Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
XP715

Project ELDORADO

37 posts in this topic

In terms of my relatively short time (compared to seasoned veterans like Camino and balthazar) buying, selling, trading, hunting down, working on, and enjoying older vehicles, it has been my experience thusfar that sometimes the best and most interesting things of all are not found; they find you. Such is the case with my current project car: a 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado coupe.

This is so because at the time at which I came to own the car (October 2006), I was not at all "in the market" for a giant two-door American land yacht to cruise around in, or for any other car for that matter. A 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme I had bought on a whim the previous fall and another car I had recently picked up as my new fair weather driver/project in addition to my daily driver were more than enough to keep me busy for quite some time. Earlier in the year, say around the first week of June, I had bought myself a nice 1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille for $1200 from the back lot of a tiny mom & pop garage in southern New Hampshire after seeing it a few weeks previous on a junkyard trip with Sixty8. Needing only minor repairs, I put roughly about $300 worth of stuff into it (complete tuneup, ported vacuum switch, carburetor rebuild, cleaning and painting a few things, etc.) and drove the wheels off of it the rest of that summer and into the fall. I loved the car and was looking forward to taking it off the road for the winter months to do a little bit more mechanical work and some body work to get it ready for paint and a new vinyl top.

Little did I know, though, that an opportunity to own a car I'd wanted for a long time would present itself soon after. Because of what I do and what and who I've grown up around, cars have been a part of my life since before I could walk. So when it came time to get a full-time job as I headed into college, something to do with vehicles seemed to be the most natural choice. I've been a manager with two different auto parts stores for four years, am ASE certified, and have worked usually 6-7 days a week around a full-time school schedule. Being in that environment for that amount of time means that you develop certain relationships with the people that visit you most frequently, and these relationships sometimes lead to the acquisition of certain things once your "regulars" find out what your hobbies are. I can't tell you how many simple conversations I've had over the years so far that have led to somebody simply handing me or extending me an invitation to a home or garage to buy a box of old car magazines, antique license plates, old car parts, and other such associated items. Word of mouth is sometimes king when you're actively pursuing certain things. And when you drive the type of vehicles to work that I usually do, leaving them on display for those that are at least loosely involved with the kinds of things and people you are, it doesn't take long before people start coming in looking for "that kid with all the crazy old cars" to tell him about a forgotten car sitting in a local garage or backyard that a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend's uncle owns. Most of the time it turns out to be either misinformation or a rotted out piece of junk that nobody at all would want even for a demolition derby car, but every once in a while something interesting comes up.

So I'm at work one night in late October 2006 and my '71 Coupe DeVille is sitting off to the side of the building. A guy walks in, asks me about the car, and seemed to know the whole story of its former whereabouts before I had a chance to tell him myself. Turns out, he is BIG into wheeling and dealing in old Cadillacs (he had fifty at his house and another fifty in storage offsite in all years and body styles, from the 30's to the 70's; no lie.) and a friend of his who is into the same sort of thing actually wanted the car for himself, but I apparently had bought it out from under him unknowingly. He had test driven it maybe a few days previous to myself, but it was me that had left a deposit first. The guy asks me what I would want for the car, and I told him I really hadn't thought about it because I planned on keeping it for a while. He then told me that he had just bought FOUR of the first-generation front wheel drive (1967-1970) Eldorados off an old man the previous week, two 1967's and two 1968's, and he was looking to sell one of the 1967's complete as it was the best of the bunch and part out the other three. He told me if I was interested that I could go up to his house and take a look at it and maybe we could work out some sort of partial trade for my Coupe DeVille. I told him I'd think about it, took his phone number, and left it at that.

A day later, after mulling it over in my head a couple times, I figured I'd at least take the trip out to look at the car because I always try not to leave any stone unturned. So after I got out of work at 9:00 that night, I made the 110-mile drive out to the gentleman's house and was led into the large garage across from his house. When I walked inside, I was amazed. There she was. A wonderfully faded but rock-solid 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado coupe, Ember Firemist with a white vinyl top and a white leather interior with black carpets and dash. The car was one hundred percent complete, ran decent, drove and shifted well, every little thing right down to the power antenna still worked, and it came with all its appropriate parts in the trunk (the correct fender fillers that had been swapped out for a pair of 1968-1970 turn signals, the correct carburetor that had been replaced by an Edelbrock the gentleman had sitting around just to make the car run, etc.). Aside from a set of cracked exhaust manifolds that I felt I would be able to get elsewhere, I thought the car was in spectactular shape. There was a reason for this. The car was bought new by an elderly gentleman from Rhode Island off the showroom floor at the famous Peter Fuller Cadillac-Oldsmobile on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston and driven sparingly until his death until 1972. This was all documented and I have the car's 1971 Rhode Island inspection sticker amongst the numerous service records that came with it. The car sat unused in his garage until 1986 when his wife died; at which time one of his sons took the car out of storage and immediately sold it to a man in Wilmington, Massachusetts; about ten miles from where I live. This man owned the car and stored it inside for most of the twenty years he owned it until the gentleman I was to buy it off of bought it off of him, which would make me only the third registered owner of the car in forty years. I decided then and there I wanted the car, but it was a little bit out of my budget. He wanted $3000 firm for the car. The gentleman told me $1500 and and my Coupe DeVille would take it, and I told him I'd have to think about it. We ended up going back and forth on price and other things were offered, and finally we reached a deal: I would give him my 1971 Coupe DeVille, my 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme sedan (that I paid all of $230 for!), and $300 cash for the car. With the help of Sixty8 and speedingpenguin, the three of us caravanned up there with my two cars to claim my prize:

eldoday1.jpg

Here she is, exactly as I found her the night I first went up to look at her. This photograph is from the night I took it home. That's me in the gray sweatshirt scratching my chin and speedingpenguin standing next to me. Bill, the gentleman I bought the car from, is the one leaning up against it (Sixty8 took the picture). After a few hours of talking and a nickel tour of the property to see the other cars he had, paperwork was exchanged and we were off. The car made the 100-mile ride home without incident, ran great, put out great heat, and produced some great tunes from its factory AM/FM radio. I parked it in front of my house, and drove it to my storage unit behind my father's shop the next day:

poo259.jpg

poo265.jpg

And just like that, a car went from not even being on my radar screen to tucked away in my "toy box" in less than a week.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool story.

What's it need?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always loved the look of those things!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I absolutely LOVE this gen Eldorado. No other car has repeatedly caused me to circle it for 20-30 minutes, drinking in the lines and eyeballing all possible vantage points. The lines on this car are towering, monsterous, hell, I've never come close to owning one but I've dreamt about a '67-70 more than once. I am amazed it has not yet 'taken off' in value- it's overdue for that.

Looking forward to the plans for this one.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What's it need?

Ooooooooooooookay, time for another story!

After getting the car home, I didn't have time to drive it or do much of anything else before the winter came. I had a brand new car with a brand new set of issues and needs, so I didn't have much of a gameplan for the winter months like I did with my '71 Coupe DeVille. Fast forward to summer 2007. Classes had ended for the semester and I had some time to work on the car. I figured the best thing to do first would be to track down a set of exhaust manifolds to replace the ones on mine that were cracked, as it was the car's only real serious mechanical problem that had not been dealt with. From there I could see how the car REALLY ran, and formulate a plan of action from there. This proved to be a difficult task. 1967 is the last year that Cadillac used their 429 cubic inch V8, and the only year it was used in the front wheel drive Eldorado, being the first year of production for the car in that configuration. The exhaust manifolds for the front wheel drive car are different from those on the rear wheel drive models, meaning this was a one year only piece. 17,930 of these cars rolled off the line in 1967, making it a semi-rare car and the manifolds a very rare piece 40 years later. The hunt was on to find a set, and eventually I had them tracked down for $125 a piece. I was prepared to buy them in a few weeks time if another set I had also heard about for slightly less did not turn out. Enter the parts car.

Anybody that knows me knows that I am on craigslist about 700 times a day and have a bunch of routine searches I do in all the New England states. So when I typed "Eldorado" into the search box on craigslist Boston and the first car at the top of the list was a freshly posted 1967 model with no photographs, I decided to inquire about it further. The asking price said $1500, but right up front, the woman that e-mailed me told me that she knew the car was not worth anything near that, and was merely taking a shot. She said her husband bought it four years previous as a father-son project, but there never seemed to be any time for it, so there it sat. The car turned out to be in the next town over from where my Eldorado resides, so I figured why not go take a look at it.

PC1.jpg

Yeesh. What a sorry sight this thing was. Here at the end of a nice brick driveway at a nice house on a nice street in a nice neighborhood in a nice town was this disgusting, beat up 1967 Cadillac Eldorado sitting on two flat front tires. What had started its life out as a VERY attractive and highly optioned car had been reduced to this mess. This car had the Guidematic auto-dimming headlights, optional front disc brakes, AM/FM radio; everything you could think of right down to the extra "D" note horn and the extremely rare rear window defogger! And it somehow ended up here, mucked up in inch-thick bondo and fiberglass matting underneath a coat of BEIGE HOUSE PAINT! Literally. Like, the can was half-full of hardened paint and still sitting on the passenger's seat. I took one look at the car and said to myself "if the exhaust manifolds on it are good I'll try and haggle for it, but if not I'm walking away." So I popped the hood, anxious about what I was about to see and nervous about what size bees nest I'm probably about to tear in half in doing so, and looked inside. Under the hood was as much of a mess as the outside and interior of the car was, but in the middle of it all was a Cadillac 429 with two pristine exhaust manifolds attached. I told her I'd give her $200 for the car and she accepted immediately, excited to have her beautiful yard back. Another $50 got the car across town to my father's place, and I got to work. I got a whole extra car for what just the exhaust manifolds would have cost me! Turned out to be the best $250 I'd ever spent as all of the delicate, time-consuming stuff had already been removed: all the brightwork was wrapped in paper and sitting in the trunk!

I ended up taking out every usable piece I could off of it, and sent the car off to the junkyard as just a completely gutted body with a broken windshield, one door and the trunklid on it. Nothing of the main body section was usable; the firewall was severely rotted through around where the heater box mounted and at one point in its life it was hit so hard in the passenger's side rear quarter panel that the support brace inside the trunk was crushed in and had broken off where it was welded. I stripped the nose off completely, took the front wheels off, unbolted the transmission mounts, removed the steering column, and then cut the frame off at the firewall with a torch, taking the entire engine, transmission, and front suspension with steering box and the complete front disc brake setup in one unit. I put a chain around a few sections of this front section of the frame, picked up the whole unit with the bucket of a Bobcat we have down at the shop, and drove it inside my storage unit and set it on a pallet to be disassembled at my leisure. Which reminds me, I need to get those front calipers off and rebuilt; I'm swapping the front drums out on my car in favor of those. It's nice to be able to make improvements like that with all factory stuff!

PC2.jpg

Rest in peace, mighty parts car. You made the ultimate sacrifice so one of your brothers may live forever!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great second chapter.

More!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is my favorite generation Eldorado, I love them. There is actually one sitting in a driveway near my house....I sometimes wonder if I should just knock on the door and ask about it. :P

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the '67s had separate 'fender blanks' where the '68's running lights are... as opposed to being solid there ??

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before the 2008 CTS, the only other Cadillac I truly loved was the Eldorado.

Some of my favorite Eldorados.

1959

59pnkeldoextpc4.jpg

1968

1968eldoradoax8.jpg

1999

1999eldoradohu0.jpg

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So the '67s had separate 'fender blanks' where the '68's running lights are... as opposed to being solid there ??

Yes. In '67 only the cars have the parking lights/front turn signals down in the bumper and the "fender blanks." In '68-'70 the cars have a smooth front bumper and the parking lights/turn signals where the '67's "fender blanks" go. My car came with a set of '68-'70 parking lights installed but not functional (just bolted in, not wired for lights) and the blanks in the trunk. I'm debating whether or not to leave them in and make them functional. It's not correct for the car, but I also think the blanks are the only thing "wrong" with the '67 model; to me they make the car look sort of "unfinished." Also, in the interest of not making the front of the car look too gaudy, I'd probably want to switch to a '68 bumper to eliminate the turn signals down there as well. I'm open to everybody's arguments on this.

Believe it or not, the 1967 models have a few ways of being mechanically and physically different from the others:

-Powerplant: 1967 only had the Cadillac 429; 1968-1969 had the 472 and 1970 only had the 500. (a 1970 500 out of an Eldorado is the Cadillac engine to have if you want to do a performance build on one of the engines from the "new" V8 family (368/425/472/500).)

-Brakes: 1967 models had front disc brakes as an option and drums came standard. In 1968, front disc brakes became standard as many people complained that the big car was a little bit difficult to stop with four wheel drums. (My car has four wheel drums, but the parts car had the optional front disc brakes, which I will be swapping onto my car)

-Hood and "cowl" area and windshield wipers: 1967 only has a hood that stops about five inches from the base of the windshield and then has a two-piece (formed in two halves, right and left, and bolted together in the center) cast aluminum filler piece that has six "cowl vents" in them, as well as a hole on each side for the ends of the wiper mechanism. The wipers on a 1967 model are completely exposed and swing in an opposing pattern (like this: / \ ) from one another. In the 1968-1970 models, a completely different hood was made that goes back to the base of the windshield, the filler with "cowl vents" is eliminated (too bad, this is a nice detail), the wipers are now hidden below the end of the new hood, and they swing together (like this: \ \ ) like most vehicles in order to have proper clearance for the new style hood.

-"Fender blanks" (as mentioned before): 1967 only had cast aluminum endcaps painted body color in the slots in the front fenders and turn signals in the front bumper; 1968-1970 models had a smooth front bumper and turn signals where these blanks go on the 1967 models.

-Sideview mirrors: 1967 is the last year for the old style round sideviews; in 1968 Cadillac would switch to the trademark rectangular sideview with the "Cadillac" script that would be used all the way up through the years until 1992 when the last of the old-style rear wheel drive Fleetwood Broughams rolled off the line.

-Sidemarker lights: 1967 models only have no rear sidemarker lights; in 1968-1970 models, a small round sidemarker light in the rear quarter panel with a Cadillac crest over it is present.

-Trunk "vents": 1967 only had small "vents" on the inside of the crease at the top of both rear quarter panels. Here's a picture of the parts car to illustrate. One of the holes can clearly be seen because the "vent" piece had been popped out:

PC4.jpg

These serve no purpose whatsoever. It's a slotted vent made out of cast aluminum that sets into this hole and painted body color. Underneath that is a screen to keep big stuff out (pine needles, leaves, etc.), underneath that a plastic collector that tapers off at the bottom into a tube. Onto this "tube" end is clamped a rubber hose that runs out the bottom of the car with a little flapper on the other end to drain rainwater to the ground. I'm guessing this got dropped after the 1967 model year because the manufacturer probably didn't see fit to make all those extra components just to keep a styling feature that had no practical purpose, especially if it meant unnecessarily routing water through the trunk. But it's neat that they tried for a year.

Edited by XP715
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is my favorite generation Eldorado, I love them. There is actually one sitting in a driveway near my house....I sometimes wonder if I should just knock on the door and ask about it. :P

Do it! Or tell me where it is so I can do it!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer the '68-70 lamps in the fender edges I think; it does look more 'finished'. Wonder if the blank was in anticipation of '68, or because stamping a fender that sharply & deeply creased would've been near impossible... so the lights moved on purpose to 'fill' than blank area...

Interesting, because in the '67 print ads, the seam for the blank is airbrushed out....

Those rear qrtr vents are a puzzle to me- they aren't really even seen unless you are standing alongside the quarters... hardly noticable from the rear... they're not related to A/C, are they (did the white car have A/C?)?

For many years, Cadillac had quarter intakes in this spot for A/C cars and the Series 75s...

Look @ the ass of that white car- damn that's sexy!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Those rear qrtr vents are a puzzle to me- they aren't really even seen unless you are standing alongside the quarters... hardly noticable from the rear... they're not related to A/C, are they (did the white car have A/C?)?

For many years, Cadillac had quarter intakes in this spot for A/C cars and the Series 75s...

Look @ the ass of that white car- damn that's sexy!

No, like I said before, their appearance is purely for aesthetic purposes and includes a lot of unnecessary hardware inside the trunk. Both cars have air conditioning, as I think all of them did, but these have nothing to do with the system. But now that you mention earlier models having A/C vents in that location (the little air "scoops" on the back of a mid 50's Fleetwood limousine come to mind most readily), perhaps the design team put those there because they considered it to be a subtle Cadillac trademark. That's interesting; that thought never entered my head until now.

poo253.jpg

And you're absolutely right, that is a good looking rear (sans obnoxious exhaust tips added by the previous owner)!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I see a hint of Monte Carlos and Rivieras yet to come in that rear design.

This car was out in front in terms of styling in '67 - way out in front.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This car was out in front in terms of styling in '67 - way out in front.

You're absolutely right. And that's why it's so hard to believe that they went directly from these cars to the big fat ugly pigs of the 1970's. 1971 and 1972 Eldorados weren't that bad (a member here has a beautiful black 1971 convertible that I'd LOVE to have), but the 1973-1978 models are an incredible step down from the 1967-1970 models. And every person out there thinks they're worth their weight in gold while the 1967-1970 generation is largely overlooked.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"...perhaps the design team put those there because they considered it to be a subtle Cadillac trademark."<<

Could be. Is it merely a testament to the greatness of GM then that these functionless vents were, in fact, functional when they need'nt have been? Being 'real' is what puzzles me and makes me wonder if there was some sort of actual purpose besides aesthetics. That, and it's a very strange detail to be considered a 'trademark'- I have no doubt that if Cadillac could've gone without the earlier A/C scoops, they would have.

Not to dwell on the insignificant, but the details always pull me in & I still feel we're missing something here.....

Edited by balthazar
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You're absolutely right. And that's why it's so hard to believe that they went directly from these cars to the big fat ugly pigs of the 1970's. 1971 and 1972 Eldorados weren't that bad (a member here has a beautiful black 1971 convertible that I'd LOVE to have), but the 1973-1978 models are an incredible step down from the 1967-1970 models. And every person out there thinks they're worth their weight in gold while the 1967-1970 generation is largely overlooked.

I think that may have something to do with the availablility of a convertible in the later cars.

Oh, and more pics please.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
>>"...perhaps the design team put those there because they considered it to be a subtle Cadillac trademark."<<

Could be. Is it merely a testament to the greatness of GM then that these functionless vents were, in fact, functional when they need'nt have been? Being 'real' is what puzzles me and makes me wonder if there was some sort of actual purpose besides aesthetics. That, and it's a very strange detail to be considered a 'trademark'- I have no doubt that if Cadillac could've gone without the earlier A/C scoops, they would have.

Not to dwell on the insignificant, but the details always pull me in & I still feel we're missing something here.....

Agreed.

Rainwater control maybe?

IDK, it is an odd feature.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup... If I ever buy a post-WWII FWD car there's like a 99% chance it will be a Razorback.

Always admired them but having gotten a few rides in XP's bronze-boat & also having had

an opportunity to drive it on one occasion I can say that these cars are awesome. While

FWD they do have a longitudinally mounted motor & the chain driven 400TH is quite an

engineering feat in and of itself.

Like Balth said, you can spend hours soaking in all the compound curves, creases & sharp

edges of this design. If there's ONE post-war design that I can say makes up for the

*cough* blunder of FWD this is it.

Someway if I own a car collection of about 130 vehicles I'll have three or four FWD ones.

And a mighty gorgeous 500-powered Razorback with the '68 nose will share garage

space with a coffin nosed Cord 810 & a diesel '80 Bustleback. :D

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love those Eldorados. Amazing!

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

:wub: <-- Me being jealous. Gorgeous cars from an era when cars were cars, men were men and sheep were nervous...................

I'd be curious to know how you felt actually driving the beast, not because of its size or anything, but the differences in suspension/steering technology from 40 years ago. Those boats were 'state of the art' for '67, but that was NINETEEN SIXTY SEVEN. (I remember that year, it was the year my family moved to Vancouver.) If that car has anywhere near the mileage on it that I do, it would be well-worn, indeed.

Pardon my French, but are any of the parts from the similar age Toronado interchangeable with the Eldo?

:bowdown: <-- I bow down in your vast experience of refurbishing cars (I barely know which end of the screwdriver to hold: you do know how many gay guys it takes to put in a lightbulb, don't you? Answer: two. One to stir the martinis and the other to call the electrician!)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"...are any of the parts from the similar age Toronado interchangeable with the Eldo?"<<

Transaxle was the same (THM425), and I believe a portion of the brake/suspension was, but undoubtedly Cadillac engineered their own tuning/ dampening, valving, etc. Beyond that- nothing in the interior or on the exterior (maybe windshields) interchanged. XP- can you back me up here?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So what are the future plans for this car, XP?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0