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1954 Cadillac “Die Valkyrie” designed by Brooks Stevens

In 1952, a man named Metzenbaum from Cleveland, who was into real estate, wanted a car that combined modern style with the spirit of the early 1940s. He desired the luxury of a Lincoln Continental and the powerful Cadillac V-8 engine introduced in 1949. To create this car, he enlisted the skills of renowned industrial designer Brooks Stevens from Milwaukee. The car was named Die Valkyrie, after mythical wind sisters from opera. Stevens used a Cadillac Series Sixty-Two chassis and V-8 engine as the base, keeping much of their structure unchanged. He replaced the body with a sleek convertible design, featuring a long hood and short deck, along with a removable roof panel and a small cloth top for emergencies.


Die Valkyrie's most distinctive feature was its large and sharp V-shaped bumper and grille, intentionally designed to showcase the engine underneath. The car had unique elements like recessed headlamps and a nearly flat hood that predicted future Big Three car styles. The taillights on Die Valkyrie also foreshadowed later Cadillac designs.


Brooks Stevens incorporated a special door design that concealed long openings for easier back-seat access and created a natural two-tone color break, which became his trademark. The car was built by Spohn Works in West Germany for its meticulous craftsmanship. While there were plans for more, only six Die Valkyrie cars were ever produced, and only three are believed to have come to the U.S. One of them, shown here as number two, can be seen at the Brooks Stevens Museum near Milwaukee.


One significant design element of Die Valkyrie was its massive "V" bumper at the front, meant to highlight the fact that most American high-end cars had V8 engines, while European cars typically had straight six or eight engines. Brooks Stevens was known for his black and white color scheme used in many of his concept cars.

Images: Brooks Stevens Design; The Bortz Collection; archive.mam.org