About This 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Posted: 25 Nov 2003
King of The Fin: 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville !
Tailfins have their place in history as the most notorious automotive styling trend of all time. Started by Cadillac in the late Forties, fins were adapted by nearly all domestic and even numerous foreign manufacturers, including Mercedes Benz. But the fin craze wasn't confined to the automotive world. Look at a Chris Craft boat catalog of that era and you'll see that it transcended even the wheeled wonders of the day.
Although the title for the tallest tailfin goes to the 1961 Imperial, fins made their boldest statement ever as the rear protuberances of the 1959 Cadillac. The factory brochure states that 'The appearance of a new Cadillac car is always awaited with eager anticipation by the world's motorists.' Upon introduction of the winged wonder of '59, most enthusiasts must have gasped in pure astonishment at the most opulently finned car ever produced!
The '59 Coupe de Ville presented for auction here, VIN *59J091088*, has led an interesting life. Its late owner started a frame-up restoration in 1989. Initially, the work progressed swiftly and with amazing professionalism. Two years into the project, however, the owner's declining health slowed down the restoration effort until it came to a complete standstill.
Since then, the car was sitting on blocks inside a dry garage in San Leandro waiting to be completed. It didn't happen.
A California car since new, the Caddy still carries its original black-and-yellow license plates. Once lost, they are irreplaceable: that's why they're rightfully valued as indicators of a true California car. As a California resident, I would not even consider buying a keeper without black plates!
Engine compartment reflects the direction this restoration was to have taken if fate had not intervened. The 390 cu.in. V8 is fully rebuilt and purrs like a kitten. Engine accessories and brackets have been refurbished to show standard and sparkle midnight black. (Air cleaner is missing.) Power-assisted brakes have been rebuilt all around, too, just the master cylinder might need another kit installed. Emergency brake works fine.
Engine compartment looks super clean. Underside of hood, inner fenders, and various engine components have been finished to 'Pebble Beach' standard. Incredible!
21,924 examples of the Coupe de Ville were manufactured in '59; how many have survived like this?
A whopping 225 inches long, the body looks nice and straight. There are some of the typical bubbles on the lower body, other than that, we have not been able to find any rust on this car.
Pimento Red paint still appears very glossy. It has been color sanded and hand polished to a high luster. There are a few minor chips and scratches in isolated places, most likely storage related. However, the positive first appearance prevails even upon closer inspection: this is one fine looking car!
More important than a shiny exterior is what lies beneath. Floors are extremely dry and solid, as you would expect from a California Cadillac. Luckily, despite its advanced age of forty-four years, not an ounce of undercoating has been applied. This Caddy has nothing to hide!
Nice shoes are important--even for beauty pageant contestants--which is why this Caddy walks on like-new REMINGTON L78-15 Cushion-Aire rubber soles with wide whitewall sides. Cool!
Check out the nicely preserved factory sombrero hubcaps!
The interior is where most attention is needed. The perfectly rust free floor has been painted gray and is ready to accept a new carpet set right away.
The front seats need to be re-upholstered and the front door panels needs to be refurbished. Additional parts are in the trunk, but you might have to buy a few things here and there, like new door sill plates and a new outside rear view mirror.
What you see is what you get!
The dash top has been recovered with red vinyl. Metal on dash needs to be painted to match the interior color, some tidbits still have to be mounted. Again, a few parts may be missing, and you definitely need to work on the electrical system to get everything hooked up properly.
On the plus side, you might be pleased to learn that this Coupe de Ville is unusually loaded with options that were extra-cost items in 1959, even on a Cadillac!
Power vent windows,
Power door locks,
Signal-seeking radio with power antenna,
Rear seats and rear side panels have been newly covered.
White vinyl headliner is new as well. There are a few screws missing on the anodized trim and the interior lights (in the trunk) need to be mounted.
A rewarding project, but a project nonetheless. It definitely will help if you (or your mechanic) restored an old American car before, or have owned a similar '59.
Coupe de Ville is equipped with a dual exhaust system. And lots of chrome . . .
Trunk is dry and rust free, never had any rust. It has received a coat of gray paint, just like the floor.
A multitude of mostly interior items still need to be mounted. Everything has been cleaned and is ready for the next step, be it painting, assembling, or installing.
On Saturday, November 22, we drove the Caddy around town to take all of these photos; due to the low brakes, we took it easy. Be assured, the car runs fine, absolutely straight, and confidence inspiring. The engine whispers but is strong and powerful, and the Hydramatic auto trans, power steering, and power brakes help to make cruising effortless.
Hence, you'll be able to drive the Caddy 'as is' locally, but a cross country trip is not yet advised.
Here it is, a golden opportunity to acquire a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville without having to spend a small fortune. It's an original black plate California car that looks simply stunning. All it needs is some elbow grease and the caring touch of an enthusiastic owner who is willing to spend some time in the garage to finish the job. Who knows, you could be whistlin' 'She's so fine, my fifty-nine!' very soon . . .
Specs & Details
Interior Color: red / white
Miles Driven: 34,794
Sold For: $13,100
Laguna Beach, California, U.S.A.Portfolio
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