The Best About 65 Cadillac Part 2

Frank kept tinkering on the Cad in his spare time, and one thing eventually led to another. He installed air springs, relocated the front shock mounts, C-notched the frame, and even raised the driveshaft tunnel, all so the massive 20×8.5- and 20×10-inch Intro wheels and Nitto tires would tuck up tight and put the frame on the pavement.

“Now the paint started to bother me,” Frank says, referring to some lacquer checking on the hood and deck. “I painted my Chevelle, so I thought I knew what I was in for. I really didn’t realize how much molding was on this car!” He discovered some minor rust after stripping the car down, so with the welder out for repairs, he proceeded to shave the door handles, hood, and deck, and fill holes in the core support and inner fenders. After countless hours block-sanding the 19ft body, Frank converted his two-car garage into a temporary paint booth and sprayed the custom-mix PPG blue basecoat/clearcoat finish himself.

Moving inside, Frank tore apart the dash, fit new Auto Meter instruments in the stock cluster, and had Red Line Gauge Works reface the gauges to match the car. He also removed the stock radio and ignition switch, made a trim piece to fill the voids, and mounted the new ignition switch and Eclipse head unit/DVD player behind the retractable ashtray door.

Audio Concepts in Simi Valley handled the stereoinstallation, mounting Diamond Audio component speakers in custom kick panels and building trunk enclosures for the Diamond Audio amps, 10-inch subwoofers, and Eclipse eight-disc CD changer. Scosche sound dampening materials and connectors were used throughout. Meanwhile, Doobies Upholstery laid down new carpet and recovered the dash and door tops; the rest of the original upholstery was good enough to keep. “The last big modification was a disc brake conversion,” Frank says. “My friend Dustin Burr at Wilwood helped figure out how to run 13-inch rotors up front. This wasn’t an easy task.” Six-piston calipers were mounted on custom brackets, while Bent Custom & Performance routed new hard lines to the Wilwood aluminum master cylinder.

When finished, Frank’s Cad had become the quintessential SoCal convertible–low, long, and cool, with just a dash of flash. He wasn’t the only one who thought so, as a local NBA player recently stepped up to buy the car, leaving Frank to ponder his next project. Will it be another ’60s mild custom? We sure hope so.

The Best About 65 Cadillac Part 1

Take Frank Stevens, for instance. The 37-year-old toyed with VWs in the ’80s (he’s still working on a radical notchback), had a ’69 Blazer on the cover of Off Road in the early ’90s, and built a smooth ’70 Chevelle that made the cover of Popular Hot Rodding in 2001. His latest project, this slammed ’65 Cadillac ‘vert, came about almost by chance.

“I wasn’t looking for another car,” Frank says. “I still owned my Chevelle. My friend Rick McClure and I were driving home from the Pomona Swap Meet when he mentioned that a mutual friend had an old Caddy for sale. The next day we went to look at it, and the next thing I knew, I bought it!”

The clean Cad already had a rebuilt 429ci engine and only minor wear on the paint and upholstery. Still, Frank wasn’t certain why he’d bought it. At the time he was working with well-known street machine builder Steve Strope at Pure Vision in Simi Valley, California, and the car just didn’t seem to fit in. “I actually took it back to the Pomona Swap Meet to try and sell it,” Frank admits. “A few weeks later I came across a set of 20-inch wheels and put them on. Now the car looked pretty cool, but it was stock height. So I cut two coils out of it–now it was really cool!”