1956 CADILLAC View Master Wagon by Hess & EisenhardtView vehicle description
Cadillac waited 105 years to offer a standard production station wagon, though this was no obstacle for a privileged handful who simply had theirs custom built. During the generations between 1902 and 2007, conversions were produced by a few different coachbuilders, though Hess & Eisenhardt cars are particularly well regarded and sought after.
Other custom-built coachwork credited to Ohio-based Hess & Eisenhardt included armored limousines for various monarchs and presidents, and notable period View Master owners included Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, and boxing legend Joe Lewis.
Only 19 Hess & Eisenhardt View Masters were made - 12 in 1955 and seven for 1956, and just seven survive today, placing them among the scarcest of all American coachbuilt classics.
This example appears to be highly complete and original down to its fabulous 3M DI-NOC “wood” side paneling.
On the Outside
All fourth generation Series 62’s are large, 18 foot plus cars, whether convertible, sedan, two-door, or post or hardtop, and yet the View Master is on an entirely different scale.
This one retains its original fiberglass and DI-NOC faux wood detailing, and also appears to be complete with all factory and custom coachbuilt brightwork and trim.
Common lore says that View Master tailgates are modified, repurposed Chevy Nomad items, though if true, said modifications would have been quite extensive, as the two designs appear to share little beyond a passing resemblance.
On the Inside
The car presents similarly complete and preserved inside, including yards and yards of spectacular, seafoam leather. The original radio has been replaced with a modern, retro-look item, but otherwise nothing seems to be out of place. Note the condition of the headliner.
In accordance with the car’s exclusive nature, rare under-dash a/c is equipped, and sale includes the system’s original brochure. Note the “custom built by the Hess & Eisenhardt Co.” plaques mounted on either side of the front bench seat, as well as how the rear bench folds flat for greater cargo capacity.
For 1956, Cadillac’s 365 ci V8 had its compression ratio bumped half a point to 9.5, which liberated an additional 15 hp for a total of 285.
View Masters were built from a mix of two factory Cadillac models, including a standard production Series 62 as well as a commercial Series 86 (normally supplied for ambulances, hearses, and airport cars) cowl and floorplan.
The car is sold with a fair deal of documentation as viewable in the full gallery.
What We Think
Coachbuilt Cadillacs are inherently special things, especially those built after custom bodywork’s 1930’s heyday. Only seven View Masters remain, making them even scarcer than open-top V16 Cadillacs. Estimated $30,000 - $50,000.
It should be noted that this vehicle has been on static display for a number of years and there is no history available beyond that displayed in our photography section.
We have not started or driven the car so cannot vouch for its mechanical viability or functionality. It will require recommissioning prior to road use and is sold ‘as seen’.
Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.
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- Location: Gardena, CA, United States
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 19504
- Chassis Number: 5662095225
- Engine: 365 cu in. V8
- Gearbox: Auto
- Steering position: Left-hand drive
- Colour: Blue
- Interior: Blue / Leather
- Estimated Price: $30,000 - $50,000