In Which Your Author Tests His Patience Over A 53 Year Old Plastic Cadillac

Two Sundays ago I attended the twice-a-year model car/promo/kit swap meet and show in Countryside, IL, in suburban Chicagoland. As usual, I brought plenty of cash. As usual, I spent a lot of it. I got several nice Cadillac promos. One of them was this dark red 1966 Cadillac Coupe de Ville promo, which I got from my buddy Jim Smith. And all was well-until last night.

I was doing some cleaning around the house that evening and noticed that this model had a dusty interior. Common on these old promos, as many of them have sat on shelves for decades. The easy solution is a Q tip. So as I was cleaning the 1/24 scale seats and floorboards, I knocked the steering wheel off. It must have been previously glued, maybe with Elmer’s glue or something, because it shouldn’t have come off so easily.

Ordinarily this would be an easy fix if the model was a convertible. A drop of superglue, pressure for 30 seconds or so, job done. But the tiny vent windows on this car prevented easy access to the dash. As well as my fat fingers, as I found out with increasingly mounting fury.

To make matters worse, the freaking wheel itself was just a smidge too large to fit thru the window, and when I tried they popped out of the tweezers’ grip. Multiple times. By this point there was lots of colorful swearing. ‘Dagnabit’ and ‘consarnit’ quickly gave way to R- and X-rated epitaphs. The tiny Cadillac crest on that steering wheel was laughing at me, I tell you.

I just kept getting more and more pissed off. Which is always a recipe for disaster. And naturally I went backward success-wise in increasingly futile attempts. I was using my phone’s LED flashlight for extra light, and it got thrown across the room at one point. And I came *thisclose* to doing the same thing with the car. Oh, ohhh, it would have felt sooooo good to smash the freaking thing. For two seconds. Then regret would have immediately set in, and ‘Dammit, why was I so stupid?’ recriminations. I know this from model kits I built as a kid. And it’s why I rarely build model kits today, I just don’t have the patience.

So I took a break before I blacked out and wrecked this awesome tiny Cadillac, but it took some effort. Finally, after about the 26th try, I got the damn thing to seat properly in the socket, and all was well. I don’t even remember how I did it. Man, the whole experience drove me nuts! I quickly put it back on the shelf and made a vodka tonic. Or two. Or was it three?

Anyway, this morning I thought it was kind of amusing, and thought I’d share it, now that the fury and frustration was burned off after a good night’s sleep. Ha. I really do love the model though. Thanks to a certain movie this past summer, I’ll always associate 1966 Coupe de Villes with Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Was ’66 Peak Cadillac? Maybe, though ’58, ’62 and ’68 are all great years too.

12 Replies to “In Which Your Author Tests His Patience Over A 53 Year Old Plastic Cadillac”

  1. AvatarJohn C.

    Nice model. I was in Budapest, Hungary last week on vacation and was able to pick up a yellow ZAZ Tavria model at a junk store. I didn’t even know what it was, I was thinking the domestic name of the Lada Samara. Actually from Ukraine. Still saw some East block stuff on the road they seem to mainly drive 15-20 year old Western Euro stuff.

    Reply
  2. Avatar-Nate

    I can dig this thread ! .

    I like to fix things and often the thing is delicate / complex / rare / etc. in addition to not being designed to be fixed….

    As I age out I have increasing difficulties with access like you did .

    In 1970 a friend’s mom had a gold ’66 Caddy Coupe, it was very nice indeed but I still think I’d rather have a ’53 Coupe with Dagmars .

    -Nate

    Reply
  3. AvatarAcd

    Having spent the better part of today working on two toilets and a bathroom faucet set I completely understand your predicament and frustration. My low point today was when the nut on the supply line to the toilet broke and I couldn’t get the other end of the line off the shut off valve that didn’t close all the way so it continued to leak all over the hardwood floor. But when it finally loosened up (after dousing it with WD-40 and letting it sit for a while and then dousing it some more) and came off, I was able to put the new supply line on and everything suddenly came together like it was supposed to. It was such a feeling of accomplishment that I tackled the other toilet and then the bathroom faucet.

    Reply
  4. Avatarstingray65

    My parents had a 66 Caddy back in the day, and it truly was peak Cadillac. Unlike earlier Caddies, by 1966 they had all the features that a “modern” car needs such as power everything, cruise control, climate control, and tilt/telescoping wheel, plus real leather, real stainless steel trim, and superior fabric in the interior, and zero fake wood or cheap plastic fittings. The styling was super clean, with only a tasteful hint of the “traditional” (since 1948) Caddy tailfin, and the general workmanship was first rate as all the panels fit with precision (I know because I washed and waxed it many times). Assuming you could survive without Apple Carplay and only 10-12 mpg, you could get in a nicely restored 66 Caddy and drive across the country today in great comfort and with no concerns about reliability or keeping up with modern traffic.

    Reply
    • Avatarstingray65

      Although my parent’s 66 didn’t have it, the 1966 Cadillac was I believe the first production car in the world to offer heated seats.

      Reply
    • AvatarJohn C.

      Personally I am all over as to peak Cadillac. What holds me back on these years is how much I like the concurrent Imperials. At the time Chrysler had left them BOF so they were much closer in NVH to Caddy than the louder unit Lincolns or lessor Chryslers. The looks by Engel were an update on his earlier Lincolns on a bigger canvas but with more old touches. On the road then there would have been 10+ Caddys for every Imperial, another big plus.

      I didn’t know Cadillac was first with the heated seat. Seems like a national affront to Sweden. Ha

      Reply
      • Avatarstingray65

        John, I think you could easily make the argument that a mid-60s Imperial or Continental were also peaks for those brands. Most tests of the time had the Caddy ahead in terms of driving dynamics, but Lincoln had disc brakes and radial tires ahead of Caddy, and Imperial had arguably even swankier interiors than Cadillac, and both were far less common for those who wanted something non-mainstream. By the mid-60s all of them offered “timeless” styling, were well built, and offered all effortless power, spacious comfort, and the bells and whistles a luxury buyer of the time could ever want, but seldom find on any non-American “luxury” car. Too bad they couldn’t keep it up.

        Reply
        • AvatarJohn C.

          On these, we are in total agreement. They were all superb.

          Remember that isolation is a goal on top luxury. So incorporating radials and unit construction and for that matter irs should be done carefully. My evidence for that is Rolls Royce. The unit, irs Silver Shadow new for 66 was initially a step back on isolation/nvh even as they delayed radials to avoid impact harshness. Suddenly the LTD is quieter, can’t have that.

          Reply
        • Avatar-Nate

          My 1965 Lincoln was the first year they came with disc brakes (front only of course) and they were MASSIVE OVERKILL and could get you into trouble if you liked to drive that land yacht quickly in the curves (I did) .

          My ’63 & ’64 Lincolns had drum rakes all ’round and wore them out quickly, all of them were outstandingly fine autos but not *quite* as good as a Caddy .

          I saw a raggedy ’63 ~ ’65 Lincoln on a trailer to – day in Inglewood, Ca, hopefully on it’s way to be restored .

          -Nate

          Reply
  5. AvatarSoberD

    Just saw the real thing for sale this weekend on a backroad in southeast WI. Absolutely beautiful car, even when it needs a full repaint.

    Reply
  6. Avatarsgeffe

    I hear Tom on the “no patience” thing! Thank goodness for decent iPhone cases, or mine would have died a few deaths from impacts! Mostly to carpeted floors, but once I fastballed it at a wall, and left no marks on the case!

    Reply
  7. AvatarGlenn Kramer

    Tom,
    Definitely ’66 as peak Cadillac…combination of exterior/interior quality and style (’67 and on interior quality went downhill quickly), engine and options over the competition (stereo, seat warmer, great trouble free climate control, twilight sentinel, tilt and telescope wheel), to me it was at the top of the world.

    Reply

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