Our 1953 Cadillac

My love of Cadillacs goes back to those early years when I first knew Jim. He bought a black 1952 Coupe shortly after I met him. That was in about 1965, so the car was a little old, but still nicer than anything my family every drove. I learned to drive in that car and went on all the special dates (like Prom, Homecoming, Wedding) in the ’52.

1952 Cadillac on our wedding day

1952 Cadillac on our wedding day

The trunk of the car was big enough for everything four guys took to college the first week. During college my friends and I did significant work on the car. We rebuilt the carburetor, replaced the drive shaft and repaired some rust. When I went off to college and met the special young lady who would become my wife, Jim sold the Cadillac to me for One Dollar. Unfortunately, being young ones with hotter ideas in mind, and facing more repairs than we thought we could afford, we decided to sell the Cadillac and buy a ’65 Mustang convertible. Jim was pretty sad that I sold the car, he loved that black beauty as much as I would now. The Mustang was a fun car, but let’s just say it was neither practical nor reliable.

Within a couple of months Jim showed up at our door with a blue 1953 Cadillac sedan. That was in 1972. Jim had that car for years and made several trips to visit us driving the stately old dowager. We called the car the “Blue Lady.” While Jim owned the car he made several trips to Wisconsin from Jamestown with his mother and his Aunt Sis. Jim’s Aunt Sis was a very proper woman with blue hair who loved lots of activity in her life. The ladies would ride in subdued elegance, talking and working on their handicraft projects. One of their projects was hand-made Christmas ornaments. Jim’s mother and Aunt Sis passed away many years ago, but we still have dozens of those beautiful ornaments.

1953 Cadillac

Jim with the ’53 in 2002

Sixteen years after showing up at our doorstep with the ’53 Jim called and asked if we would be interested in buying her at market price. That decision took less than a minute, and within a week we had our Cadillac. We benefited greatly from having the Blue Lady as a family member. We took her to dozens of car shows, parades, visits to friends, picnics, trips to the Dairy Queen and just driving around. I even chauffeured for several weddings and more than one prom! For many years she gave us family-centered events during the summer. All of the car shows and tours gave Lon the ability to identify most cars of the ’40s and ’50s.

Lon and I spent a spring rebuilding the engine. We delegated the transmission to a specialist, but took apart just about every bolt in the engine. Lon and Mara both learned how an engine works and how to use several of the tools. This rebuilding project is certainly one of the reasons that Lon has been so excited about cars. Even Jim came down for a weekend and helped rework the flywheel. Without a doubt the car runs much better, with more pep than ever before. Both the transmission and the engine were getting tired after 140,000 miles, it had burned some oil and the transmission was beginning to slip some. But now it’s nearly perfect!

Other projects include painting various parts in the engine compartment, new carpet, appropriate seat covers, and general upkeep. We used the car to go to car shows, tours and just about whatever came up. We were members of two car clubs, the Cadillac La Salle Club and the Antique Automobile Club of America. There are some really nice people in those clubs, with plenty of knowledge about how to keep up one of these aging beauties.

One Cadillac wasn’t enough, so in 1993 we bought Marvin. But that’s another story. Then in 2003 I was able to buy yet another. But that’s another story, too. Four Cadillacs in one lifetime is maybe enough for me?

In case you missed the original story of why Jim was so excited about Cadillacs, read the letter here.Grandpa Guy Havelick


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