Author Topic: Is there any way to tell a true low mileage car, other than "documentation"?  (Read 1231 times)

Offline chrisntam

  • Posts: 3472
  • Dallas, Texas
  • CLC Number: 29206
  • Name: Chris Jessen
Lots of '70s caddys for sale on eBay recently touting 60k to 70k "original" miles. 

Any way to confirm that other than receipts of work showing mileage through the years?

I know my 15 yr old 112k Avalanche is really clean underneath.....way different than older cars and a helluva lot cleaner.  But I'm in Dallas....

Your thoughts?
1970 Deville Convertible 
Dallas, Texas

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
In order to get a gauge on true miles documentation is very important but sometimes there is none.
You have to rely on your senses.  There's a certain smell of a true low mileage Cadillac interior.  I have encountered it with at least 6 or 7 true low mileage Cadillac that I have owned.  Just by cleaning a car and going through it I found out that a 76 Seville I bought was truly a 24,000 car, not 124,000 like the dealer I bought it from thought.  I verified it by tracking down a dealer mechanic that worked on the car.

If you look at the underside of the car, there are things that get wear in 65,000 miles and make it difficult to know if it's 65,000 or maybe 95,000.  Odometer roll backs were common when these were late model used cars too.

Pedal wear, the edge of the seat, the carpet, the sill plates, other interior details are the best indicator.

Sometimes a repaint is very obvious, sometimes it's not.

Every car is an individual and needs to be examined closely to figure out if the story matches the car.

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

STS05lg

  • Guest
Chris,

Everything Brian said is true. There is a number of low mileage cars out there and a lot that pretend to be and everyone stands on its own. A lot depends on the owner, when I lived in Dallas I purchased a number of relative low mileage cars in North Dallas. I purcased three different cars out of the neighborhoods along Hillcrest and along Meandering Way.  The owners just parked their Cadillacs when they got a new one. Also, sometimes I would go to Swell Cadillac on Lemon Avenue ask a services adviser to check for maintenance records on a car that an estate was selling. If it had a Swell trunk tag. I found it to be true in a lot of cases that Cadillac owners in Dallas always took their cars to the dealer for service, especially in the 1970's.

If you have no history or if the car is not local as Brian said, pedal ware is a sure sign that the mileage could have rolled over, likewise look in the engine compartment for items that typically are not replaced in a low mileage car like the wind shield washer bottle, overflow tank, also heater return hose with the original tower clamps, rubber stops at the edge of the hood. Likewise has the jack and spare been out of the car or are they still a GR78-15...

One additional though, I have seen more photo shopped cars on e=bay and i ever imagined. Typically individual sellers don't have skills or soft ware to "paint" the pictures. However, be weary of any car that looks to good. 1970's Cadillac are great cars that that have there issues with plastic trim that is impossible to find but they are great cars....

Good Luck,

Lynn

Offline Scot Minesinger

  • Posts: 6004
Both posts good indicators.  Another that I notice is how do the doors close, especially a two door. 

Not any one thing is proof positive, for example my brake pedal is no indication of 130k miles.  This is because I replaced it with low wear break pedal and drive in bare feet much of the time (slip off the flip flop as not a good shoe to drive in).  You have to look at everything and make an evaluation.  The other issue, is wow is it easy to change a speedometer, so the odometer is not very reliable of an indicator of mileage of a 1970 Cadillac. 

It is not too difficult to distinguish between a 60k and 160k mile car, and if it is, well that 160k mile car was well maintained.  It is the 90k mile car that had the odometer changed to 45k miles that is more of an issue.

Bottom line, everything is about condition.
Fairfax Station, VA  22039 (Washington DC Sub)
1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1970 four door Convertible w/Cadillac Warranty

Offline Jeepers Creepers

  • Posts: 305
  • Name: Jeepers Creepers.
Our 64 Fleetwood we bought last year was a 120,000 mile California car and the underneath looked way too clean for those miles.
It depends on a lot of variables, type of use, climate etc.

Couple of shots to show what I mean.







The last shot, to be fair, I did whip it over with a damp rag.

She's a 53 year old with the under bum of a 18 year old.  :P

One good giveaway, was the faded wood on the front door trims. (Original carpets too)



Compared to the rears.



I've nearly got the fronts back to "close to the rears" with some wood polish.

The front and rear seats give no clue to the true mileage, yet the marks around the ignition lock are a good giveaway.





I've been asked many times if the mileage was a genuine 20,000, but always point out the correct answer.

 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 12:31:18 AM by Jeepers Creepers »
Kevin and Astrid Campbell
Australia

Offline David Greenburg

  • CLC #3830
  • Posts: 1997
  • CLC Number: 3830
  • Name: David Greenburg
These are all good points.  But very low mileage is not necessarily the be all and end all.  It really depends on how the car was cared for, especially if the car was stored for a long time.  I'd much rather have an 85,000 mile car that was well maintained than the same car with 20,000 miles that was stored improperly.  The latter could need practically a full restoration to recover from the damage. An extreme example is the lot of no mileage Chevys auctioned off a few years ago. Most were a complete mess.
David Greenburg
'60 Eldorado Seville
'61 Fleetwood Sixty Special

Offline manxie

  • Posts: 60
  • Name: Steve Ward
I`m with you on that David.

I don`t believe you can tell if it`s true mileage down to the smell or if the doors line up, or if the seat is worn? surely this all depends on how or where the car has lived all it`s life? You may have a situation where the seat gets scuffed through 10,000 miles worth of wearing studded jeans, you may end up with smelly rotten carpet because the car leaks a little and stored outside? These cars are 40 - 50 yrs old now, unless it`s been in storage most of it`s life, things will be wrong. I`m nearly 50 yrs old, worn out, even sometimes smelly  ;D

I think you have to buy a car for what it is and if you like it. A well used car is a better purchase than a car that`s been sat in storage for 25yrs. (this is just my opinion)

Good luck,  ;)
78 Eldorado Biarritz Custom Classic

Offline 76eldo

  • Posts: 6651
  • CLC Number: 22443
  • Name: Brian Rachlin
My 60 convert is almost at 100,000 miles.  Runs perfectly and has never been apart.  The fact that it has never been apart for restoration and has one repaint on it is a plus.  There are no rattles or squeaks on the car.

My 76 Eldo is also close to 100,000 miles.  I would not trade it for any other 76 Eldo no matter what the clock reads.

Both cars were maintained very well early in their lives and only had a couple of owners.  The number of owners is important because the first or second owner will keep the car in good condition.  When these cars hit the point where they are at their lowest value point at about 20 years (think 1997 model year currently) they sometimes fall into the hands of people that think maintaining the car is taking it to Goober at the Filling station or even Pep Boys when it stops running.

Every one of these cars is it's own case.  There are more low mileage Cadillacs around because many of them are bought by older buyers that didn't drive them very much.  That's great for us!

Scott makes a good point about worn door bushings on the hinges.  If you do the math it's hard to wear out the door hinge if the car isn't driven much.

Brian
Brian Rachlin
Huntingdon Valley, Pa
CLC # 22443
I prefer email's not PM's rachlin@comcast.net

1960 62 Series Conv with Factory Tri Power
1970 DeVille Conv
1970 Eldo
1970 Caribu (?) "The Cadmino"
1973 Eldorado Conv Pace Car
1976 Eldorado Conv
1980 Eldorado H & E Conv
1993 Allante with Hardtop (X2)
2008 DTS
2012 CTS Coupe
2017 XT
1956 Thunderbird
1966 Olds Toronado

Offline Art Gardner CLC 23021

  • Posts: 1604
  • Name: Art Gardner
Lots of little clues to add up.  Look for factory finishes on drivetrain parts all over the car.  Look for correct fasteners, clips and clamps.  Look for somewhat faded, not new, interior fabrics -- Cadillacs have distinctive fabrics and a low mileage car will usually still have the original fabric.  How well do the doors close? -- a car with lots of miles will have worn hinges and latches.  Look at the antisway bar bushings -- they should look old, but not be wallered out.  Stuff like that. 

Another thing to check is the size and density of a metallic paint.  Over the years, the amount and size of the metal flakes in "poly" and metallic paints changed.  In the 40s, a poly paint had very small metallic bits and not much of that.  By the 60s, the metallic bits are much more numerous.  Today's paints have a lot of metallic and the bits are bigger.  Very few repaints look period-correct vis a vis metallic content...
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan (now under resto)
1955 S62 Coupe (future show car? 2/3 done)
1949 S60 Fleetwood sedan (restored 30+ yrs ago)
1958 Eldo Seville (2/3 done)

Offline wrefakis

  • Posts: 805
between "believed to be" and miles exempt titles at this point true low verified mileage cars are very rare

back in the day I owned more of them than anyone all documented and with original non reproduced tires, but these were 20 year old and in some case 12-15 year old cars

now at 50 with much of the owner history lost its quite difficult to prove mileage, hence "believed to be" is the new description at auctions

true low mile cars still turn up, bought a 67 DVC last year one owner every document from new including every inspection with miles recorded still wearing 1980 expiration sicker

68 sedan one owner 7800 miles original tires all paperwork one family

70 Fleetwood used for touring the USA in 70-71, then only out for service still on new car dealer inspection from 1970 purchased from family friend who know all the family members from new

harder to find but special, most of these true low mile originals will have ownership history you can trace, if not you should treat as miles exempt to be safe

Offline bcroe

  • Posts: 3895
I have my own rules, the exact opposite of recommendations for buying
a used car.  I look for the cleanest body possible, I am no body man.  Anything
mechanical I can fix with little cost.  A blown transmission got me a nice car
for a song, good.  I was going to put my own rebuilt trans in it regardless,
which I did over the weekend.  Bruce Roe

Bill Young

  • Guest
In my case I have been around Cadillac's since the 60's because I have Loved them since I was about 7 and I am 62 now. I have personally owned 31 Cadillac's ranging from 1955's thru 1990 Broughams. If I can personally crawl over a Cadillac of this vintage I can usually be scary as to how well I can spot a well cared for low mileage Cadillac that was serviced by people who understand Fisher/Fleetwood building practice and don't mess it up. That said , I personally own a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Convertible with 99,500 miles on it and given that I LOVE to drive these cars wheels off I would rather have my car that is repainted , and interior re trimmed and all mechanical systems replaced or rebuilt than a lower mileage car that driving and enjoying will devalue and wear it out.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 09:37:54 PM by Bill Young »

 

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