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Brian's 1963 Convertible

The character and substance of the 1963 Cadillac is reflected in clean, bold lines, with formed metal contours only where they provide the dual function of styling beauty and structural strength.

South Australian member, Brian Hallo has been restoring historical vehicles for 20 years. Apart from the paint and chrome, Brian has done everything himself including the RHD conversion, upholstery etc. on his 63 convertible...

This all came about because my wife Margaret thought a Caddy would make a worthy addition to our stable of history - so it’s all her fault!! During September of 1995, on a visit to the USA we stopped overnight in a small town in Northern California. We went for a walk and stopped at a car lot with a Chrysler New Yorker of about 1965 out the front. I got into conversation with the owner of the yard and mentioned that I could be interested in a 60’s Cadillac convertible - “Tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you” was the reply.

The following year we were booked to go once again to the US so I phoned him and suggested a 63 CVT and that silver blue would be nice but any colour would be OK. About a month before we were due to leave he phoned me to say “Got your Caddy”. I asked what colour and he said black, I said OK and sent him a deposit to show good faith.

We duly arrived in San Francisco where we stayed for 2 days while Margaret sussed out the shopping and I found the Greyhound depot and bought tickets to Modesto where we were to be picked up for the fifty miles to Sonora.

When we arrived in the town we drove to a disused warehouse where the only occupant was the biggest and blackest car I think I have ever seen. We got it out of the shed, attended to the finance and drove it around the town for the day. The next day, Sunday, we set out for Reno Nevada, about 180 miles away, through the picturesque Sierra Nevada’s. About 9 miles into our journey she coughed, spluttered and died - Margaret nearly did too - the road was very narrow but I was able to guide her into a corner and stop. I lifted the bonnet to investigate. I determined that there was no lack of fuel so looked at the distributor and discovered a spot of oil on the points. After cleaning she fired up and we were away - in some comfort I might add - but with lingering doubts. In spite of this we arrived in Reno with no more trouble.

I had the driveline renewed and a new windscreen fitted, did a bit of sightseeing before returning to Sonora to pick up the Certificate of Title and then down to LA for shipment - about 1000 miles in all. When the contractor arrived, I was there for the unveiling, together with 4 MGs, 3 half MGs and sundry bits, having shared a container with an importer. We eventually pushed her out of the container and fitted a battery, poured a bit of fuel down her throat and she fired up immediately.

After customs clearance and quarantine I drove her home. Then began the tasks of conversion and restoration. I opted for a mirror image conversion, and with the advice of the consulting engineer used a Holden reconditioned box, which has proved to be very user friendly and so easy to fit. The most difficult task was the dash but with grit and determination I finished.

I then set about the bodywork, stripping off many coats of paint and repairing the small amount of rust and then recoating with acrylic lacquer, all of this took many hours of work. A cut and polish finished the job. Then came the seats which I refinished in leather as they were done in the factory. My last job was fitting the new top which I had bought in America and put in the trunk.

We are now looking forward to many happy journeys with great memories of seeing the car in different surroundings in California having enjoyed our adventure.

TECH SPECS
390 cubic inch V8
325 bhp @ 4800 rpm
430 ft/lbs torque @ 3100 rpm
10.5 compression ratio
4-bbl carburettor
Hydra-Matic 4 speed transmission
12 inch drum brakes all round
Overall length 223”, height 56.4”, width 79.7”


In Canberra, Easter 2002