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Dave's 1962 Sedan de Ville

"The 62 series closed models show what a powerful design element the skeg was. These low body fins were angled to catch the light and contrast it with the complex shadows of the intricately sculptured lowers."

David recalls that as a youngster, he was always interested in unusual cars and why people chose to drive them, but when at the age of 23 he bought his '62 Cadillac in very neglected condition, he didn't even know how to check a car's oil. That did not deter him from going to look at the Cadillac advertised in "The Age" in January 1988. There it sat in the driveway, a non-runner, peeling purple paint, no brakes, cracked tyres, cracked screen, its underside caked in mud. David says in hindsight that the $4500 he paid was "a bit much" for the car, but the owner delivered it to the carport beside David's Melbourne flat.

As Dave got the car, sitting on the farm

David will be eternally grateful to his mechanic neighbour, Geoff Perdriau, whom he met the day the Cadillac was delivered to the flat. Geoff encouraged him and taught him along the way, and was just as determined as was David to return the Caddy to the road "where it belongs." Geoff, it should be pointed out, owned and still owns a superb 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix, and he and David are good friends to this day.

Under the carport during the next year or so, Geoff and David laboured. When it rained, water ran across the concrete as David lay under the car, but he went through the brakes and the mechanicals, replaced the fuel pump with a correct one, replaced other worn parts, and experienced the thrill of driving the car around the block the first time. This venture was rewarded with a severe transmission leak, so they pulled the trans out and Geoff stripped it and rebuilt it with new seals.

David says he was often working in the dark because he could not locate other '62s to refer to while restoring his own. After four years work, the car was able to be registered (early 92). It turns tightly and appears to have had a good RHD conversion, probably by Lobers in Sydney. David obtained many new parts from Ron McLean, and remembers getting some advice from me. I also showed him some original paint colour and upholstery samples, from which he chose to paint the car Neptune blue. He taught himself to prepare and paint a car, but convinced himself that the result was not good enough to be seen at car shows. He found upholstery cloth locally for the doors and seat inserts, and the original leather and vinyl are still good.

Upholstery before...

and after..

Probably a NSW car from new, it was owned by a Sydney couple from about 1971, and they moved to a farm at Gembrook in the hills near Melbourne in '74. They continued to use it for commuting back to Sydney until it broke down on the highway one night in 1976 with a fuel pump problem. With only 73,000 miles behind it, it was then parked at the farm, the registration lapsed, and it was given to the owner's son-in-law, who appears to have thought it to be quite valuable.

The accident
After little more than the Cadillac's first year on the road, David was out driving on a rainy August night about seven years ago, when a drunk driver accelerating hard in an 8 week old Mitsubishi Verada crossed the centre line of a street near home, and hit the '62 Cadillac head on. That was after David had seen the oncoming car and swerved onto the footpath and nearly stopped. The Caddy was quite badly damaged; it's front bumper was pushed back until it cut the tyre, and the right side chassis rail was bent. David's insurance wrote the car off, so he found a repairer who straightened it out in his home workshop. Unable to find 1962 parts, David located and bought a 1962 front clip in Adelaide with which to repair the wreck. It took a year, during which time David fixed a few other things in the engine bay while the engine was out, plus got some chroming done and improved the paint a little. He says it still far from perfect.

After the accident...and stripped down ready as part of the restoration

After twelve years owning, and an aggregate seven years of driving the '62, David enjoys the car, and hopes never to have to sell it. He has had lots of fun in it, and through various work connections, his car has been used in several movie clips, short films, photo shoots, a TV comedy show, numerous weddings and a funeral. It has taught him about cars while he repaired and got to know every part of it. And after it survived the major smash, he is not afraid to drive it, at least weekly and more in the warmer months, rain or shine. After all, that's where a Cadillac belongs - on the road.

Peter Ratcliff

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
Length 222 ins.