Auto manufacturers always have been eager for celebrity endorsements, and professional golfers seemingly always have had a love for quality automobiles. Of course, winning a major golf tournament is the perfect combination to pay for new wheels or get a direct hookup from the factory.
In the first half of the 1900s, Walter Hagen enjoyed his 1921 Columbia and Vauxhall 20/60 Hurlingham; Gene Sarazan, a man of refined taste, found himself in a 12-cylinder 1932 Packard 906; and Ben Hogan, who drove a 1949 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, might have survived a horrific broadside from a bus because of his stout ride.
These early golfer/auto-manufacturer relationships were loose (we’ll return to Hagen, Sarazen and Hogan in future articles), and formal player endorsements and sponsorships would become more common by the 1970s. Today, we launch a new series on golfers and their auto endorsements from the 1970s through the 1990s, which just so happens to include some very sweet rides paired with great golfers. We kick it off with one of the most popular golfers (and pitchmen) in golf history: Arnold Palmer.
Arnold Palmer – 1974 & 1975 Cadillac Eldorado
At one time, Palmer was part of the Lincoln-Mercury Sports Panel, but by 1974 Palmer threw his endorsement behind the Cadillac Eldorado. Another high-end luxury vehicle, the 1974 Cadillac Eldorado was a beast, as it weighed more than 5,100 pounds. Cadillac’s 500-cubic-inch V8 engine was responsible for its power and could propel the car to 118 mph. Stopping was made easier by power brakes. Of course, luxury vehicles of the 1970s weren’t built for speed and power alone, and the pillow-leather interior, air-ride suspension and futuristic instruments (featuring a digital clock) provided the refinement worthy of the Cadillac name and an Arnold Palmer endorsement.