Matt Garrett - Dallas Texas


Why old Cadillacs?

If you knew me years ago, all you would see me in were Corvettes, Trans Ams, old Hot Rods, etc.   Most gear heads would ask "why the heck is this guy messing with these old Cadillacs?   I'll tell you why and I will use my second favorite car, the Corvette as an example;

Tomorrow's Corvette will be WAY better than the best one right now.  That you can count on.  It will be faster, it will handle better, it will have more body integrity and it will be better even if its powered by hybrid/batteries.  That is what technology does.  This is true for any car that its entire merit is largely based on the numbers it turns on a dyno, the numbers it does 0-60, the numbers it does around a track, etc.   If you buy the latest and greatest car, tomorrow will make a fool of you an reduce your investment drastically.  It always does!  Why play that game???   That is not collecting or investing in cars, its wasting money if you consider yourself in the car hobby.   If you just want a new car and don't care, hey no problem at all, but do not ever think that car will be an investment in your lifetime.  The cards are so stacked against you its not funny. 

Then it goes the other way.  I run into guys all the time that want to talk about how fast their 67 435 corvette is and how much its worth.  These cars have seemed to have capped out for many reasons.  The three I give them are performance, or lack there of,  substance, or lack there of, and tolerance level.  They are really hard to tolerate!   Obviously guys talking about how fast these old cars are have not driven competitively enough to realize that a 90s Cadillac with a Northstar would make a fool of it, let alone a ZR1 of any year, ZO6 or whatever.  People base the price and value on these cars not necessarily for their rareness, but for their performance, or in this case, historic performance.   The awakening has put lots of reality into those that have tried to relive their youths through old performance cars.  You just forgot what they were like, and when you get them, you don't like them!  You will not have the fastest thing on the road with these old cars,  in fact your current daily driver may even be faster and you just don't know it,  so why put up with all the grief that goes along with it.... A Cadillac offers so much more and best of all, you can tolerate it! 

We talked about the holy grail 60s corvette, lets compare a the Cadillac now;  Take a 53-66 Eldorado.  Their production in the highest year is 1000s less than the mentioned "holy grail" Corvette and the highest year was about 2000 total.   Oh, and take a 1966 Eldorado with its factory 10:1 429 engine, variable pitch TH400 and run it against that Corvette.  Yes that holy grail corvette will be faster.... But not much considering the major downsides to the Corvette.. poor idle, clunky transmissions, poor body structure, heat coming through the floor, gears so steep that 18 wheelers fly past you on the highway as you are turning 3000 RPMs at 55MPH, and more.   The Cadillac will do just about everything better and do it with darn near perfect toleration, comfort, control and enjoyment.  In fact when compared, those Eldorados would outrun the average optioned muscle car and certainly base corvettes.  It was a Cadillac!   It cost 2X+ more new for a reason!  If you raced back in the 70s you would know what those old Cadillacs would do when you ran into those few people that would actually show you.  They were the top Mark and they had, for their day, competitive performance with all the good stuff too!

So I have talked about the fact that lots of old Cadillacs are actually more rare than cars considered to be out of reach top examples like Big Block Corvettes.  Muscle car #s are even worse when compared to Cadillacs.  I love one ad I read;  "Rare 1967 GTO, One of 65,176 built"   Its just funny when you lay the production numbers out side by side to what people think is rare to what really is rare.  Beyond performance, substance and low production #s , what really gives the Cadillac the edge in collectors eyes is the fact;

THEY WILL NEVER BUILD ANOTHER AGAIN LIKE THEY USED TO!.. and that goes all the way up to 1996 for the big cars.

They will build a better Corvette that is very loosely based on the ones built in the 60s.  They will build another muscle car that will outrun the best of the best in the 60s-70s and the new retro one new one you bought last week. They will build some really neat new Cadillacs too and they do, but they will not build an expensive chrome trim, large platform, 19 ft long, big block engine, full framed, RWD, classic styled Cadillac ever again.  This includes even if they want to loosely base it on some classic Cadillacs as a retro car.  Manufacturers just cant do it within the specs they have to work with today!  This also goes for Buicks, Ponitacs, Oldsmobiles, Fords, Lincolns, Chryslers, that are true substance cars of their top models.  Those days are gone, in fact the body on frame cars are just about to die out with the last of the Grand Marquis/Crown Vic/Town Car (the current best US car made).  It will be a unibody world and everything built has to work in the limits of what the manufactures have cut their production costs too, and a lot of it is for added safety reasons too.  Not a bad thing there, but it limits what you love about these old cars and insures that the duplication of these large cars will be impossible.  Yes these new cars will be better, but their styles will be nothing like some of these old Cadillacs.   Its an era that will not be seen again and that is the main reason you will see these cars as some of the top collectors.  They represent the top mark on something that will never come again!  You cannot buy a brand new better one if you wanted to!

The previous mentioned factor on substance goes even deeper.  If you know how a car is built, what lies under the hood, what lies under the body, how the frame is laid out/made and what is built into the car, Cadillac provides so much substance vs lets say a 69 Ram Air IV GTO.  A mega rare car that has a total production of 759.  Keep in mind that 759 # is just an engine option there, not the whole car.  With an 53-66 Eldorado, we are talking the whole car, not breaking it down to colors, options, etc.  So even if we considered a 69 Ram Air IV GTO its own car vs just an option in a few of the 72,287 built for the 69 year alone. 759 cars with that specific motor is not a far number off many years of early (total cars all together) Eldorado Productions.  In a poll of many collectors, the GTO would be considered a more "worthy" collector to the average Joe vs many truly rare Cadillacs.  With that GTO, you have to put up with a car with no air, possibly no heater, no radio, nothing.  The car is so simplistic and lacking so much substance, why is it worth anything?   Should less be worth more?  Am I missing something here?  You could frame off restore one of those cars in 1/32 of the time it would take to do an Eldorado.  You would have to frame off one as a true original does not exist in reality with any integrity.  Many Cadillacs do!    Then after you restore your dream car, you have to put up with the fact that NOTHING will be truly original.  You can kid yourself that is original, but its not.  The GTO was "quick" in its day, but today its not even a contender anywhere.  So why even put up the lack of substance when you can have a car like a Cadillac that actually has TONS of substance, will hold itself well in traffic today and more.  Many examples of nice old Cadillacs you see are truly original cars, not the "accepted" muscle car definition of original.

Now consider this in some of the basic performance aspect that 60s muscle cars were supposed to have and Cadillacs were just thought not to have at all.  We all know drum brakes were bad.  But were they?  Back on 64-67 GTOs and mid sized cars like that, they were horrific.  In fact they were simply unsafe not because they were drums, but more because they were undersized.  Now those large drums on old Cadillacs of the 50s-60s actually are not bad even today! Sure fooled me when I got to know them.  Their point were they would fade was a whole lot better than the mid sized GM drums.  Cadillac gave you more, and more of it worked better than what people called "performance" cars of the same era.   Cadillac had the largest motors, dual quads, tri-power in the 50s-60s, and the most power for many years with engines that would last long term making the same power as other makes that did not last near as long.   Then lets talk about options.  Actually, I am not even going to go there as I could go on all day.  Cadillac had it all hands down there.

For a lot of these reasons, the guys that always called Cadillacs "boats, old man cars", etc will see examples like the rare 50-60 and 70s and the last full frame 84-85 Eldorados convertibles continue to accelerate in value.  Their low production numbers and the fact you will never see a car like those built again will insure it.   They will be the top echelon of the "Big Cars".  Other marks will do well too in similar styled convertibles and rare optioned 4 doors too.   Now frankly, I am just scared about the investment I have in my modest Corvette collection.   I am not ever giving up on them as I love Corvettes, but I think those days of buying a Corvette and having it appreciate over time might just be done.  Again, this is for the simple fact tomorrow's Corvettes will always make the old ones look ridiculous in performance.  Mustangs are the same, so many cars are the same.  Can't say that on the big cars as there are none made anymore to do that to you!   You are safe from that endless game you will never come out of top with!

Some of the above examples I am talking about above are comparing the most rare with the most rare.  This is not really fair as many of the other models are totally worthy of collecting too that are not as rare.  The same still applies when you are looking at one of these Cadillacs vs a car like an older base Corvette, Gto or whatever.  Series 62s, Deville Convertibles, Eldorado Sevilles, Eldorado Coupes and more.  Every car has a price point but when compared to other type cars, fact is you are probably going to get a better, more honest and certainly more well rounded car with an original old Cadillac vs some average restoration of your childhood dream that you will probably pay more for and see less return on.  A Cadillac is a car you can actually enjoy vs just having to tolerate it.  I know all about that toleration thing on some of those "desired" cars, and its not that fun.....

The last and final reason I really have decided that Cadillac is the car I love to collect over anything else is the people!   Cadillac people are smart, they know cars quite well.  Lots of them have traveled down the same path I have to ultimately discover what they missed all along right in front of them.  They pride themselves in the car itself way over some status symbol, fastest car on the road, or ultimate investment.   Ironically, it seems that when you have a group of people that do this, the cars ultimately turn out to be better investments!   You can be a Cadillac person too!  Its not a closed club!  One thing is for certain; if you have been around old cars and know and have experienced all the downsides, an old cadillac will be a breath of fresh air and probably provide you with enjoyment level you have been looking for way over what you have been used to.



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