Now this is our kind of story
Sure, our choice of ride would have been different – nothing wrong with a ’58 Caddy, it’s just not our thing (unless we were going to a rockabilly revival dressed in period drag) – but otherwise, you can’t argue with a trip like this. Way to live the life we all want to live, basically.
The story does beg the question, though— given your druthers, and the opportunity, what would you traverse the country in?
Crossing the Country in a Convertible Cadillac
TWO thousand miles into the trip, with another 1,000 yet to go, it was a 30-cent fuse that finally stopped us. But maybe that’s the sort of trouble you have to anticipate when trying to cross the continent in an old car.
Accompanied by my co-driver and longtime photographer-friend, Terry Moore, I started out last fall with a simple goal: drive a classic convertible coast to coast, mostly following U.S. Route 50 because it is one of the most intact, Interstate-skirting east-west roads still on the maps. Just two middle-age guys, wives and worries left behind, the open sun-struck road ahead.
And not in just any old car, but a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz, a long-neglected castoff that I bought in South Jersey three years ago and had hauled to Vermont for a rebuild of its engine, transmission and brakes. Otherwise, it remained original — the black paint worn, its red leather tuck-and-roll seat covers splitting at various seams, and whatever mysteries and ailments haunting the wiring, the cooling system and the drivetrain waiting to reveal themselves.
Our hope was for a trip that would reacquaint us with the delights of auto journeys from the days before the anomie of Interstate travel, before cruise control, cup holders and satellite radio became ubiquitous. Radial tires, a portable GPS unit and a third brake light mounted above the trunklid were our only concessions to modernity; a dashboard hula girl named Hulia provided a touchstone to the Eldorado’s era.
We knew that the car would also attract attention — it is not small or subtle — and create opportunities to meet people with stories to tell. It did not take long for the adventures to unfold.