Featured: How I Ended up with "Pop's" 1959 Cadillac

How I Ended up with “Pop’s” 1959 Cadillac

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
March 2, 2015
12 comments

Photographer: Sean Mathis

My grandfather, whom I called “Pop,” originally bought this 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville in California. It was the family car while my dad was growing up but eventually the car fell out of use and was stashed away under a tarp in Pop’s shop. As a kid, I would wander into the garage and drool over the car, but I never even sat in it, much less saw it on the road.

When I was 20, Pop passed away. The car remained in the shop, pulled out once for a cousin’s wedding but then stashed back under the cover. Being the only car enthusiast in our family, I spent most of the next ten years trying to take ownership of the car, offering to purchase it from my grandmother on several occasions. She always turned down my offers. At one point, she even told me that she would rather keep the car in the family than sell it to me. It was at this point that I knew her mind was starting to go and I gave up all hope of ever owning Pop’s car.

Grandma passed away in 2014 and, in her will, she directed that her estate be split evenly between her two sons–my father and my uncle. Well, that’s it, I thought to myself. They’ll sell the Cadillac and some random person will soon be driving around in Pop’s car.

A few months later, however, my dad called me and asked, completely out of the blue, if I still was interested in that old Cadillac.

“Of course!” I answered, likely before he’d finished asking the question.

As it turned out, my dad, sharing my reluctance to let the car leave the family, had bought out his brother’s stake in Pop’s car so that he could give it to me.

I soon realized that my struggles with this car had just begun. Until recently, I had spent my entire life in California and Idaho, never far from Pop, his shop, and the Cadillac. Just before this transfer-of-ownership, however, I had moved to North Carolina and thus faced the challenge of having an 18-foot car transported across the country. After a month of puzzling over logistics, I finally went down to the local Food Lion parking lot to meet my Cadillac.

As I drove into the parking lot, I instantly discovered what owning this car entails: within minutes I had offers from passersby to purchase the car. Employees came out of the stores just to see it up close. With all the attention and hoopla, I was concerned that the car might find a way to let me down and that I’d have to have it towed back to my house. After a bit of encouragement, however, it started up and rolled off the transporter.

I signed the paperwork and started home, filled with a powerful mix of emotions. Despite lusting over this car for my entire life, I had never even sat behind the wheel, and yet here I was, driving it. I was distracted, too, because something felt…wrong. Even when I stepped on the gas, the car just seemed to drag. Oh, that’s why, I realized: the parking brake was engaged. If only all car problems were so easily fixed.

 

As I pulled up to my house, I quickly realized my next unsolved puzzle. Would this 18 feet of Americana fit in my garage? I backed the car up the driveway and into the garage, as close to the wall as possible on the passenger side. Finally, with about a pinky finger’s worth of space between the car’s back bumper and the wall, I managed to get the garage door down.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night. I was so giddy that I stayed up all night, cleaning the car and giving it the much needed love it deserved. The next weekend I took it to a car show that I had just learned about 45 minutes earlier and took home a Top 20 award. Since then, I have attended every local car show and parade I can find and the Cadillac has been a champ, requiring only an oil change and a new battery. I even have the original California license plate that reads “4POPS59,” and have since gotten a North Carolina one to match. 

As the weather warms up this spring, I’ll be hitting the road in my Cadillac, taking it to more distant car shows, using it to raise money for charity, and mostly just sharing my excitement with others. And further down the proverbial road, I’ll see that my son owns it.

Editor’s Note: You can follow Sean’s  adventures with his grandfathers Cadillac at his website or on Facebook

 

 

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Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves

America´s glamour at its best!

Amazing car and story! Enjoy it!

Jan Snider
Jan Snider

What a beauty, and what a story. The 1959 Cadillac just oozes style and glamour. Have you gotten it up to speed? And parade duty can be hard on a car, all that low speed driving can “carbon up” plugs and such. Plus, there is no lead in our gasoline anymore. Beware of valve seat recession, unless it has already been taken care of. One other thing, a 50 plus cooling system has got to have some corrosion inside. What a ride, keep it up to pass on to your children.

Chris Leighton
Chris Leighton

Happy days. Your Dad rocks and your Uncle can’t be too bad either. Vale the Grandies. Must have been a blue-balls few decades for you. Drive it until the wheels fall off (you missed the cross-country transit though!)

Dennis White
Dennis White

Love the Caddie shakin’ its tail off the transporter! A world of hurt if ever engaged! And love the color.

Frank Matthews
Frank Matthews

Great car, and even better story. I love the pix of the Caddy on the transporter, easily twice the size of the Porsche. I hope your son (or daughter) keeps the car in the family.

olddavid
olddavid

I owned a turquoise twin to this car for four years. Easy car to keep on the road, but be cognizant of the zerk fittings and foibles of the drum brakes. And do not allow those long mouldings on the quarters to get dented. They may as well be made of gold.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Great story, love the pics of the Caddy looking so incongruous on the transporter.

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

In a car like this, even the color works as a statement! Nice car, story and pics!

Martin James
Martin James

Believe it or not .. here in the US back in the late 50’s Salmon / Dusty Rose etc [ otherwise known in the Hot Rod/Custom vernacular as Pepto Bimsol pink ] was a very popular color choice especially on the larger ‘ luxo barges [ Cadillac Lincoln Mercury etc ] … specifically amongst Italian/American males . They recognizing the ladies were attracted to the guy driving the most ‘ stylish ‘ car … not the fastest … with that color suiting their Poodle skirts … Angora sweaters etc styles of the day to a tee . My grandfather [… Read more »

Emanuel Costa
Emanuel Costa

But now lots of these cars that still exist were repainted in other colors, I believe. Might not be a statement then, but it sure is now, at least in Europe it is. The only pink car I saw in years was an horrible 3 door Opel Corsa!

Torie Mathis
Torie Mathis

When we drove to pick up the car I don’t think it really sunk in, I think I had to pinch Sean a few times. We are ecstatic to have her home and a part of our family, where she belongs. Pop’s memory will live on in her, and our family welcomes the summers full of car shows for years to come. What great memories for the kiddos to have of growing up. Sweet story. 🙂

Martin James
Martin James

Ahhhh … finally .. Something positive to comment about this week . A Cadillac back from the days when a Cadillac was a Cadillac [ not a rebadged Chevy-OPEL-Holden ] .. and when Cadillac truly was the GOLD standard in luxury cars . Even surpassing Rolls Royce back in the day both in reputation as well as desirability . So keep that ole girl running Sean and use her as her makers intended .. even going so far as to take a family vacation or two in her . Fact is … I’d recommend it . . She’s a gem… Read more »