60-year-old Cadillac Convertible gets full restoration

Staff reports
Farm Forum

A brand-new 1954 Cadillac convertible coupe was sold at a Cadillac/Oldsmobile dealership in Boston more than 60 years ago. After long and faithful service, it was sold to someone who took it home to eastern Pennsylvania with restoration plans in mind.

The second owner had begun to disassemble the Cadillac, carefully identifying each part before giving up on the restoration process. However, the convertible coupe was well protected in a garage for 20 years.

The Cadillac went up for sale in spring 2011. It was in countless pieces but, nevertheless, Randy Edison liked the convertible, even in that condition. He became the third owner, but did not take delivery of all the various pieces until the autumn of 2014. A year later, the 4,600-pound vehicle was in a restoration shop to be returned to like-new condition.

For this restoration almost all of the parts came with the Cadillac, with the exception of the chrome ornament on the engine hood. However, some of the parts were either rusty or otherwise damaged, prompting a nationwide search for replacements. For example, Edison says, the damaged left rear fender was repaired, and replacement front fenders were located in Colorado.

Originally, the Cadillac was painted Driftwood Gray, but since the interior was red, Edison opted for a more lively color from the selection that was available in 1954 — Apollo Gold. This hue of yellow paint provides a nice contrast to the black top.

The two-tone steering wheel has two spokes surrounded by a 360-degree chrome horn ring. A wraparound E-Z-Eye tinted windshield is mounted atop a wide cowl ventilator.

Power-assisted features are scattered throughout the 18-foot, 7.4-inch-long Cadillac including steering, seats, windows, top, brakes, antenna, and autronic eye to automatically dim the headlights. A Wonderbar radio has a signal-seeking feature.

When the Cadillac left the factory, it had a base price of $3,830. It rolled on 8.20×15-inch white sidewall tires, a $49 option. Its 129-inch wheelbase provides a typical cushy “Cadillac” ride, while the 331-cubic-inch V-8 engine under the hood develops 230 horsepower with the help of a four-barrel carburetor.

Much of the bright work only needed to be polished, but some pieces required replating or replacing, a time-consuming and costly process. Edison discovered the “V” emblems on both ends of his car are 18-karat gold-plated.

Several years ago, several friends had urged Edison to find an antique car in the best condition he could afford, instead of tackling a full-blown total restoration. But that was prior to seeing his Cadillac convertible coupe. Now that the task is complete he is pleased with the end result. “It’s one of my expensive life lessons,” he said with no regrets.

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