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Projects '56 Cadillac build - Undoing the sins of my youth

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by randy, May 15, 2012.

  1. randy
    Joined: Nov 15, 2003
    Posts: 679

    randy
    Member

    [​IMG]
    Old cars will never be safe from 17 year olds. I have a Cadillac in my garage that is proof.

    It was 1997 and near the end of my Junior year, a friend of mine hit me up for a ride home. I was driving a '59 Chrysler that I'd bought months after getting my license at age 16.
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    My buddy lived in the foothills of San Jose on a street I'd only been on once or twice. We made a right onto Fleming Ave. and into his driveway. He hopped out and gave me directions to a road I'd recognize in the direction I was headed. In San Jose, you can always tell where you are if you find the foothills in the east. I made a left back on to Fleming and towards my destination. It was there that I first saw what would become my 1956 Cadillac 62 Series Coupe.

    It was perfect. Midnight Blue metallic, all the stainless trim, a perfect grill, no rust and the widest whites I had ever seen. I stopped and knocked on the door. You can imagine the rest. I snapped this photo of the car and the second owner on the day I bought it.
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    At age 17, priority number one was to make it a custom. An older friend down in Monterey knew a guy who owned a fab shop and said that we could shave the handles and the badges in an afternoon. I had never welded before, but one of the guys at the shop said he'd teach me. He suggested electroplated washers and what was probably NR-211 (flux-cored welding wire). He had me grind it down with a hard abrasive wheel affixed to a 4.5" angle grinder. I had never used a grinder before.
    [​IMG]
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    Eventually it was lowered and I had sanded down the beautiful original paint because I wanted it in primer. I thought primer was cool. We all thought primer was cool. I tried to shave the hood ornament and completely warped and sunk the hood beyond repair. I got a replacement but it was rusty. I was learning, but not fast enough for the beautiful old Caddy.
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    The motor went out at some point and I decided on a GM small block. I actually didn't 'decide', it was merely a reaction to needing a cheap running motor. I paid a friend with welding experience to do the swap and it turned out well - especially given my limited budget. I did a bunch more to the car, all while keeping it on the road.
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    At age 18 I left my folks' house and discovered that working on a car in a car port in an apartment is not easy nor is it fun. For 2-3 years the Cadillac was a daily driver/ commuter. I drove it just over 100 miles round trip 5 days a week during that time.
    [​IMG]

    At some point I got a modern Toyota truck and the old Cadillac was parked semi permanently in front of a house I was renting 6 blocks from the ocean in Monterey. It killed me to watch it's decline. Eventually I left that house for one with a garage and the Cadillac went into hibernation.

    Fast forward to this moment. I've had enough. This Cadillac needs life again and I need to undo the haste and sins of my youth.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2012
  2. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,256

    rockable
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  3. TexasSpeed
    Joined: Nov 2, 2009
    Posts: 4,618

    TexasSpeed
    Member

    Very cool story.. We all make mistakes while we're young.

    Warped metal, rookie mistakes, and even with no paint, that's still a beautiful car you have there. I'll be watching what you do to this one.
     
  4. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,443

    40StudeDude
    Member


  5. rhd
    Joined: Dec 2, 2008
    Posts: 345

    rhd
    Member
    from austin tx

    That's a cool story man, keep us updated
     
  6. welll i wanted to come on here and tell you its not as bad as you thought. sorry. i kind of want to slap you with a rubber hose...that being said. thank you for realizing your mistakes and wanting to correct them. cant wait to see how this thing goes.


    keep in mind this comes from a guy who has made plenty of mistakes.
     
  7. pwschuh
    Joined: Oct 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,376

    pwschuh
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The part about sanding off that beautiful blue paint makes me very sad. The part about you deciding to bring it back to good health makes me smile.
     
  8. That had all the twists and turns of a Hollywood movie,..was worried where it was going to end up,...glad it wasn't a picture from the sitting and rotting thread!
     
  9. randy
    Joined: Nov 15, 2003
    Posts: 679

    randy
    Member

    The car might have been in better shape had it been completely neglected these last many years. As it sits now, it is a catalog of half started, half planned, ill-fated "improvements".

    [​IMG]

    After helping a few friends with air-bagged, 4-link suspension builds, I decided to air-bag the rear of the '56. I cut out the floor behind the rear seat and made up frame notches in the shop. I also cut out the tunnel and tacked in a new raised one. Then I stopped.

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    Around 2000 I decided the fins had to come off. I cut them off, made a frame out of brake lines and crudely patched it all back together using little strips of 18 AND 16 gauge sheet metal. I tacked it all, and skimmed it with bondo. I actually still like the modification, just not the way I did it. I made taillights out of red plexiglass after reading about the process for the first time on the HAMB. I still like them.

    [​IMG]


    About two years ago I decided to redo the fins the correct way. I shaped one and tacked it in. Then I stopped.

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    I had always wanted to put a dual master cylinder in the Cadillac, but never could take it off the road for long enough. It's not a simple firewall mount due to the stock, crazy air vent system which I would like to keep. I removed the stock M/C. Then I stopped.

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    I did the wiring back in '99 or so using an ez-wire kit. I must have done a decent job because the car never burned and all the essentials worked. (surprisingly!) It wasn't pretty though! I decided to rewire it. I removed the dash and some of the wiring. Then I stopped.

    [​IMG]

    And this is all that was left...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. TexasSpeed
    Joined: Nov 2, 2009
    Posts: 4,618

    TexasSpeed
    Member

    I actually like the fin-less look.. Never seen that done before. It actually elongates the car as whole in a good way. Interesting modification.
     
  11. 1950-mercury
    Joined: Mar 20, 2011
    Posts: 534

    1950-mercury
    Member

    Love those 56 caddys!!!
     
  12. jakdupkustoms
    Joined: Jan 17, 2006
    Posts: 227

    jakdupkustoms
    Member

    Im actually starting to redo a 56 caddy myself. Looking forward to seeing what you do. you got a better start than me.
     
  13. kzeliminator
    Joined: Nov 23, 2010
    Posts: 117

    kzeliminator
    Member
    from chicago

    I miss my 56 so much.....ship this one to me.....Ill save it
     
  14. kzeliminator
    Joined: Nov 23, 2010
    Posts: 117

    kzeliminator
    Member
    from chicago

    just playing around.....its a great start, good luck dude
     
  15. monkeyspunk79
    Joined: Jan 2, 2011
    Posts: 553

    monkeyspunk79
    Member

    Continue with the build and keep posting up pics. I love seeing stories of folks that didn't puss out like me and sell their old cool shit when they were in their 20's. Good luck with the rebuild and do her proud. She's mostly there already...and it looks like it won't take you much to get it back together.
     
  16. Model T1
    Joined: May 11, 2012
    Posts: 3,309

    Model T1
    Member

    Hey, back years ago they were just old cars. If we didn't experiment we weren't car guys. At least you kept it and now you are well on your way to building a real custom. You should see all the junk I have that I started, stopped, and sometimes never started again.
    No one said a hotrodder or customizer had to actually drive his hotrod!
     
  17. jeepers00creepers
    Joined: Jun 1, 2011
    Posts: 139

    jeepers00creepers
    Member

    I've got to ask what you paid for it back then? That thing looked sweet and I'm sure you'll do her right!
     
  18. carmak
    Joined: Aug 8, 2005
    Posts: 451

    carmak
    Member

    Nice Caddy! The Steering wheel looks like a 57-58

    Carmak
    Riverside, Iowa
     

    Attached Files:

  19. randy
    Joined: Nov 15, 2003
    Posts: 679

    randy
    Member

    Waaaay back in '97 I paid $2500.00 bucks for it. It was a ton for me back then, but I was working 40+ hours a week as a valet at a Hotel in addition to attending H.S. The only thing I had to spend money on was cars.

    I'm glad I didn't sell it. I tried a couple times and friends talked me out of it. Really, the idea of offing it bothered me because I felt that it had very little chance of being as nice as the day I took ownership. Believe it or not, everything I did was with the intention of making it "nicer" or more reliable. Crazy to me now - I'd never start with so nice a car unless I wanted to fully restore it.

    Anyway, live and learn. I've been a full-time fabricator for about 10 years so I feel that I finally have enough skills and the focus to complete what I started so many years ago. I've also had my hand in so many cars that I've done much of what is necessary more than a few times.

    Thanks for the interest.
     
  20. Smokey2
    Joined: Jan 11, 2011
    Posts: 919

    Smokey2
    Member

    I havta' Agree with "Model T " (i'm a Poet, an did'nt know IT !}

    I've bought '57 Chevies off "the Back Row" for $150.00
    I bought a '34 Lincoln Roadster from a fellow in Pa., He paid $500.00 fer it in 1955 !
    (noboby wanted IT !)
    Bought 1957 Chevy Conv. (1981) for $550.00,, and Watched behind me All The Way Home, thinkin' someone was gonna' run me down, an Say NO DEAL BUDDY !
    My 1st '34 Ford Phaeton (basket Case) was $2000. ) Yeay After I sold it, IT WAS Nat'l
    AACA Winner.
    Yeah, They were Just "OLD CARS", But lot'sa FUN, FUN, FUN !

    Smokey
     
  21. randy
    Joined: Nov 15, 2003
    Posts: 679

    randy
    Member

    For starters, I wanted the motor out so I could clean everything and paint the firewall body color. I'm having the motor gone through while it's out of the car.
    [​IMG]

    I sized up a new radiator I bought from Summit. Looks like it'll fit(sorry 'bout the pic quality...)

    [​IMG]

    I tacked together a bracket to hold the new dual m/c. I had to get it tacked before I remove the front clip so I know I'll have adequate clearance by the inner fenders...

    [​IMG]

    Got the front clip off and scrubbed the bejesus out of the frame and suspension. I rebuilt the suspension probably less than 5,000 miles ago, so I'm just going to degrease, repaint and run it as is.

    [​IMG]

    Stripped a few parts off the firewall and gave it a little scuffing. A few holes need filling and some dents need attention.

    [​IMG]

    Pretty happy with progress so far.
     
  22. hey man .. i really dig you honesty and new motivation to work on car .. i dig this thread and the back ground your giving . hey but why while reading the thread the song came in to my head .. " i was gonna finish this part but then i got high " was i the only one ???
     
  23. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,586

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Fan-fucking-tastic.
     
  24. jfg455
    Joined: Apr 22, 2011
    Posts: 171

    jfg455
    Member
    from NH

    I'm in. Go man Go!:D
     
  25. randy
    Joined: Nov 15, 2003
    Posts: 679

    randy
    Member

    Yeah, the quote should read, "I was gonna finish this part but then I went skateboarding." It's an addiction more fierce than any substance I've met.

    I promised myself this time around I would finish each little job and not just walk out right in the middle of it to go skate. The problem: Cars happen on free time. Skateboarding happens on free time. There is room for both but sometimes it seems there isn't enough time for either.

    Just talked to the motor guys and it should be ready at the end of next week!

    Spending tomorrow getting the firewall body worked and prepped for primer, sealer then paint. Gonna wait to get the motor back before I finish the frame and paint it. I'm SICK of electric fuel pump noise in neato old cars so I'm modifying my frame to accommodate a mechanical one...BUT I need the motor back to do that accurately.

    Picked a color for the car - '65 Cad color..."Cascade green metallic". It has a light greenish silver appearance. Here's a poorly lighted pic to confuse everyone.
    [​IMG]
     
  26. jakdupkustoms
    Joined: Jan 17, 2006
    Posts: 227

    jakdupkustoms
    Member

    I subscribe. Get with it man. Nice Color. I will start a build thread. On my 56 as soon as I get a lil further. Looking forward to seeing yours come to life.
     
  27. 60widewhitez
    Joined: Apr 4, 2006
    Posts: 421

    60widewhitez
    Member

    56 caddy's are the s%^t!
     
  28. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,554

    zman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Garner, NC

    I have never understood this. I'm really glad you are setting this straight. It's real good to see this kind of stuff happen.
     
  29. a bloke
    Joined: Jul 6, 2007
    Posts: 230

    a bloke
    Member

    Good on you for showing us, I am guilty of similar crimes.
    Keep at it and keep reading the HAMB for inspiration.
     
  30. Bigcheese327
    Joined: Sep 16, 2001
    Posts: 6,691

    Bigcheese327
    Member

    Glad to see you saving it from yourself. A real sign of maturity - and you're going to have a very strong bond with this car due to your shared history. Good luck!
     

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