Ron Will worked at GM Design Staff and lived across the street from me when I first worked at GM in 1973. At the time he had two 1960 Cadillacs, a convertible and a hearse. Down in Detroit somewhere next to a cemetery (where else?) was a fenced-in lot with half a dozen or more Cadillac limos just parked there in various states of decay.
One man’s car collection. The Limo graveyard.
They belonged to a florist across the street that bought them from funeral homes and would use them to deliver flowers until something broke. Then he’s just park it and go get another one. Ron knew about these cars, and talked me into buying a 1960 Fleetwood 75 for $175. The only catch was there was no way of knowing what was wrong with it. I bought it anyway.
Myself and Ron Will. Ron looks pretty excited. I don’t look so confident. There were other limos in the “collection” that looked like they were in better condition than the ’60, but it had to be the ’60 because of its more pure design.
One Saturday we went down to fetch the thing. It was stuck in the muck pretty good so we had to jack it up, take the wheels off and fill them with air and hope they held. We got the car up on its wheels and up on his dolly where we towed it home behind his ’60 convertible. On the way back we stopped right in front of the GM Tech Center main gate, back to its spawning grounds, for photos.
The caravan in front of the main gate at the GM Tech Center.
The car was absolutely huge. One of the windows hadn’t been closed completely, and as a result the back seat was pretty brittle after being exposed to the weather for 12 years or so. There was a family of mice living under the back seat. It didn’t take too much to get it started, and after working the power windows and seats for a while eventually everything started working again. The only thing wrong with the car, apart from some minor body damage, turned out to be broken rear shock mount.
The divider window also eventually worked. There was an AM mono radio mounted in the normal position in the instrument panel with a second set of overriding controls in the back. There was also a second air conditioner behind the back seat.
Shortly after I bought the car the gas crisis of 1974 hit. That and the fact that the car was just to huge for words motivated me to post a for sale sign on the Design Staff bulletin board. I remember advertising it for like 65¢ a pound or something like that. A fellow from the trim shop bought the car to restore. Seemed reasonable to me. He had plenty of interior to trim.
New tires, battery, rebuilt carburetor, repaired shock mount, brake work, coil, wires, etc. The limo was now road worthy. I think it had a 425 CID V8 with a single Carter 4-barrel and a 4-speed automatic. To have the car now would be cooler than cool.