Author Topic: 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille - Restoration progress (Lots of images)  (Read 317 times)

Offline lorenzo2013

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  • Name: L Fife
Been wanting to do this for a while, but thought I could use this as a thread to detail the restoration process of my 1959 Cadillac.  I'll eventually have this documented in detail with every 'nuance' and tip for someone attempting to do it, but for now just a few photos and brief descriptions.  I'll edit this thread in the future as additional progress is made.  I've taken HUNDREDS of photos of the process, with the intention of being able to help someone in the future that might need help with anything.  All the way down to the type, length, and qty of bolts/nuts used throughout the car. 

Purchased the car in December 2016 - found it on craigslist, and after having looked at a half dozen 59 cadillacs (including one as far as in Vancouver), I decided on this car.  Straight body, and an AC car.  Body was straight, and glass intact with no cracks or other major issues.  Minor rust in some areas, but in excellent condition despite the age.

Biggest issues the car had was someone had tried to convert it to a 'hotrod'.  Painted it 'matte' black, and did a shoddy job of it.  Was clear that the trim was not removed prior to painting, as there was overspray on trim in several areas.  The exhaust was also aftermarket - routing both exhaust pipes out the sides of the car behind the back wheels instead of straight out the back.  Minor issue, as I figured I could resolve easily enough.

Bought the car, and had it transferred down South (a 1500 mile trip).  Arrived in great condition (I had the previous owner oversee the loading of the car on the trailer).  I'd also requested that there not be any unloads until it arrived at its destination, so I could oversee its unloading.  Watched them unload the car, and apparently they didn't notice the front passenger wheel run off the ramp.  The car fell, resting on the front right bumper, with the wheel 2" from the ground.  Long story, but I inspected the car and there didn't seem to be any mechanical damage, and no cosmetic damage other than the lower front passenger bumper bent slightly up.  You can see in subsequent pictures.  They had insurance, but the damage didn't justify filling a claim, which would have resulted in them having to load the car back up, and who knows what condition it would have been in the next time I saw it.  I bit the bullet, and against my better judgement, just went with it in the condition it was in.  My thoughts were when removing the bumper I could straighten any pieces then - there didn't seem to be any damage.

I couldn't resist driving it around the first day I had it.  In the below image you can see the shoddy paint work along the drivers side of the car.  Body is straight, but the paint is horrible.  You can also see how the lower bumper, passenger side is facing 'up' slightly more than the driver side.  Something that most wouldn't likely notice, but since I knew how it happened, it's the first thing I noticed.  Decided it would be resolved when I remove the bumpers for chrome plating.

You don't realize how long these cars are until you park them next to 'modern' cars.  I love this photo, as there's a level of class and style to these cars.  Look at the lines of the roof and the fins.  Incredible.

Brakes were almost non-existent without pressing with both feet.  I had to be extremely cautious driving it, and was overly careful not to put myself in a position where I might hit someone or something.  Turned out I needed to replace the brake booster, and rather than go with an original, I replaced the master cylinder too, with a dual piston.

I had rented a storage unit for the restoration of the car, so I could have all the parts dedicated to the car, and to ensure nothing went missing or was misplaced.  In hindsight, this was the best decision I made.  It made it super-easy to document the disassembly.

All parts documented, smaller pieces put in ziplock bags, numbered to ensure I knew where they went, etc.

Many late nights spent removing parts of the car's exterior trim, seats, etc.

Time to go to the body shop to get some MINOR rust remediated, prepped for paint, and then full paint.

Note the passenger side front door trim.  I couldn't remove this, and the angle inside the storage didn't allow for me to open the door wide enough to access it.  The shop said they'd be able to remove it for me.  This was the only trim on the car that remained.

The shop was supposed to have the work done in 2-3 weeks.  After numerous excuses, and almost 4 months later, I went to view the progress, and was horrified to find the car in much the same condition as when I left it, if not worse.  The hood and trunk had been removed, and painted in primer, but even then - a horrible job.  Not properly prepped, and left out in the hot Texas sun.  I couldn't believe it.  Note the shoddy way the glass, engine, and other parts were taped up.

Immediately I arranged for a tow truck to come take the car back to its storage until I could find another shop to start working on it.

The car after picking it up from the shop:

A few days later, back on the tow truck on its way to shop#2

Although the 4 months set back the restoration significantly, it was not a total loss.  First, I'm glad the car ended back up in my possession, as I've heard enough horror stories of cars being sold off by crooked shops.  And although I still need to likely sue to get the funds paid (50% down) to the first individual back, I was not out a significant amount.  Although the individual had done good work, it reiterated to me that you 'get what you pay for'.  Should have seen all the red flags, so shame on me.

Second, the four month delay allowed me to get all the chrome work done, other pieces polished, and so forth.  All in all I ended up getting both front and rear bumpers rechromed in their entirety (the right way - triple plated, and although the car will never be a show car, the chrome is absolutely show quality).  I also chromed the rear 'bullets' directly behind the tail lights.  Not original, but I've always liked the way this looked, and I feel it adds continuity to the body lines.  The fins (taillight housing), gun sights, several hood trim components, trunk trim, vent windows, and a few other misc. pieces.  Note some of the before/photos below:

I still have to paint the inside of the bumpers with a rust prohibitive paint, but the chrome looks outstanding - very happy with it.

That takes us to present day, as of 7/31/17.  The car is in the second shop and has been for about two weeks now.  I visited it a few days ago, and it's apparently progress has been made.  Including (most noticeably) both the front and rear glass removed, so the body can be prepped 'right'

Hood is primered.

That brings us up to date.  I'll post more photos soon.  I have been building a collection of trim ready to get put back on the car, but as soon as the car comes back from paint it's going to go to the upholsterer to get the seats and interior redone.  I don't anticipate it will take more than 2-3 weeks to put all the trim and 'jewelry' back on the car.  It's too hot in Texas to do this now anyway, so hopefully by October sometime I'll be able to get back to it.

Offline Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

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  • Name: Eric DeVirgilis
Re: 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille - Restoration progress (Lots of images)
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2017, 04:40:48 PM »
Looking good so far. Keep up the good work!
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for Which There is no Acceptable Substitute

Offline blugg

  • Posts: 106
  • Name: Jeff Herson
Re: 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille - Restoration progress (Lots of images)
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 03:48:15 AM »
Awesome read and progress.    Had some questions on trim disassembly if I may.   Can be offline

Jeff Herson