Growing up in the early '80s on a farm in Iowa, Robert Gallery knew the value of keeping engines running. He used to help his dad out when they'd swap motors in some of the cars they had on the farm, including a few '70s-era Thunderbirds and LTDs. With a little more than 100 people in his hometown of Masonville (30 miles outside of Cedar Rapids), having a car to drive to school and knowing how to keep it running were of major importance.

After college and still in his early twenties, Robert left Iowa and was soon on his way to Dublin, California. As destiny began to shine its light on the young man, he began expanding his car collection-first with a pair of '66 Lincoln Continentals. He'd always liked the luxurious look of the T-birds and LTDs from his past, but Robert appreciated the lines of mid-'50s Cadillacs, too, and felt there was nothing with more class than one of those big, old Coupe De Villes.

Robert mentioned to his friend, Darrell Hayes of Darrell Hayes Concepts, that he was looking for a suitable car to build, and then Hayes mentioned it to Marcos Garcia of Lucky 7 Customs, with whom he worked on a couple of projects. Lucky 7 Customs is well known for its custom car building abilities and stunning paintjobs.

Garcia happened to know where a stock Series 62 '54 Cad was sitting in a nearby engine shop where it had been dropped off for some work but never picked up. After a few years the shop had put a lien on the car and wanted it out of their way, and had it up for sale. Robert was able to purchase the Cad for the price of the rebuilt engine and transmission and two years of storage fees-a pretty good deal considering the car was basically in good shape except for just a few dings here and there.

For car builders who are in business, the truly successful ones are those who listen to what their customers want and figure out a way to get it to them without breaking the bank (theirs or their customer's). Some of the initial ideas for this Caddy were to chop the top, shave most of the bumps (leaving some of the original trim intact for flavor), and add some custom touches that would look like they belonged on the car.

Lucky 7 started on the project by chopping the roof (2 1/2 inches up front and 4 inches in the rear) and then leaning the rear window forward for a sleeker appearance. The trim on the hood was removed and the corners rounded, and the same treatment was done on the trunk and doors. The cowl, fender seams, and rockers were all molded to make the car look slippery, and the drip rails were restyled to accent the custom quarter-window roof rail trim.

The grill is also custom made, which uses horizontally mounted aluminum blades that were then chromed. Opting for keyless entry, electronic door poppers have been installed, the door handles shaved, and the door spear shortened 18 inches. And though it might look like factory trim pieces, the belt line trim that runs the length of the door tops and quarters were custom made from brass and then plated.

On other sections of the car more trim was removed, but other custom pieces, such as the speed bump humps on the forward area of the quarter-panels, were added because it helped break up the large expanse of metal. Another area that received a good amount of attention is the rear bumper, which uses ends from a '57 Chevy, allowing functional exhaust tips to run through the bumpers. It takes an enormous amount of knowledge to figure out how parts from different cars can work together to not only look right but also make it appear like it was meant to be there. That's one of the reasons Lucky 7 Customs enjoys the exalted reputation that it does.