ICON. Few cars ever achieve this status, however the '59 Cadillac is just that. The pinnacle of the finned car era, with the largest fins ever on an American production car and distinctive bullet shaped taillights, the '59 Cadillac clearly set it apart from all others.
NSMC member Stephen Hurlburt had always dreamed of owning one of these legendary cars, just like the one his father owned and loved. Stephen recalls telling his stepson Andy of his father's car, and how he'd always desired to own one just like it. Andy quickly located one for sale on the Internet, and within the week a bright metallic purple '59 Cadillac Sedan deVille 4-door "Flat Top" found its way to Stephen's garage.
As his first foray in the automotive hobby, Stephen planned to tour the country in his car when completed. He wanted all the performance and safety features of a new car, while maintaining much of the '59s distinctive flavor. He quickly dubbed the project "Caditour," and knew in order to build the car to the level of excellence desired, he'd need some expert assistance. Stephen wisely enlisted Ken Bell's services at Classics Plus in Shakopee, Minnesota.
After disassembling the '59 and removing many years of amateur paint and body work, it was clear the body was simply too far gone for this project. Stephen located yet another '59 "Flat Top" and the effort began once again. As fate would have it, after disassembly, the second body was no better than the first. Finally, he located and purchased a clean-bodied car, and the project could finally move forward.
Building a solid foundation with modern Air-Ride components for the Caddy was made possible by having a special one-off chassis built by Art Morrison Enterprises. A Strange Engineering Ford 9-inch rear axle (with 3.70:1 gears and Positraction) was teamed with a Mustang II front suspension and Wilwood discs on all corners. In keeping with the classic looks of this ride, a set of 15-inch Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels were matched up with 235/60-15 front and 255/60-15 rear Goodyear tires.
Motivation for the Cadillac is a fully polished, fuel injected, 502 cubic inch, 534 horsepower Street & Performance big-block Chevrolet engine with distinctive personalized "Caditour" valve covers. Pushing all that power to the rear is a GM 4L60 automatic transmission. The Caddy's distinctive sound is obtained through a pair of Street & Performance "shorty" headers and twin Flowmaster dual-chamber mufflers.
With the chassis and driveline in place, work progressed rapidly on the Cadillac's body. Stephen wanted to keep much of the car's original appearance, limiting the body modifications to shaving the door handles and lock cylinders while adding a tastefully executed hood bulge.
Just as the bodywork was nearing completion at Classics Plus, a faulty air conditioner caught fire one evening, destroying much of the shop. The car itself escaped with little damage, but many of the stored parts needed to complete the project were lost in the fire. Once again, Stephen found himself looking for a fourth car to finish the Caddy. A friend told him of a '59 Caddy resting behind a barn in northern Minnesota. Stephen went to see the car and it had all the necessary goodies. It took two more visits to convince the car's owner to part with it, but once again the "Caditour" project was back on track.
With the shop repaired, and all the parts needed to finish the car, the bodywork was finally completed. Several coats of House of Kolor Blood Red paint were laid down over a white basecoat, and the Caddy's laser straight body began to really shine.
The "Caditour" project was accomplished with a beautifully crafted red and white leather interior, stitched up by Bill Spears and Son. The remaining interior touches include Dakota Digital instrumentation, an Ididit steering column, and a Grant "Banjo" steering wheel.
Using parts from the fleet of four cars Stephen had purchased to build this dream machine, he then set out to build a matching trailer. Grafting front and rear '59 Caddy clips created a unique trailer body. To perfectly match the car, the trailer has its own independent Air-Ride suspension system, identical wheels, matching paint, and even the same upholstery.
If you see this Caddy cruising down the Interstate, you'll know Stephen's behind the wheel sharing in his father's passion for these classic cruisers. Should you choose to pass him, make sure there's plenty of clear road ahead. At 38 feet of overall car-and-trailer length, and with the healthy big-block 502 under the bulging bright red hood, you're going to need it!
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