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Blundered Brougham – Revell’s accidental Cadillac in 1/25 scale

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In the December issue of Hemmings Classic Car, you can read all about the 1957-’58 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Two examples are featured there, one bone-stock, and one ex-parts-car brought back to life, looking stock but discretely modified to feel like a proper Cadillac despite a boatload of aftermarket components.

For those of us who didn’t have 13 grand to spend on a real car in 1957, or six figures to own one now, we got to play with Revell’s 1:25 scale model kit. Endless customizing and upgrading was possible through the joys of styrene plastic. But, like so many things that happened, this model kit was something of an accident.

Revell looked to GM’s traveling Motorama glitz blitz for inspiration for its kits, and was developing the Pontiac Club de Mer show car in 1956. Presumably as a companion piece, the model company wanted to make Cadillac’s Brougham Town Car concept seen at Motorama events throughout 1956. A request to GM for drawings of the concept car saw the company receive a stack of promotional photos of every production car in Cadillac’s 1956 line. (This was in the days before licensing, when car companies saw simple promotion as an added bonus rather than a profit center.) Revell wrote back to clarify what they were looking for, and were essentially shut down, as Cadillac wanted to promote its production models in scale, rather than some car-show flight of fancy.

As a consolation prize, Cadillac gave Revell the jump on what would become the Eldorado Brougham, although again only a few photographs of the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time version were given. No blueprints were ever forthcoming–only factory photos and color charts. That meant that Revell had to extrapolate dimensions from the provided photographs; they didn’t have an actual car to measure, much less drawings or blueprints. The model company assumed that the Brougham would use a standard Eldorado chassis; this notion was corrected early on, but little more help was offered.

Revell’s first pass at a completed kit, sent to Cadillac management for official sanctioning, was excoriated by the approval team: the Kelsey-Hayes “Saber-Spoke” wheels weren’t right, rocker moldings were incorrect, the grille was a work in progress, and the signature tail fins were incorrectly shaped. Cadillac management was tempted to drop the project altogether, but Revell was allowed a second chance, and it corrected the issues and was granted approval.

Tens of thousands of eager model-building kids bought the original kits, built them, enjoyed themselves, and thought no more of it. Revell stayed away from Cadillac models for decades afterward. The model company’s Eldorado Brougham model kit was rereleased as a limited-run kit to the hobby trade in 1996.