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Resurrecting a 1953 Cadillac

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So, last November I bought a 53 Cadillac Sedan.


This car and I go back to 2005.  At the time, I was working in a glass shop managing the commercial glass division.  My auto glass manager at the time came to me and said there's an elderly gentleman that comes in here every so often for a price on a back window on an old Cadillac.  He told me that he couldn't remember what year it was, but gave me his name and number to call him to see if he'd sell his car.  At the time, I was working on my first Cadillac, a 1962 Coupe.  I didn't really need another car, in the interest of curiousity, I figured I'd give the guy a shout.

So I called him up, and he said yes, the car was a 1953 Series 62 sedan.  "Not one of those little Cadillacs" he made sure to point out.  So I asked if he'd sell the car.  He said, yes, and that he'd take three-fifty for it.  Thought to myself, I should likely go to see the car.  We arranged a time to go see the car, and as soon as he opened the door, I was smitten.  So, he proceeds to tell me the story about how he got it.

Mr. Stordy was an insurance salesman and also owned a Kaiser-Frasier dealership in Truro, Nova Scotia.  On his honeymoon driving to Winnipeg, his old Dodge had broken down in Detroit.  While he was waiting for the burned valve to be replaced, he saw a brand new, 1953 Cadillac in a showroom.  He said, I need a Cadillac.  So, apparently, he goes down to the GM offices, and orders his own brand new, 1953 Series 62 Sedan and had it shipped to his K-F dealership in Nova Scotia.  I don't know how he did it, but he did.

I handed him my three-fifty (at the time, I was a poor newlywed, and three-fifty was a lot of money).  He counts the money and said there isn't three-fifty here.  Confused, I said to him, unless they can't count at the bank and I can't count either, there's three-fifty there.  He said, no, I'm looking for three-and-fifty.  You know, $3050.  The guy is 82 years old at the time, so trying to be polite, I said, I'm sorry sir, but there isn't $3050 worth of car here.  We agreed to disagree on the price.  His wife was quite happy to have $350 for the car and was urging him to let the young newlyweds to have the car, by the way.

Every once in awhile, he wouldn't call Bob for the back window price, he'd call me. 

One day, he called, but not for a price on the back window, but to say he sold the house where the car was parked at, and that he moved it to another property under a carport, but the city wanted him to move it under the eyesore bylaw, or else they would.  So, he asked if I'd give him $1500 for it.  I said, sure.  No problem.  My 62 was on the road, figured I'd tinker with that.  So, I show up to pick up the car, $1500 in hand, and he proceeds to tell me, someone offered him $2700 for it that morning.  I said that I can't come up that much, so he better sell it to that guy.

Every once in awhile, I'd drive by, and there the car sat. 

In 2009 for my birthday, my wife hands me a card and said here's your birthday present.  I opened the card, and out fell three pictures of the car.  I said, what, you bought it?  She said I've arranged for you to buy it for $1200.  So, I called up the owner, said you spoke with my wife about buying this car as a birthday present for me for $1200, and was wondering when we could pick it up.  He said, no, I need to have $3500 for the car. 

So, no birthday present for me that year.

Eventually the car disappeared, and I forgot about it.

Fast forward to October 2014 post-Hershey.  I'm in my hotel room in Freeport, Maine, and I see a friend on Facebook posts a pair of Cadillacs he had for sale.  A 1951 Coupe de Ville and a blue 1953 Sedan as a package deal, not willing to separate them.  So, I figured I'd send him a message and ask if he knew if this car had belonged to John Stordy (that was the original owner).  He confirmed and that yes, it was.  I figured it wasn't meant to be.  He wasn't separating the pair and I had no interest in the Coupe.

Finally, Thursday night, I see him share another ad listing the 9 Cadillacs he has for sale.  The 53 isn't part of a package anymore.  So, I Facebooked him and he sent me a bunch of pictures, and I was still hooked.  We chatted on the phone for a bit, agreed to the price, and I got the rest of the story from after the car disappeared.

In 2012, Mr. Stordy passed away at the age of 89.  A fellow insurance agent bought the car from the widow.  He then sold it to a chap near me who had intended to restore it.  Well, along come twins, and there go the restoration plans.  My friend bought it sight unseen as a parts car for the 51 Coupe.  The car shows up on his doorstep, he gets looking at the car, and said, wow, this is in better shape than the 51, way too good for a parts car.  He then finds Mr. Stordy's obituary in the paperwork for the car, and he said, that's it.  This was someone's prized possession, this needs to be restored, not cut up.

In comes me.  I bought the car.  He's kept it in his warehouse for me until spring.  After all, we have a history. 

Mr. Stordy bought this car new, drove it into the early 1970's.  It is an unmolested car, never painted, just maintained and driven.  When I first met Mr. Stordy, he was carrying an oxygen tank and could barely walk, but as soon as he walked in that garage, he ditched the oxygen mask and vividly told the story of his car.  In failing health, battling Alzheimer's, I think I had such a difficult time buying the car from him directly because it was one of the few things he could remember and when it came time to let go, he just couldn't.  I got to know the person behind the car from our phone calls and random meetings.

I know it's not the most desirable car to redo, however, there's a story there.  The car will live on to tell it.


So, now that winter is finally over here in Eastern Canada.  Things are green again, yard work is done, reseeded some bad areas of the lawn and waiting for it to start growing, and the new garage is built.  Now it's time to start into this car that's been in storage for what seems like an eternity.  Took the first step today and got the certificate of ownership straightened out.  Something I should've done months ago, but I've been procrastinating for so long.  It is all now loaded on a flatbed trailer to make its journey to my office on Thursday.  The chap I work for is storing it for a few weeks until I get a few loose ends tied up on the daily drivers before the 53 permanently takes over the garage for the next 10-15 years until roadworthy again. 


The chap I bought it from sent me some pictures of it seeing the light of day again after being in his barn for awhile:


















So, finally, on Thursday, I get to see it for the first time again in years, except this time, it's mine.



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However, if it was mine, I wouldn't restore it, but just clean it up and keep it as an unrestored survivor.


Yeah, I think I'd do something along those lines, too.....


dan ... awesome story & congratulations!



Cort :) www.oldcarsstronghearts.com

1979 & 1989 Caprice Classics | pigValve, paceMaker, cowValve
"Got the wings of heaven on my shoes" __ Bee Gees __ 'Stayin' Alive'
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The car hasn't run in years, so the first thing is to get out the ATF and acetone and see what happens.  My initial thoughts also are to clean it up and see how it looks.  The few holes in the front fenders have to be repaired regardless as the car wouldn't pass the annual safety inspection here with them. 


Once I get it home, I'll spend lots of time in my lawn chair looking at it from every angle and see what the car tells me.  Sounds odd, I know, but sometimes these old ladies just speak to you.

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