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How I Became Cadillac and Then Came to Hate Cadillac

49 Cadillac Sedanette
This is not my Caddy, but its close to the same. Its '49 model 62, mine was a model 61.
In 1979 I bought a 1949 Cadillac "Sedanette" (Model 61). I paid $80 for the car (that's not a typo, $80). So, you can imagine the shape it was in. It was probably worth more in scrap. The interior was shot. The wiring in the engine compartment was gone, along with the generator and radiator. I had it in the garage for a couple of days before Connie knew I bought it.

I was working in Facilities Engineering at IBM at the time and my car buddies there started calling me Cadillac. Especially Wubba. It kind of stuck. I guess its one handle I didn't mind having.

Anyway, I worked on it with a very limited budget until about 1985 when I sold it for $300. I had it running, and had the front seat rebuilt so there was at least a seat to sit on. You can read all about it here. Owning this car and working on it earned me the nickname Cadillac amongst my co-workers.

I learned abou the history of Cadillac, and Henry Leyland. I came to admire the marquee.

About 1992, I was invited to go up to Northfield Park in Cleveland and test drive new Cadillacs in the parking lot. They had all models of Caddies with the new Northstar Systems in them. Those cars were very impressive. I fell in love with the STS and wanted one ever since. In 1998, when I decided I needed a new car, I was looking at used STSs but then when I found the Regal GS, I felt it was close to an STS for much less money so I bought that.

Finally, after wanting a Caddy for years, Cadillac came out with a reasonably priced car, and it had a manual transmission. I couldn't resist. I bought a Caddy to drive as a full time car, a 2003 CTS.

I really enjoyed driving the Cadillac. It was comfortable and having a 5 speed manual transmission was a lot of fun to drive. I was suprised at how often people made a comment about the car. That only happened while I had the 18 inch wheels on it though. It had a GPS navigation unit built in which I learned to really appreciate. It was really nice to be able to not have to collect maps and plan out trips. Just get in, dial in the address and drive. But I came to hate the car.

The problem was that it broke down all too often, and when it did it wasn't easy or cheap to fix. The first problem was while it was still under warranty. The real axle hub seal was leaking. I took it to the local Cadillac dealer and they ordered the part. I had to go to Detroit and they told me it would make it to Detroit and back so I went. On the way home, the air conditioner quit working. I was on I75 Southbound and there was construction going on so I was at a crawl and I was very warm. When I got back and took it in for the rear axle seal I told them to check out the AC and they wound up replacing the compressor. I think the car had about 32k miles on it.

Next came the variable steering solenoid, then the crankcase vent system, then the crankshaft position sensor, and finally the drive shaft coupler. That was the last straw and with 90k miles I traded the thing. I got $9,000 for it and was glad to get that. I had paid $21,000 only three years before.


A couple of Cadillac Songs that I really like:

I Want To Ride In Geronimo's Cadillac

Well they put Geronimo in jail down south
Where he couldn't look the gift horse in the mouth
Sergeant, sergeant, don't you fear
There's something wrong with that automobile
Governor, governor, isn't it strange
I ain't never seen on car on this indian range
Warden, warder, please listen to me
Be brave and set geronimo free
I said boys, take me back
I want to ride in Geronimo's cadillac
I said boys, take me back
I want to ride in Geronimo's cadillac
Let me ride, let me ride
White man, white man, don't you know
Those indians they had no place to go
They took old Geronimo by storm
Ripped off the feathers from his uniform
Jesus tells me I believe its true
He said the red man is in the sun set too
They stole he land, now they won't give it back
And they sent Geronimo a cadillac
I said boys, take me back
I want to ride in Geronimo's cadillac
I said boys, take me back
I want to ride in Geronimo's cadillac
Let me ride, let me ride

Check this page for info and a pic of "Geronimo's Cadillac"

Cadillac Ranch

Well, there she sits buddy justa gleaming in the sun
There to greet a working man when his day is done
I'm gonna pack my pa and I'm gonna pack my aunt
I'm gonna take them down to the Cadillac Ranch

Eldorado fins, whitewalls and skirts
Rides just like a little bit of heaven here on earth
Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back
And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Open up your engines let 'em roar
Tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur

James Dean in that Mercury '49
Junior Johnson runnin' thru the woods of Caroline
Even Burt Reynolds in that black Trans-Am
All gonna meet down at the Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Open up them engines let 'em roar
Tearing up the highway like a big old dinosaur

Hey, little girlie in the blue jeans so tight
Drivin' alone through the Wisconsin night
You're my last love baby you're my last chance
Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac, Cadillac
Long and dark, shiny and black
Pulled up to my house today
Came and took my little girl away


Copyright Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

One Piece AT A Time:

(Here it and see it on YouTube)
Well, I left Kentucky back in '49
An' went to Detroit workin' on a 'sembly line
The first year they had me puttin' wheels on cadillacs

Every day I'd watch them beauties roll by
And sometimes I'd hang my head and cry
'Cause I always wanted me one that was long and black.

One day I devised myself a plan
That should be the envy of most any man
I'd sneak it out of there in a lunchbox in my hand
Now gettin' caught meant gettin' fired
But I figured I'd have it all by the time I retired
I'd have me a car worth at least a hundred grand.

CHORUS
I'd get it one piece at a time
And it wouldn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is a round.

So the very next day when I punched in
With my big lunchbox and with help from my friends
I left that day with a lunch box full of gears
Now, I never considered myself a thief
GM wouldn't miss just one little piece
Especially if I strung it out over several years.

The first day I got me a fuel pump
And the next day I got me an engine and a trunk
Then I got me a transmission and all of the chrome
The little things I could get in my big lunchbox
Like nuts, an' bolts, and all four shocks
But the big stuff we snuck out in my buddy's mobile home.

Now, up to now my plan went all right
'Til we tried to put it all together one night
And that's when we noticed that something was definitely wrong.

The transmission was a '53
And the motor turned out to be a '73
And when we tried to put in the bolts all the holes were gone.

So we drilled it out so that it would fit
And with a little bit of help with an A-daptor kit
We had that engine runnin' just like a song
Now the headlight' was another sight
We had two on the left and one on the right
But when we pulled out the switch all three of 'em come on.

The back end looked kinda funny too
But we put it together and when we got thru
Well, that's when we noticed that we only had one tail-fin
About that time my wife walked out
And I could see in her eyes that she had her doubts
But she opened the door and said "Honey, take me for a spin."

So we drove up town just to get the tags
And I headed her right on down main drag
I could hear everybody laughin' for blocks around
But up there at the court house they didn't laugh
'Cause to type it up it took the whole staff
And when they got through the title weighed sixty pounds.

CHORUS
I got it one piece at a time
And it didn't cost me a dime
You'll know it's me when I come through your town
I'm gonna ride around in style
I'm gonna drive everybody wild
'Cause I'll have the only one there is around.

(Spoken) Ugh! Yow, RED RYDER
This is the COTTON MOUTH
In the PSYCHO-BILLY CADILLAC Come on

Huh, This is the COTTON MOUTH
And negatory on the cost of this mow-chine there RED RYDER
You might say I went right up to the factory
And picked it up, it's cheaper that way
Ugh!, what model is it?