Book Review: Assouline's Cadillac a great read
208 pages, 150 illustrations
Hardcover – $75
Hand-numbered limited edition, 1 of 500 – $395
This sumptuously-presented book on one of the world’s most iconic automobiles is not a historical or informative essay.
Released in conjunction with Cadillac’s 110th year in the car-making business late in 2012, Assouline’s Cadillac is a presentation of a perceived voguish lifestyle of Cadillac owners.
Assouline is renowned for its luxury books on fashion, architecture, and design, and this book falls into that theme, with large avant-guard images of recent Cadillac models mixed in with black and white photos of Cadillac owners of the past, mostly actors and actresses such as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Rita Hayworth, musicians Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Presley, and former U.S. presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Coolidge.
The book does feature some of the inspiration of Cadillac styling, including the emergence of tail fins in 1948, the “Dagmar” front bumpers of the mid-1950’s, and the giant fins of the 1959 Cadillac, but there is scant information on the marque’s technical achievements.
Cadillac, which began in 1902 with founder Henry M. Leland and his commitment to quality, was one of the first to build an auto which provided solid, luxurious, and reliable personal transportation. A few years later when Cadillac became part of General Motors, it continued to set the benchmark with its masterpiece V16 engine of 1930, tasteful and well-appointed body styles fabricated by Fisher, research and adaption of automatic transmissions, and its introduction (with Oldsmobile) of the modern era V8 engine in 1949.
As the present flagship of General Motors, Cadillac continues with this philosophy, and successfully, as it is one of the oldest auto-makers around the world.
While this book does touch on some of Cadillac’s mechanical innovations and trend-setting styling, its focus is more on how the marque has influenced society. The book is lavishly illustrated with many one and two-page spreads of Cadillacs throughout its history with bold images that jump out at the reader.
Don’t expect year-by-year model breakdowns or specifications. It is not in the character of this book.
But for visual excitement and panache, Assouline’s Cadillac has met its goal.