Acquired through persistence: 1966 Cadillac Calais

Staff reports
Farm Forum

Occasionally good fortune unexpectedly comes knocking on the door. Of course, one must to be prepared to open that door. Such a scenario unfolded for Joe Rivenbark at his DunRite Transmission repair shop.

A few years ago, a customer drove into his shop in a sparkling blue 1966 Cadillac Calais four-door hardtop sedan. He was the second owner of the car and had come to the transmission shop to get a few minor mechanical issues addressed. As Rivenbark inspected the Cadillac, he was so impressed by the overall condition of the 1966 sedan that he inquired whether it was for sale. Rivenbark was not surprised, but still disappointed, to learn the Cadillac was not available.

As the years passed, the gorgeous Cadillac occasionally was brought to the shop for maintenance issues before a persistent Rivenbark finally convinced the owner that he would be the perfect third owner of the classic car. The owner eventually agreed and the title to the car changed hands in March 2014.

Paperwork that came with the car indicates it was purchased new on June 23, 1966, at the Lindsay Oldsmobile-Cadillac dealership in Alexandria, Va. The initial owner had traded in a 1961 Cadillac on the new 1966 Calais four-door hardtop model.

In addition to the $5,171 base price, were optional features such as, air conditioning ($484.15), power windows (115.80), AM radio ($187.90), six-way power seat ($110.55), undercoating ($95.50), power door locks ($68.45), white sidewall tires ($56.35), EZI glass ($50.55), Autronic eye ($50), twilight sentinel ($28.45), floor mats ($16.90), hazard warning flasher ($11.60), license plate frames ($11.50), and door guards ($7.20).

The 120-mph speedometer is easily viewed from the driver’s seat through the three-spoke steering wheel. Although most of the windows are power-operated, the small triangular wing vents on the front doors remain manual with hand cranks.

Almost everything about the 4,465-pound car is original. “It was so original, I couldn’t pass it up,” Rivenbark says. The cushy ride on the 15-inch tires is typically Cadillac-smooth, thanks to a lengthy 129.5-inch wheelbase supporting the 18.5-foot-long automobile.

All of that enormous automobile is propelled by a 429-cubic-inch V-8 engine, delivering a refined 340 horsepower.

Above the pair of stacked headlights crowning each front fender is a turn signal light that can be seen only by the driver. Inside the generous-sized trunk is the spare tire, which Rivenbark has dressed up with a spare wheel cover. According to his way of thinking, “his Cadillac deserves the best.”

When Rivenbark acquired the Cadillac the odometer had counted only 96,000 miles; since acquiring the vehicle, the car is now approaching the 98,000-mile mark.

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