival in Toronto (I am part of the team that ran the car show component). The car is owned by a local collector who brought 4 cars to the event (this, a 1959 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, a 1966 Chrysler 300 convertible and a 1980 MGB).
I was drawn by those grille ornaments, though on this day, the sky wouldn’t clear. Still, those grille elements managed to shine and give texture to the car’s front end.
I shot this with my Nikon D3200, using my 18-55 lens at 30mm, on auto settings. It was shot on an overcast afternoon, at ƒ4.5, 1/250s shutter speed and ISO 100. The image was brought in to Photoshop for resizing, cropping, and levels adjustment, then in to Topaz Adjust to modify the levels and contrast more radically as well as sharpening the image to create more of a pencil drawing effect, though without making it a black and white image.
The above image is available as a 20”x16” print, contact email@example.com. Below of course is the original shot for comparison.