Nobody understood why I started dragging home old Cadillacs. I couldn't explain the appeal to people. I knew - there's a presence to them that's undeniable - but my friends and coworkers thought I was crazy. But now that the big green thing is complete, they get it. It's style. It's got such huge presence as it glides down the road. It's so huge. Is it perfect? No, not at all. But it looks good and is great fun for bombing around.
I seem to have a thing for iconic cars. The Miata may not be the classic British sports car, but I can count on it to run and it is what kickstarted the roadster renaissance. The Land Rover looks like it wandered right out of National Geographic. And nothing screams confidence and American excess like a giant Cadillac. I never have a hard time deciding what to drive, as they're all so different.
Besides, I live 500 miles from Las Vegas. How else to get there but in a Cadillac? Elvis or Hunter S. Thompson, you decide.
I got a '66 because it and the '65 are my favorite years for styling in the Cadillac line. Cleaner than the excessive late '50s cars, much nicer than the crass cars of the '70s and with a really cool interior. Besides, they're cheap. Both of mine are 1966 Sedan De Ville hardtops, the next best thing to a convertible. They came with the 429 cubic inch Cadillac engine for that wonderful rumble.
It's interesting working on the Cadillac versus the Rover. Parts are dead easy to get and cheap, and Cadillac was really trying to be the "standard of the world" at the time. Many of the features you see on luxury cars now, only all run by vaccum and mechanical systems. It's a little complex!
I started with a blue car purchased off eBay and christened "Daddy". You can read up on him on his own page. Unfortunately, the seller wasn't accurate in describing the car. "All electrics work" - well, yes. Except the climate control, the radio, one of the windows, the parking lights, the interior lights and more. He also had totally shot rings and blew a smoke cloud that would put James Bond to shame. So Daddy got parked and became a parts car. All the good stuff went on to the green one.
The next car hasn't gained a name. It's just "The Cadillac". A donation to a charity, this one looked bad but ran well. My friend Rick Weldon was able to stop by and check the car out before I purchased it. When it arrived at the shop, my coworkers alternated between making fun of it and feeling sorry for me. But they couldn't see what I saw...
Other members of the fleet:
Basil, the 1967 Land Rover
Baby, the 1990 Miata
The Brave Scooby
|Yuk. Someone stripped the paint off the car then never got a chance to spray it. But the body was perfect with the exception of two small rust spots on the front fenders. Notice the black California licence plate. The car sat in our shop for a couple of months before the title arrived.|
|Once the car was registered, I drove it for a while to make sure it was okay. It's a little bigger than some of the others in our parking lot. I did have to replace the water pump and I put in a Pertronix ignition, but otherwise the car seemed good. People get out of the way of a 19' long car with bad paint.|
|Before it went in to the paint shop, I stripped the car as far as I could.|
|I chose to use the orignal colour again for the new paint job. It took 6 coats for the colour to show up, and then a gallon of clearcoat to finish.|
|While the car was getting painted, I pulled apart the interior and polished every bit of chrome. The best parts from Daddy were stolen away, including both the front and rear bumpers. This is my kitchen. It's a good thing I'm single.|
|Reassembled. Well, almost. There are a few bits of chrome yet to be installed in this shot.|
|Unlike the Rover or the Miata, nobody has ever had to ask what kind of car this is. They just ask what year.|
|Since the dash pad was badly cracked, I covered it in fuzzy leopard print. The elbow pads on the doors got the same treatment. Around this time, people started using the word "pimp" a lot.|
|From the driver's seat. Can you see the MP3 player? Of course not. It's hidden away, but easily accessible.|
|The timeframe for getting the Cadillac done? I was meeting Doc in Vegas, where we would celebrate our birthdays. You may remember that Basil had a similar timeframe, two years earlier. A last minute repair to the rear main seal, and I was on the road. No surprise, it's an excellent highway car.|
|Welkome to Amerika! Doc and Caddy at Lake Mead.|
|If you're going to Vegas, I highly recommend a big Cadillac. Everyone loved it. We even got into a drag race with a 1965 hearse on the Strip. This is in front of Circus Circus.|
|Despite not having been on the road in years, the only side effect of an 1100 mile trip across the desert and the mountains was a lost bolt on the exhaust manifold. I replaced that in Vegas.|
|In Moab on the way home. I'm pretty happy.|
|The paint after a lot of hand sanding.|
|The Cadillac comes to work.|
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