Cadillac Cruise Reports (and Plans)

This is the space where I plan to document my Cadillac driving adventures.  The rest of the site is about working on them, and why the heck would you want to do that?  To DRIVE.  So I will try to document the trips here.

Upcoming adventures:  To Live and Drive in LA, and the Mid Life Madness.

Santa Cruz and San Francisco June 26, 2004.

I had planned to cruise to LA this week in my 1975 Eldorado Convertible, but my "shotgun" cancelled at the last minute due to a family illness.  I was bummed, but didn't feel up to making the 350+ mile trek to LA by myself.  So I was feeling a little sorry for myself when I found this out on Thursday, so I set off to make the most of my weekend.

On Friday, I invited myself out to dinner with fellow 1975 Eldorado Convertible owner Tom Bombaci and his family.  We hauled the entourage out for Japanese food in the landyacht. After we got back, we played some of his way cool video games in his basement, and did a night cruise out to the Santa Clara fairgrounds where folks were setting up for a pinball and video game auction.  A nice cool top down night and some gratuitous driving.  That helped the itch some.

But then I got a surprise.  An old gearhead friend from high school calls.He lives on the East Coast, and I in San Jose, CA.  We see each other about once a year or so when he travels out to the west coast for business.  He had yet to meet my Cadillac, and my family is out of town.  So we agree to meet on Saturday (today).

9AM:  Phone rings. Plan to meet at the Mariott Courtyard in Cupertino, and see where we end up.

10:30AM:  Arrive at Marriot.  Ben, who had a big fat Olds in High School, marvels at the way oversized beast rolling up to reception.  He grins.  He declines my offer to let him drive, preferring to take in all the sights instead.  A quick tour of the features (including the working 8 track deck!) and off we go.  Top down, and a nearly cloudless Northern California day.

First stop:  Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.  Hauling over the mountain on twisty CA route 17 is a treat in the new suspension, and the cool mountain breezes offset the throbbing hot sun.  We roll up into Santa Cruz around 11:30 AM.  We park and walk the length of the boardwalk, ride the Giant Dipper, and score some fountain soda to rehydrate.  We stay long enough to compare to the Jersey shore of our youth, and then back in the Cadillac for the next stop.

Ultimately, Ben needs to end up in San Francisco at Moscone Center for a conference.  It is a good 75 miles away.  The sane way to do it is to head back up 17 and catch 280 or 101 up to the city.  But that is not what this day is for.  No sir, no 6-lane superhighways for this cruise!

We drive across Santa Cruz through the University part of town and pick up CA 1 north:  The Pacific Coast Highway.  Normally, you can expect cold and fog, or blistering, relentless heat.  But today, the gods have approved the ride and we have bright sunshine and a cool breeze.  And no serious traffic. We tool up Highway 1 at a leisurely 50 mph, taking in all the sights.  The oceans, the lighthouses, the cliffs, the beaches, and the mountains.  Up to Half Moon Bay where we stop at Cameron's British Pub for a lunch of burgers and artery clogging deep fried yummies.  Folks in the parking lot smile as we pull out of dock, and continue up the road, through Half Moon Bay, Montara, Pacifica, Daly City, and smack into the clog on Hospital Curve heading into The City.

We creep through the San Francisco traffic, and jump off on Van Ness, where we loop around City Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, and the old buildings around the city center.  We spin around to catch the Bay Bridge off to Treasure island where we marvel at the clear skies and the San Francisco skyline.  A few misguided turns later, we are on to the Embarcadero and driving across the waterfront.

Looking for the infamous Lombard Street, but a few wrong turns swing us into Union Square and back into the financial district.  With a few more fortuitous turns we get up Hyde and turn on to Lombard, Wheeeee!!! Piloting the 20 foot blue monster down the tight twisties of Lombard street.  It fits!!!  There are a few hills along the way to and from Lombard where the Eldo's gargantuan hood hides the crest of the hill, and a few tense moments as I lift out of my seat to try to see over hill crests.  But lo, we survive to tell the tale.

After finding a few narrow streets with scant inches to spare on either side of the behemoth, we ultimately work our way to Telegraph Hill and drop by Coit tower, to take in the city sights.  We pass through Chinatown on the way to Moscone where I finally drop off my friend at about 5:30.  He thanks me for the ride and though he is not a fan of convertibles, he enjoyed the 150 mile cruise around the Bay area in an American Icon.  He has also been to San Francisco a number of times, and commented that driving through the city was a totally different experience in such a big car with no roof!

I load up my MP3 player with tunes and set off rocketing down highway 280, where I sail home at 75 mph, smooth as glass.  I just got home, and boy am I amped up.  I'm also WAY sunburned.  Mental note:  Sunscreen and a hat, dumbass.  That SPF 0 roof was not offering any protection.

It's days like this where I don't mind the fact that my car sucks down so much money.  This is the kind of day that I live for.  I had a lot of things I could have been doing today and I should have been a responsible adult.But I traded that all in for some automotive joy.  After I rest up a little, I'll get on that responsible adult crap.

Happy cruising, folks.  Never miss an opportunity to hit the road.

1975 Eldorado Convertible:  $3500.
Repairs to make it roadworthy: $8000.
Gas to travel 200 miles: $60.
A cruise story to remember: priceless.

Phil Remaker
June 26, 2004

Walnut Creek for Surgery September 28, 2008.

The question today boys and girls is:

What's the difference between interior parts of a 1975 Eldorado Coupe and a Convertible?

Thankfully, the answer is "not a lot!"

Thanks to Stephan's incredible generosity, the non-original interior from his recently acquired parts hardtop coupe ("The Big Blue Beater") has been transplanted into my 1975 Convertible.  So I have gone fron an Antique Light Blue interior to a dark blue non-original interior.  It is quite can improvement over my dramatically rotting seats which I refused to spend over $1500 to re-cover.  I am doing psuedo-restoration on the cheap, and this was a great opportunity to reduce the suckage of the interior (at the cost of originality).

I arrived around in Walnut Creek at 9AM after a 60 mile drive rocketing up 680 from San Jose with the top down on a cool September morning in Northern California.  Cranking up the tunes in my 1978 nonoriginal GM 8-track with rotting non-10 Ohm speakers.  No, this car will win no award, but the low-fidelity tunes with the wind in my thinning hair made me smile the whole way.

We presumed we could easily do this jon in 3 hours, maybe 4.  I had a hard stop at 3:00PM (a school dinner commitment), but would easily leave by 2. Fool!  Fool, fool, fool!  :-)

We jumped to work.  We hauled the new seats and carpet out to the driveway and went to work.  We removed the rear seat and the 4 big Torx bolts and then muscled out the 16 nuts and 16 bolts holding in the front seats.  We discovered the trick to removing the handles on the back of the seat (The plastic INSERT pops out!).  We moved my old handles to the new seats so Stephan could preserve the original orange-plaid handles under the re-covering material (He has a Mandarin Orange 1975 Eldorado Convertible).  We then pulled the matching recover material off that handle to cover my old ones.  The morning was spent pulling out the seats and carpet, and laying in the new carpet.  The holes all matched!  I also found that because of the water invasion through my leaky top, the power seat cables were hopelessly corroded.  Thankfully, Stephan had an extra (surprise!).

The work was quite a sight - Stephan's neighbors wondered aloud at him if he got another parts car.  Some neighbors stopped by to chat, offer support and help.  It was something of a mechanical barn-raising :-)

My favorite tool:  The electric screwdriver.  Don't leave the garage without one!

We had a wonderful lunch of greek food (Thanke Janine!) and I got friendly with the Kozanda Greyhounds.  Well, at least their girl, Rocket, who was such a sweetie.  The boy dog was a bit more timid and I didn't really get to meet him much.  But those dogs were really cute and a lot of fun to habve lunch around.  I suppose Rocket was more interested in the Gyro than me, but she was still cute.

We then started the install process after lunch.  Two hours to go, what can go wrorng?

We then learned to Cosmic Rule of Four.  If you have FOUR things to do, THREE will be effortless and ONE will suck.

The seats are 4 parts:  2 50-50 parts, a back, and a bottom.  All went in except the passenger side, whic sat too high.  Looking at it, we saw that there were PLATES spot welded under the seats on the 4 mounting points for no apparent reason.

3 of the 4 plates came off with a hammer and chisel (screwdriver).  The 4th needed earnest hacksawing.  Why would you spot weld metal spacers under a seat?  Anyone?  Once we got off the 4 plates, the seat went in.

I had in my stash 3 of the 4 seat belt assembles for the darker blue color. The 4th was inexplicably missing from my stash, so I have one mismatched seat belt in light blue. :-(

So then we went on:

The door panels went on nicely from the coupe - for the front.  Some of the screws did not punch through the aftermarket covering, and we had to fuss with that a lot (Maybe 3 of the 4 worked!!).  So the doors are a dark blue and look pretty nice.

The carpet from the coupe fit in well.  It was one piece instead of two, which made it fussier to install, but we got it in.  It was pretty stained, but cleaned up pretty well after 15 quality minutes with a carpet cleaner. Miraculously, all of the existing carpet holes lined up.  We were able to route all of the wires with minimal hassle.

The rear seat fit, albeit snugly (as I was told it would).  The panels were a no go - since the convertible has window controls, the top opening was too small and there was NO opening for the courtesy light (since the cope has it overhead).  Stephan gave me the panels, I will try to strip off the covering and re-glue it to my existing panels.  Similarly, the upper-panel pads are differently sized, and I hope to uncover those as well and re-use the material to cover the convertible upper-panel pads.

We raced against the clock to install the last of the parts and as I went to leave the seat belt buzzer failed to shut off.  We never connected the wires.  After a mad dash to try to fix it (I was already late) Stephan suggested that disassembling the lower dash and removing the buzzer would be faster.  So we did!  Quickly.  We pulled the buzzer, and now I need to fix all of the wiring to that the automatic seat releases and seat belt alerts work properly.  The power seats do!

On the way we have dozens of mismatched screws, missing holes, things that didn't quite fit and parts that were not what we hoped.  But in the end, the inside of my car looks MUCH better and FEELS better to sit in, too!

I left at 3:30 - 30 minutes past my absolute drop-dead departure time.  I rudely left Stephan with an awesomely bad mess in his driveway, and I felt bad about that (Sorry, Stephan!), but I felt even worse about the possibility of failing to meet my commitment at home.

I completed the drive home, top down and top speed, in record time. Cranking the tunes, getting burned by the relentless autumn sun.  Smiling. Woohoo!

I love my new interior seats.  Thanks Stephan and Janine!  I also dumped most of my parts stash on Stephan.  I so rarely work on my car that there is no point for me to have them.  Working on a car has become a social event for me, so I'm sure the next time I need a part I will drive out to Walnut Creek again for another mechanical play date.

Stephan should be posting photos on House of Cadillacs soon.  I will need to fine tune the installed bits, but the mismatched, non-orginal, non-convertible, incorrectly colored seats are just TONS better than what I had.

Did I mention that I'm smiling?

Stephan has published a photo essay of the project.

To Live and Drive in LA: Being Planned.  

The philosophy of this cruise is to pack as much tourist-crap-you-can-do-in-a-covertible into a weekend trip, 12 hours of which is already eaten up getting to and from the greater LA Metroplitian area.  The basic idea is to drive everywhere that you have heard of, eat at only famous places, and find every boulevard even mentioned in a rock and roll song and drive down it.




And also:

Visit Legendary Cadillac owners Joe Foerster and Jeff Stork.

Mid Life Madness: Being Planned.  This was the announcement..

Shhh, Its a secret.  An idea.  Madness.  Total madness, even.

On the weekend of 6/25/2004, I have a vision:  An idea that is insane, indefensible, and whatever other in-word you can think of.

My wife and kids... gone.
Sean's wife and kids... gone.
Steve's wife and kids... understanding of Steve's need for a break.

My car has a new suspension.  It looks like crap, but it can drive.

It can drive a long way.

A long, long way.

It can go to the place it was *born* to go.  The place of legends.  The Entertainment Capital of the World. The Land of Elvis Impersonators, Cadillacs, and Dan Tanner.

Las Vegas, Nevada.

That's right.  With no air conditioning, we will sail the 8 1/2 hour journey across the desert, top down 24x7, slathered in SPF 50.  Eating bugs, burning skin, and mussing our hair all to show up in a place where we will not spend a penny gambling.  Except for the utter lack of drugs, Hunter Thompson would be proud.

Put 44 PSI in the tires, 30 gallons of Texas Tea in the tank, and gallons of drinking water in the back seat.  Load up the 8 tracks, and wire up the MP3 player.  Cut your hair short, stock up on chap stick.  Get some cheap sunglasses, a change of clothes, and a bad attitude.  And roll.

The itinerary includes cruising the arcades on the strip, marveling at the Hoover Dam, getting a chocolate buzz at the Ethel M chocolate factory, and roller-coastering at the stratosphere.  Drinking virgin Pina Coladas on faux beaches, and rocking out at the Hard Rock casino.  Hitting the water park in the 130 degree heat.  Marveling at the New York skyline.  Making an archeological dig at Luxor, and looking at the Tigers That Ate Sigfried and Roy.  Sleep all day, adventure all night.  Invert the sleeping schedule, and hide from the cruel desert sun.  Big Gulps all around.

Yes, my friends.  Madness.  Madness writ large.  I have lots to do:  Work, homework, community service, long term financial planning... All of that adult responsibility crap.  I would be well advised to abandon such folly. You should even devote your energy to disabusing me of the notion.


I can hear it.

The beckoning of Las Vegas Boulevard.

My need to drive my 30 year old beater down the strip.  To take it so see its home, its roots, the place where it belongs.  To thumb my nose at the newer slicker cars, and the well dressed gold-lamé clad beautiful people. To slum it into town in the great landshark, in the night, awash in the manic glittering of megawatts of wantonly squandered energy.

My wife will kill me.  "Where did you get all this Las Vegas Memorabilia?" "Las Vegas"  "Whaaaaaaaaat!!?!?!"

So, think about it.  Talk me out of it.  Get on board.  Think about what you'll pack.  Or laugh and delete the message.

I think I may be serious.  Do you hear the call?

Far be it from my friends to talk sense into me.  Here were the follow up messages.

In order to sweeten the deal, here is what I propose bringing:
a) my personal spud bazooka -- uses hairspray, and can probably put a potato through a windshield at 30 paces.  An amazing (and necessary) accessory for a road trip to LV in a convertable.  Imagine all the kangaroos we can waste on the way there... 
b) some form of guitar that can plug into an amp of some sort that plugs into your car in some way that allows me to stand in the back seat and channel Elvis while driving down the strip at 15 miles an hour... 
c) survival gear, in case the climate suddenly changes and/or the Koreans nuke the Western seaboard and we have to fight the irradiated human vampire mutants and whatnot when the local 7-11 runs out of sunflower seeds and big gulps -- I mean come on, Nevada has prostitutes, so they shouldn't have a problem with guns and ammo in the trunk of the Elvis-mobile.... right?

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