Photos by Cruisin’ Images and Johnny Covey
Holding a Flush in a poker hand, or a Straight, or Full House is hard to beat –and today’s “Pro” built cars equate to that hand – winning huge awards at events and shows. But for the backyard builder – the guy that builds his own car in his garage, three of a kind isn’t all that bad. Certainly beats a pair – or the guy is bluffing! Those little-guy builds can win awards, too…and get feature articles like this one, especially if they are as nice as these three!
Back in 2002, Dan Jetter found a ’54 Cadillac hardtop on a farm in Erie, Colorado. It had been an “ad car,” meaning, in its previous life, locals paid to have their business names painted on its sides. The Cad was kept at their airport for commercial pilots to drive back and forth to the town’s hotel, some 20 miles away. When Dan found it, it had been ‘retired’ and neglected, but a gallon of gas on the fender, a hose to the carb and a new battery, the car fired up and idled.
After Dan purchased it, what little rust it had was removed, the body smoothed and tinted green industrial primer sprayed, glass replaced and the interior done in Turquoise and White rolls and pleats, Dan was finally ready to show off his huge kustom, aptly named “Cadisorus.”
In 2004, flames were painted and matte clear sprayed to make it a bit more distinctive. Five years later, the stock 331” V8 and Hydramatic transmission were pulled and rebuilt. Since then, Dan’s Cad averages 19-21 mpg on the highway – not bad for a 4680 pound car.
That summer, his friend Ron Brown of Elizabeth, Colorodo, heard about a ’56 Cadillac for sale. A deal was struck and Ron traded his ’37 Chevy street rod straight across for the Cadillac and a 1954 Ford F-100 that needed work.
The Cadillac drove well with the 500”cid engine and a 200R-4 transmission and he cruised the car, with some trepidation, for a couple of years, going with Dan to a few rod runs until he decided it needed a stronger transmission. Talk of a Cadillac only club started with Ron and Dan.
However, just a pair of Cadillacs, or cards, needn’t stop this story and the Poker analogy still works. A pair of Cadillacs, like cards, are two of a kind, a working poker hand – not the best but playable. When playing five card draw, new cards could make a difference. Discard a couple, draw two more to match what’s in the hand or a single match to the pair. Fortune smiled – one card was about to be discarded in Lakewood, ColoRODo – a failed project.
Roger heard about the ’55 Coupe DeVille and decided to check it out. Dan and Ron had their Cadillacs drivable so he decided to purchase the project thinking the ’55 hardtop could be on the streets in six months and the newly formed “Caddy Boys” would have a third member. Wishful thinking!
Problem is Poker hands can be dealt the wrong cards! Same with car building- it took Roger over a year to get the Cad drivable. The 500” Cadillac engine/T-400 transmission that came with the car was OK – for a while, until the summer of rod running with the other two Cads proved costly.
On the trip back to Denver from a Salina, Kansas show, the engine went thru 14 quarts of oil (and that’s a one way trip of 425 miles) – time to overhaul the engine and finish the car. Three and a half years later, Roger’s “Roadliner” rolled out of his backyard garage resplendent in its Lavender BC/CC paint, Pearl White interior, white walls, hubcaps and fender skirts.
While Roger was middle of his build, Ron sold the F-100, financed a new transmission for the ’56 and – while he was at it – decided to re-paint it. To say Ron got carried away would be an understatement! The Cad was sidelined for years in his garage-the chassis was cleaned, the 500” overhauled, a rebuilt 700 R-4 installed and the body stripped of its thick white enamel paint. “Butterscotch Dreamsicle” BC/CC paint was sprayed on the body and the roof was sprayed an off-white.
With the body done, Ron found a ’76 Cadillac split bench seat, cut it down to fit, upholstered it and the rest of the interior in Tan Leather and Tan vinyl. In the Spring of 2017 Ron’s brand new Cadillac, now named “Cadiyacht” rolled out of his garage. The “Caddy Boys” of Denver, Colorado were now ‘three of a kind’ – a hard to beat poker hand and an even harder to beat trio of Cadillacs.
With all three Cadillacs finally finished, the three-of-a-kind “little guy” homebuilt Cadillacs enjoyed going to rod runs/events, racking up highway miles and awards and were the subject of countless photos/videos and questions. “The Caddy Boys” are playing their best hand and winning big…watch for the three of them this summer at a rod run or event near you.
A NOTE FROM ROD AUTHORITY EDITOR DAVE CRUIKSHANK – What a killer trio of mid-fifties Cadillacs! Each is so cool and dialed-in, it was hard to pick which one was my favorite. I agree that some of the best builds are from guys in their garages around the country, no million dollar budgets required. Thanks to all of you guys for bringing these beauties back from hibernation, so we can all enjoy them in the sunshine where they belong.