I can’t tell you a sure-fire way to find love, but I know when I have it. And it has nothing to do with landing a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. For more than 40 years, this Cadillac used Texas roads to catwalk 56,000 miles before an estate sale brought it to Massachusetts. When I purchased it for $4,000 from an owner who rarely drove it and instead needed an electric golf cart to spin around the campground, I treated the car with due respect. The car winters in the garage, never experiences precipitation and cruises only in the fairest weather.
It’s a driver, to be certain. The air conditioning doesn’t work. Heat comes ambient when you get that 500 cu V8 chugging long enough. The horn had to be rewired and sounds out when you push a button not far from the emergency brake release, which right now is a wrench clenching the release wire. Two screws at the front of the hood tell me bullhorns once graced this machine, replaced by a classic Cadillac hood ornament of the era once it left Texas.
The remote-controlled convertible top is all manual, which is the true point of the story. As an early Christmas present, my wife, Allison, was determined to give me the working convertible I wanted. She found a knowledgeable mechanic to unlock the canvas top and lower the massive contraption for full effect. She then drove 15 miles of four-lane Connecticut highway on a cold, cloudy December day (wind chill unknown but numbingly low) to our house, all 5-feet-2 of her commandeering this 18.5-foot, 4,800-pound behemoth of past American luxury, just to pull into the driveway with the top down before I got home. I was stunned in so many ways. And on Christmas morning, I unwrapped the fuzzy dice from Allison that dangle from the rearview mirror. Our young sons marvel at that beautiful beast of a car.
The love I’m talking about, of course, has everything to do with the woman who drove the Cadillac – a woman endlessly patient with a car that takes up way too much room in the garage, and the man who’s picky about when he drives it.