Über Splurge

Well, it’s here. Today is my 30th birthday. As I pondered which of the many wonderful things I’ve found over my past three decades of collecting that I would share with you today, I decided it would need to be something very special to me—and something very big. And big it is. Weighing in at nearly 4,700 lbs and measuring an impressive 224 inches in length, I present to you my 1967 Cadillac Sedan deVille.

From the time I was old enough to know what a car even was, I was obsessed with vintage ones. Most of my Hotwheels were vintage models, my shelves were lined with 1:18 scale models of Detroit’s finest and my walls were plastered with pictures of chrome grilles and tail fins. I’m by no means alone in my passion, but while many go for the lean muscle cars and convertibles, I’ve always had a thing for buxom beauties—Cadillacs. Long, luxurious and powerful. It really just doesn’t get any better in my opinion. As much as I had always wanted one, I had dismissed the notion of actually owning one as something one does during retirement. That is until I came face to face with one in the parking lot at work.

Longer than most full size trucks and wider than a Sherman tank, it was hard not to notice it in the parking lot. I walked up to it, paced around it, peered in the windows and muttered “lucky so and so,” under my breath as I walked away. Over the course of the summer it would appear in the lot a few times on the nicest days and every time I’d ogle it unabashedly from the sidewalk. Then one day I noticed a vintage Mercedes in the parking lot with a For Sale sign in the window with a phone number. On a whim, I wrote down the number and typed it into Craigslist. Knowing it was a long shot that it would be the same owner or that both would be for sale, I hit “search.” It was the same owner and the Cadillac was for sale.

As often happens when I run across something ridiculous to buy, I had to run a lot of scenarios in my head before making the call. Was this something I could really do? It’s frivolous. It’s impractical. It almost certainly won’t fit in my garage. It’s so beautiful. The call was made. As it turned out, the owner had actually received an offer from someone in Kansas City and would be driving it down to its new owner in two days, so if I wanted to check it out I had to decide the very next day or it would be gone. Nothing like making a major decision under extreme pressure. I took it for a spin the next day. I just fell in love. It was like riding around town in a yacht. An offer was made, a cashier’s check was drawn up and the great white whale would be coming home with me. I remember very clearly driving it home. I was so happy. Happy like I had never been before. Everything felt so right and the tears began rolling down my face. True love, man and his machine. To this day it’s the only time I’ve ever cried from sheer joy.

This particular Sedan deVille is the non-hardtop model (meaning it has side pillars between the front and rear door windows where the vinyl-clad hardtop does not), of which 8,800 were built. Painted in stunning Grecian White with leather-trimmed aqua duchess cloth seats, equipped with power windows, air conditioning, power seats and tilt and telescoping steering, it originally sold for $5,625. The Caddy is powered by a hulking 429 cubic inch 7 liter V8 engine capable of 340 horsepower. All in all it’s a graceful beast. The interior is beautiful, in amazing condition and HUGE. This thing easily seats eight people with room for three more in the cavernous trunk. But my favorite part is the horn. Actually the car is equipped with three of them sounding somewhat reminiscent of an ocean liner’s horn—it lets everyone one the road know you mean business.

But love stories wouldn’t be stories if there weren’t some twists and turns. Vintage cars are a labor of love and can be work and worry to own, not to mention expensive. Initially I hoped the car could be parked in my garage, but at nearly 19 feet long and 80 inches wide, it was almost too tight of fit to exit the vehicle. Old cars also lack the strict emissions features of newer ones, leaving a gassy, carbon-laden odor in my airtight garage. So, it must now live in rented storage. I’m also not mechanically inclined. While I was able to do smaller repairs such as replacing the power antenna and swapping out the AM radio for an original equipment AM-FM model, getting the heat to work was a VERY expensive job for the professionals. The air conditioner also doesn’t work and I can’t imagine it will cost much less. It’s tough to find a good shop you can trust so be sure to get references and do your homework. The good news is that insurance for a classic car is dirt cheap at about $100 per year for full replacement coverage.

In the end it has been a learning process. I’ve owned the car for over three years and still love every moment spent behind its wheel. We can’t always spoil ourselves, but sometimes it’s not such a bad idea. I could have waited 40 years as I had originally planned and hoped it all worked out, but then that’s nearly half a lifetime of joy I would have missed.

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