Friday, September 19, 2014

You think you have a hard time parking in NYC?

I couldn't believe my eyes. There before me, stretching out into the horizon, was the Elephant Man in a tattered tuxedo. How? Why? Who knows exactly, but what I can say is that this is a 1964 Cadillac Series 75 Limousine parked on a busy street in Kensington, Brooklyn. Really!
I was riding my now-stolen bike (which you can see laying on the sidewalk next to this beast - RIP) down a busy and relatively harrowing street when I came upon this vision. I knew immediately what I was looking at, but it didn't register somehow. It didn't make sense that there would be a 22 foot long car parallel parked where Hondas were having difficulty finding spots. I rode up on the sidewalk and jumped off to really take it all in.
What a fall from grace! What was once the top of the domestic automotive heap has obviously had a difficult life. This is the Chet Baker of automobiles; talented genius with Hollywood looks turned addled junkie via decades of self-abuse and several failed marriages. At one point though a president, king, or prime minister wouldn't think twice about getting in to this behemoth (as long as somebody opened the door for them). For now it sits alone with its disconcerting 1,000 yard stare.
If you squint just right you can still make out the classy lines of this Caddy. Sure the enormous bumper is hanging on for dear life, the top half of the grill is missing, and the paint looks like that powdery black licorice Necco Wafer that nobody wanted, but the determination remains.
Arrr matey! A 3-eyed lunatic with an underbite walks up to you and what do you say?
The dual horns visible behind the grill produced a deep foghorn sound; more tuba than trumpet. Upon close inspection the car's not only missing a headlight, but the chrome surrounds as well. Still, from this angle the body is remarkably straight.
With no hubcap, the chrome bumper extension that ought to fill the space between the wheel and the grill missing, and a finish this finished, this beast looks truly worn out. The wrap-around windshield, however, remains majestic in its scope. It's interesting to point out that the windshield on all other Caddys this year had already gone to a more modern non wrap-around design. For whatever reason the limo kept the same glass treatment.
The Series 75 consisted of the factory-built Cadillac limousines from 1936 through 1987, and they were always built in small numbers. For instance, they only produced 808 of these in total for 1964. This doesn't include any possible commercial conversions done on the same size chassis. However, most ambulances and hearses were based on the non-limo Series 60 Fleetwood which was plenty big. One Lincoln Continental hubcap found its way to the party.
The wipers are missing from this beast, but the intricate mesh ventilation tray is there beneath the glass. I took this shot to try and highlight the spiderweb crack radiating out on the passenger side of the windshield but the lighting and tree shadows make it tough to see. A replacement windshield (one of the largest ever produced) is not going to come cheap for this ride! There's currently a non wrap-around windshield for a '65 on ebay for $1,100, and this one is larger and harder to ship. 

Oh man what a terrible mirror to have on that door! We can be pretty sure that the door is a replacement due to the slightly different finish and lack of chrome above the window. No door handle for the rear door though!
Who knows why the roof was painted in this magenta hue? Perhaps it's a primer? If this car was built with a vinyl roof it very well could've rusted underneath which would necessitate some sanding and priming.
That trunk looks like it might've come from the same donor car as the drivers door. Top of the taillight on the drivers side seems to be missing, but whatever. Of course we have the international symbol of a non-registered car parked on the streets of NYC: the single out of state plate in the back! It's just thrown in the window too, they didn't even have the decency to place it in the correct location, choosing instead to leave the gas cap exposed like a begging bird waiting to be fed.
This would have come from the factory with the 429 V8, good for 330 horsepower stock. This was plenty of motor to get up and go even in such a huge ride. with the amount of sound insulation and muffling this had it would do it almost silently too.
Too bad the small triangular lenses on the fins are missing, but with tape on each side maybe they've just been removed for now? Those clear lower lenses are brake lights; the bulbs were red instead of the lenses.
Those two white squares at the corners of the roofline are puzzling. Those spots are the locations of the air intake for the rear air-conditioner unit. They basically looked like those metal periscope-looking vents on the decks of old ships. Since they've been removed and covered with tape I'm beginning to think this is getting prepped for paint!

Again with the door handles! More paint preparation I'm sure.
It looked like the inside was piled up with garbage. Upon further inspection it seems to be filled with all the parts missing from the outside. Now I'm convinced that this is someones restoration project parked on the street.
The driver is greeted by a very clean and trim steering wheel. Cadillac did away with the chrome horn ring in the late '50s and stuck with this sort of delicate look. That seat must have been redone at one point, which for a chauffeur-driven car is not always the case.
This is why I say chauffeur-driven; a divider window is still lurking in the down position behind the front seat! Even though this was the factory built model it is a true limousine. Good thing it's here too because finding a replacement piece of glass for the divider would mean getting one made to order.

One more side angle of this majestic storm cloud of a ride. This thing must weigh somewhere in the 3 ton range, and to its credit it's standing upright and not sagging to any one side. At the very least the shocks have all been replaced, and I wouldn't be surprised if the springs were swapped out as well. With the terrible finish but straight body & beautiful roof, parts stripped off and hiding in the back, and normally fragile details such as the front seat being new I'm sure this beast is part of the way through a restoration. When all is said and done they will have one of the most impressive vehicles in the city, which is saying a lot! Imagine pulling up to any restaurant or venue in this thing once it's done in glossy black with the chrome shiny. Definitely the type of car the boss instructs the valets to
leave parked directly in front.
And if it's not being restored? Well this just about sums it up.

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