It's the typical curse of any shop owner: you can fix anything brought to you but it's hard to find the time to do the work on your own projects. We see the problem time and time again. Plumbers have leaky pipes in their home, and mechanics have cars that are running on seven cylinders instead of eight.
For those who own paint and body shops, it's sometimes hard to break away from the daily grind to grind daily on a personal project car (plus customers can never understand why you can find time to work on your own car while their car sits in the corner).
Max Gilmore, from Lake Forest, California, has always had an interest in smaller cars, and began customizing Volkswagens when he was still in his mid teens. A little later he was introduced to the world of hot rodding and fell in love with the cars of the '30s and '40s. Over the years he's owned a handful, but a few years back he thought he'd like to go the other way and go big-and we mean really big!
Cadillacs from the '60s are about as big a car as you can get and, when they're fixed up correctly, nothing else on the boulevard can come close to the eye appeal a low-slung Caddy can generate. Though a builder of cars for the past few decades, Max got more involved in the process when he became the owner of South County Auto Body five years ago. The shop, with its chassis rotisserie and custom paint capability, also features prominent So-Cal pinstriper Jeff Styles laying down the lines on street rods as well as many other types of vehicles.
So when Max found a gentleman who was thinning his herd of '60s-era Cads, he thought a big, long, black Caddy convertible would be just the car to tote his kids in back and forth to the beach. Gilmore ended up buying a '63 DeVille that was fairly complete but needed a full restoration (which was right up his shop's alley).
The idea on the build would be to keep a fair amount of the body stock, but shave the door handles and emblems while leaving some of the accent trim pieces intact. The front suspension, while mostly stock (they did add an Air Ride Technologies air bag system), was rebushed and rebuilt. Bags also made it on to the rear of the car and, when the car is set to "profile" and laid out on the ground, Max says it looks like it is a mile long.
Once the fabrication and bodywork was complete, which included having Mike Hight of Hight Fabrication (Lake Forest, CA) run the exhaust through the rear bumper, the car was rolled into South County's paint booth and sprayed with liberal coats of PPG black #1683 paint.
Road wheels were ordered up from Center Line (22-inchers) and wrapped withNitto Invo 265/30-ZR22 rubber. Chrome work (and there's a lot of chrome still left on this car) was handled by Holiday Bumper and Chrome (Mission Viejo, CA) and the convertible top, made with Haartz Stayfast cloth, was stitched up by M&I Auto Upholstery (Lake Forest, CA). M&I also is responsible for the black and white vinyl used on the seating (front and rear) as well as the Mercedes pile carpet used below. As a finishing touch to the interior, Bill Gallardo of AVN Electronics (Orange, CA) outfitted Gilmore's Caddy with a Pioneer-based sound system, which includes amplifiers, front and rear speakers, a subwoofer, and a head unit (DEN-P300018).
Power for the behemoth lurks under the large hood: a rebuilt 472 '63 Caddy V-8 that looks simple and clean in its presentation. But simple and clean is the main theme that runs throughout the 223-inch-long cruiser, and it looks like Max got exactly what he was looking for-a cool custom cruiser that looks good rolling down the highway.
The '63 472 Caddy motor was...
The '63 472 Caddy motor was rebuilt and reinstalled in the car. Other than the MagnaFlow mufflers and the powdercoated valve covers and air cleaner, the engine is stock.
Hight Fabrication ran the...
Hight Fabrication ran the exhaust through the rear bumper for an extra-clean approach before Holiday Bumper & Chrome replated the blade.
Ignacio Rodriguez and Jose...
Ignacio Rodriguez and Jose Prado of M&I Auto Upholstery (Lake Forest, CA) not only stitched up the black and white vinyl material used throughout the interior of Max's Cadillac but also made the convertible top out of Mercedes-style Haartz Stayfast material.