Monday, September 17, 2007

And the Caddies Keep on Coming: 1978 Coupe DeVille!

Everybody's got that one car that just does it for them. And often, these cars have subtle variants that make ownership of more than one necessary. Some people collect tri-year Chevrolet Bel Airs, while others collect tri-year Ford Thunderbirds. Not me, though. I can't resist nor explain the tacky charm of a "tri-year" baby Cadillac.

It's all Big Red's fault. My beloved and long gone Firethorn Red 1979 Coupe DeVille is the reason I can't get past my love of the first generation of the "baby" (1977-1979) Cadillac Coupe DeVilles. And with the purchase of this very rough around the edges Ruidoso Saddle Polycoat 1978 model, I have now owned one of all three years. Purchased on a whim (and a desperate need for parts that are not in any way reproduced) last Saturday night in Warwick, Rhode Island for $400, I can't say enough about the things I like about the car. The interior is in decent shape and most everything works, right down to the eight-track player; this was proven as the car came with a complimentary copy of Jimi Hendrix's Smash Hits under the seat! The car has a lot of good things to donate to the cause of the mild restification of my Naples Yellow 1977 Coupe DeVille. The car runs and drives decent, and most of its 94,000 miles were highway, as it was used by the previous owner for frequent runs between Warwick, Rhode Island and Buffalo, New York. I plan to swap all of its good parts onto the '77 before the bad weather sets in, and swap all of the '77's lesser parts back onto this car before sending it on its way to the highest bidder, so it's as complete as possible after taking all the parts off of it that I want or need.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rescued: 1971 Cadillac Sedan DeVille

"Rescued" is probably the best term to describe what happened to this car late this afternoon. Under very tragic circumstances, I was called upon to take this 1971 Cadillac Sedan DeVille from its former home, under threat that it may see the junkyard by the end of the week if something was not done. I don't want to go into too many details or name names out of respect for the others involved, but the story behind how I came to own this vehicle does deserve to be told here in some capacity. If any of my readers wish to find out more of the specifics then they are more than welcome to send me an e-mail and I can point them in the direction of dozens of news articles that will tell the entire story. So, here goes.....

At the end of last weekend, two friends returning from a hiking trip decided to make a stop in a small New Hampshire mountain town to grab a bite to eat and check a few things out before heading home. One of the places they decided to stop at was the local Army/Navy surplus and outdoor gear store. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own whatsoever, this decision proved to be the worst decision they could have ever made. Seconds later, a deranged man who had run a crime spree up and down the East Coast burst into the store with a gun and demanded money from the owner. A small scuffle ensued and the store owner was shot and killed. With the gunman still inside the store, the two young men rushed to aid the store owner and they, too, were tragically shot and killed. One of these young men was the owner of this Cadillac. He was only 25 years old.

A week later, after the young man had been laid to rest in his home town here in Massachusetts, a phone call was made and I was told to come get the car because it pained his parents to see it sitting in the lot in front of the family business. I made the forty mile drive with my girlfriend without hesitation, dropped in a fresh battery, and drove her home. It started up on the first turn of the key, and, although she's a very tired and very beat old car, rode straight and smooth as a Cadillac should. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the car, as it seems to be just on the edge of being unrestorable (structural rot in the frame), but if my inconvenience provides a grieving family with another small step in a healing process that will take a lifetime, then it is more than worth it to me. If any members of his family or any of his friends or acquaintances are reading this or ever stumble upon it, I would like them to know that the car is in good hands, it will never be junked whole, and it will never be raced in a demolition derby. Even if the car is to be parted out, then it will be done so only after I determine the car to be too far gone to be fixed as a whole. Any way you slice it, the car will not go to waste in my hands. It is the very least I owe to the memory of its young owner whose life was cut so tragically short.

I love these old tanks to death, but this is the last way on Earth I ever wanted to end up with one. Stay safe, everybody.

Monday, July 02, 2007

1974 Lincoln Continental Limousine: Sold!

Yes, that's right. Another fine old car destined for the heap has been saved and placed in the hands of a new owner. The 1974 Lincoln Continental Executive Limousine by Moloney Coachbuilders, Inc. that provided me countless hours of entertainment as a little boy has been sold to a Lincoln collector from New York. Unfortunately I was not able to keep her myself; with my current space situation it is all but impossible to accomodate a vehicle approaching 22 feet long. I knew the gentleman was the right person to take her when he drove out to meet me in his daily driver Turquoise Moon-Mist 1979 Town Coupe and a deal was struck that afternoon. My feelings were confirmed when he made arrangements the following Monday for a local repair facility to rebuild the transmission, redo the entire brake system, and put a brand new set of tires on it so he could drive the car home. I couldn't imagine a better person for the car to go to and hope he gets many years of enjoyment out of it as I once did. And if he ever goes to sell it in the future, I have his word that I will get the first option to buy, which, mark my words, will be done in about half a second whenever that phone call comes. Even Mister Cadillac has a soft spot for a Lincoln or two!

Monday, May 21, 2007

All Aboard the Banana Boat: 1977 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

Here she is, my new old daily driver. The "Banana Boat," as it is called by my family and friends, is a Naples Yellow 1977 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Bought from a gentleman in Milford, New Hampshire (the same town where my 1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille was bought for those keeping score at home), the car originally came from Oklahoma and it is absolutely unbelievable how spotless it is top to bottom and inside and out. Seeing the overall condition of this car and my old 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, which was an Idaho car, makes me never want to buy a vehicle from New England again. The average used car around here that is described as "extremely solid" has roughly as much rust as the Titanic. That's why I have to search high and low to find cars like this Coupe that haven't been completely consumed by the tin worm. It's remarkable, really; even things like the fuel tank straps that rot away on EVERYTHING here in New England are not rusted and there are still factory chalk marks clearly visible on the rear differential cover! It's got 84,000 miles on it and merely needs stupidly simple cosmetic things like a new headliner and a set of rear fillers like every other car that was ever made with ABS plastic fillers does. I'm a sucker for the first generation of the "baby" Cadillacs (1977-1979), and this one was way too good to pass up. Since selling "Big Red," my 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, I've never been able to get the desire for another of this generation out of my head, and this one being in the same color as my mother's '85 Eldorado that I spent a good chunk of my childhood riding around in was certainly an added bonus. A virtually spotless, relatively low mileage, ice cream-colored two-door Cadillac with a white leather interior couldn't be more me. And for $700, I wouldn't even think of chancing the fact that it might not get to sit in front of my house. I'm not even going to suggest that I would never sell the car because I'm tired of putting my foot in my mouth, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. And for the time being, the big yellow Cadillac will do just fine for my transportation needs. Gas prices be damned!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sold: 1996 Buick Riviera

Yes, you read it right; my 1996 Buick Riviera has been sold. The one vehicle that I thought I wouldn't be selling any time soon is in the hands of a new owner in southern New Hampshire. Not to worry, though, because I sold it to a gentleman who is very much like myself. My Riviera will be a daily driver for his daughter and will be living amongst a dozen interesting vehicles, including a 1969 Pontiac GTO convertible and a half-dozen first series Chevrolet trucks. What was the reason for the sale, you ask? Well, lots of things. She may have had the heart of a teenager, but the rest of it was showing and acting its age. Despite all the preventative maintenance I have always done as well as addressing problems when they arose, it kept acting up. It wouldn't always shift into gear in the morning on the first try, every now and then it would backfire through the plenum and blow all of its vacuum hoses off, and on rainy days it liked to start on half its cylinders. That coupled with the fact that I was about 99% sure the fuel pump was on the way out because of the way it would intermittently cut out at random moments finalized my decision. I ended up getting about $500 over book value for the car with the ABS light on, the traction control light on, full of dings and dents from two and a half years of everyday service including spending major time in the every man for himself parking lots at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and its set of winter wheels on it. That's right, I got to keep the chrome turbines with the whitewalls! They are safely locked away in storage with my '67 Eldorado and all my other spare parts and other such automotive treasures.

As for a new ride, don't worry, I found one. I got to put a lot of money in the bank and am back in a car that is far more what I'm into than this car was. A mid 90's transverse-mounted V6-powered front wheel drive vehicle just doesn't cut it anymore, no matter how cool-looking and unique it may be, especially when as many problems arise in such a short time as in the case with this one. Now it's in the hands of another true enthusiast that will give it whatever it needs to give another 150,000 miles of faithful service. It may be gone, but the memories of all the good times had with the car will last forever. Who knows? I may even cross paths with it again as it only moved about twenty miles north. And until that day comes, I wish it and its new owner all the best. Godspeed, little egg.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"Big Red" on My Cadillac Story

Remember my Firethorn Red 1979 Cadillac Coupe DeVille? Well thanks to my friend Silvester I have just one more reminder of why I never should have sold it. Unbeknownst to me, he sent a photo of "Big Red" along with some photos of his 1986 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham to My Cadillac Story. For those of you that don't know, My Cadillac Story is a website published by General Motors where proud Cadillac owners can post photos and share their stories of why they still believe the marque to be the Standard of the World. I had toyed with the idea of sitting down and writing a nice long story on how I came to be interested and submit photos of my '79 Coupe, '71 Coupe, '67 Eldorado, my mom's '85 Eldorado she had when I was a little kid, and all the others I had some sort of personal connection to over the years. Apparently, however, my friend Silvester has beaten me to the punch on at least one of them. So get on over to My Cadillac Story, scroll down till you see a Firethorn Red 1979 Coupe DeVille with the name Silvester Humaj, and get reading. Then read the others and submit your own if you're fortunate enough to own one of these fine machines!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Razorback at Rest

Reader Martin e-mailed me with this amazing and heartbreaking photo of a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado languishing out in a field where it appears to have sat for quite some time as it is sitting up to the axles in dirt. Funny thing that he should send it to me today as hours earlier I had gone to visit my 1967 Eldorado and was thinking to myself of how much of a project it would be in spite of the fantastic original shape it's in. Needless to say, after seeing this photograph, I don't feel so bad.

Yeesh. What a sad end for a fantastic automobile. I sent Martin a lengthy e-mail back about the feasibility for the average hobbyist to restore a vehicle in such a state of neglect and this one seems well out of most anybody's reach. The roof could probably be peeled back like the lid of a sardine can without too much effort and the thought of what the undercarriage must look like is not for the faint of heart. Still, if I were ever to get the winning Powerball ticket for some obscene amount, rest assured that I would be picking this car up first chance I got to be restored to factory perfect. For the car's sake I'm keeping my fingers crossed.