Collector finds mint Cadillacs in old B.C. garage
A lot of what happens in life depends on a combination of good luck and being in the right place at the right time. So it goes with the hunt of for classic cars. For me, it seems every year the moon and stars line up perfectly and the car gods agree that it’s my turn. So it came to pass this summer with a 1955 Cadillac convertible. A mechanic friend was told about an old Cadillac convertible he heard about that was stored in a North Vancouver garage for 20 years.
After burning up the phone lines, I located the daughter of the owner of the car – a woman I’ll just refer to as Patti. She said her father had left the car in her garage years before and moved to Vancouver Island. It was in her way and she needed the space. A site visit was arranged and what I saw in that garage knocked my socks off: Not one great Caddie, but two. The red 1955 Cadillac convertible was alongside a pale green and white 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.
Patti explained that her father had bought the cars in the U.S. in the 1980s and stored them in her garage. But what was supposed to be temporary stretched out over two decades and the cars never moved. Telephone contact was made with Patti’s father, negotiations concluded with a meeting arranged to exchange money for title.
But the big challenge was getting the huge red convertible out of the jammed garage which led out to a sharp turn in Patti’s backyard and then up a hill between trees that had grown quite large and fat over the years.
Bring in Rick the tow truck driver. He backed down the hill on the grass putting the truck’s rear end perpendicular to the Caddie’s rear end. Rick then hooked his cable through the sling lift so the cable was on a 90 degree angle to his truck. Once attached to the Caddie, Rick skillfully extracted the car straight out of the garage. He then lifted the car and dragged it up the hill.
The Caddie had been restored with new red paint and new leather upholstery before being stored. It was covered in dust and needed a good cleanup. Within a half hour of being brought to my shop, a new battery had been installed, points filed, fresh gas added and the Caddie was purring like a kitten with all the power options going up and down including the top.
And so it was the year previous. I had never seen a 1958 Oldsmobile 98 convertible before the occasion that I went to Vancouver Island to pick up a 1966 Thunderbird that I had purchased during a very weak moment. The car was in a mobile home park outside Nanaimo. As I was driving down between the mobile homes, I looked into a garage and spotted what I knew to be the front fender of a 1950s GM car. A closer look revealed that it was an ultra rare 1958 Olds 98 convertible sitting in there with the top down all covered in dust.
The owner explained he had purchased his ‘dream car’ in Idaho and restored the car in Medicine Hat, Alberta before moving to Nanaimo, he brought the car with him. But he had injured himself falling off a roof and the car remained unused. I started visiting him regularly during business trips to Vancouver Island and eventually reached an agreement to purchase the huge convertible.
The old car hobby runs largely on emotion. We have connections to the cars we loved when we were young. Growing up during that era when those cars were new, I was the first in the showrooms to see what the car designers had come up with for the new model year. What a privilege it is to now own some of those very special convertibles that were the dreamboats of yesteryear. And there is always the dream about what could be coming next.
Alyn Edwards is a classic car enthusiast and partner in Peak Communicators – a Vancouver public relations agency.
Photograph by: Alyn Edwards