1959 Cadillac Broadmoor Skyview. Photos courtesy of Bonhams.
Opened by founder Spencer Penrose in 1918, the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was intended to be one of the finest luxury hotels in the world. In 1937, the facility purchased a fleet of customized Cadillacs to take its guests on sightseeing excursions, and over the years newer and grander versions were introduced. In 1959, the hotel updated its fleet with six new Hess & Eisenhardt-built Cadillac Broadmoor Skyview limousines, and on March 9, the final example constructed heads to auction in Amelia Island.
The first Cadillacs purchased by the Broadmoor for sightseeing were 1937 Cadillac Series 37-75 limousines, built by A.J. Miller and equipped with roll-back canvas tops to give passengers a view of the area’s spectacular scenery, at least in fair weather. A year later, four specially built 15-passenger Cadillacs joined the fleet, followed in 1942 by a pair of Cadillac Series 42-75 sedans. These “Gray Line Touring Cars” served multiple purposes, shuttling guests to and from the Colorado Springs airport, or running sightseeing excursions up Cheyenne Mountain (now home to the underground operations center of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD), Pikes Peak, or through the Garden of the Gods.
In 1955, the Broadmoor’s fleet was upgraded with new Cadillac coaches, ordered through Hess & Eisenhardt, with Sayers & Scovill (S&S) hearse bodies. These were modified with four tinted Plexiglas roof panels, or, as on earlier cars, a roll-back canvas roof. Inside, four rows of seats provided room for up to 11 passengers plus the driver, though for airport runs (with luggage), the carrying capacity was reduced. Six examples were delivered by Hess & Eisenhardt in 1955, followed by two more in 1956.
Just three years later, in 1959, the hotel placed another order for six coachbuilt Cadillac limousines, this time turning to Superior Coach for its Broadmoor Skyview models. Based upon the Superior ambulance / Royale hearse body, each Skyview came equipped with a three-panel Plexiglas roof that afforded an even grander view of the sky, thanks to the reduced steel structure surrounding each window. The side windows were taller, too, and the windshield used was reportedly the largest version available from GM, giving passengers (as before, up to 11 on sightseeing excursions) as unobstructed a view of nature as possible.
The Superior-built Broadmoor Skyview coaches rode on a 156-inch-wheelbase heavy-duty commercial chassis, and measured nearly 21 feet in overall length. Power came from Cadillac’s 390-cu.in. overhead-valve V-8, rated at 345-horsepower and mated to a four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. While six of these coaches, designated with the unfortunate model number 666, were built for the Broadmoor, evidence suggests that two more were assembled by Superior, possibly in anticipation of additional customer sales. The Broadmoor Skyview to be offered in Florida is body number eight, making it the last example constructed.
This coach remained in service with the Broadmoor into the early 1970s, as documented by service records in the hotel’s name dating to December 1969. It’s next owner was George Reichert of Mansfield, Ohio, who kept the car until 1978, when it was purchased by a Cadillac collector in Branford, Connecticut, who endeavored to keep the Skyview as original as possible.
In preparation for its sale at auction, the Cadillac received a mechanical sorting that included an engine rebuild and repaint (along with the firewall and engine bay); new carpeting, cut using the original carpet as a template; a new exhaust system; a new master cylinder and wheel cylinders; a rebuilt fuel system and cooling system; new rubber hoses; and new wide-whitewall tires.
The Cadillac is known to have been repainted at some point in its life, and the current finish is described as “very presentable,” along with the brightwork. Inside, the believed-original leather upholstery is patina-rich, but remarkably preserved given the car’s age and one-time commercial use. While several 1955-’56 Broadmoor Skyview models have hit the market in recent years, sales of these later examples (all six of which are in museums or collections today) are rare, and Bonhams predicts a selling price between $175,000 and $250,000 when this example crosses the block in Fernandina Beach.
For more information on the upcoming Amelia Island Auction, visit Bonhams.com.