LIFESTYLE

Cruising beauty: 1958 Cadillac

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During the 1958 model year, the Cadillac Division of General Motors built 13,335 Series 62 four-door sedans. Each one of them had a base price of $4,801. One of those sedans was purchased at the Earl Stoyer Cadillac dealership in Schuylkill, Pa.

The 1958 Cadillac served the original owner well for 15 years before the automatic transmission failed in West Virginia. A towing service was summoned to haul the ailing Caddy away. Upon learning the cost of the repairs, the owner signed the title over to the towing service owner and left West Virginia.

After repairing the car in 1974, the second owner parked the Cadillac beside a wood pile under a maple tree behind his house. He did place blocks under the rear axle of the 4,675-pound car so the wheels could occasionally be turned. There the Cadillac sat for 15 years.

Bill Wine, of Woodstock, Va. restores old homes and in June 1989 he was working on a nearby house where the Cadillac was parked. Another man also working on the house told Wine about the ‘58 Cadillac near the wood pile. Wine drove by the address and saw the car covered with maple tree leaves.

“It was covered in a lot of wood grime,” he says.

There was no “For Sale” sign visible, but he telephoned and talked to the owner of the Cadillac. Wine went to see the Series 62 sedan in the presence of the owner and a deal was agreed upon. Then the owner asked, “Don’t you want to hear it run?”

The mufflers on the dual exhaust system had long since rusted away, so when the 365-cubic-inch V-8 engine roared to life windows in the neighborhood shook.

The dirty car was towed 35 miles to Wine’s home. There his wife Cherrie awaited with her arms crossed.

I’m never riding in that car,” she stated emphatically.

The tail fin era of the late 1950s has always been a favorite of Wine. He quickly set about vacuuming the neglected interior and washing the exterior multiple times. A new set of white sidewall tires replaced the worn out old ones. Eventually, he realized a total restoration was required, so he parked the Cadillac car under a cover in a garage until 2002.

“It had nearly all the accessories offered in 1958,” Wine says, including power seats, power brakes, power steering and power windows.

The AM radio was equipped with the Wonder Bar seek and scan function, as well as a power antenna. Atop the padded dashboard is the “autronic eye” that automatically detects the lights of approaching cars at night and dims the Cadillac’s headlights.

Wine’s restoration process took 42 months to complete. During that time a dark regency metallic green finish matching the original was applied. The rusted floor pans were replaced as was the tinted wraparound windshield. That windshield is kept clear by a pair of vacuum-powered wipers.

“The bumpers and some side trim were sent to Pennsylvania for replating,” Wine says.

Matching fabric was located in the Carolinas and new dark green carpeting covers the floor. In a nod to safety, Wine has installed seat belts. Under the engine hood the four-barrel Rochester carburetor has been rebuilt. Relatively new at the time were the quad headlights. Four 5.75-inch sealed beam units replaced the two 7-inch headlights. The left taillight is hinged to reveal the hidden gasoline cap.

While the dashboard with the 120-mph speedometer was removed during restoration Wine took the opportunity to clean the electric clock, which now keeps time accurately.

Since he has rolled the rejuvenated Cadillac out of the shop on its 129.5-inch wheelbase, Wine has driven his befinned beauty less than 1,000 miles. One of those trips occurred last May when he drove his older daughter to her wedding in the car. Wine’s wife has changed her mind about never riding in the Cadillac. She now embraces good weather cruising in the luxurious car.

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