Everyone seemed to like the photo that was recently posted of the 1958 Cadillac Sixty Special at the Edsel Ford mansion in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. I selected that photo because the featured car is in some ways similar to a Cadillac that I purchased on eBay in 2018, and Paul suggested that I do a post on my recent acquisition.
If you saw my last two CC posts, you know that I do a lot of “fantasy shopping” on eBay and Craigslist–that is, searching for car models of interest and imagining how I would fix them up and get them looking and driving great. Like Paul, I’m big on originality and patina. I want to make a car look and run as well as possible, but without “over-restoring” or spending a whole lot of money. I especially like one-family owned, unmolested, what I call “honest” cars from the mid-’50s to the early ’60s. What I (and writer John Jerome) call the “Golden Era”.
Well, two years ago the fantasy became reality and I bought a car–for real! This 1958 Cadillac 62 sedan was listed on eBay for a couple of months. It kept getting re-listed and the price kept dropping–from $24,000 to $16,500 to $12,900. Also, it was located in Bloomfield, New Jersey, which is only 25 miles from where I live. So I had to go take a look . . .
It was in better condition and drove nicer than the black ’58 Cadillac I’ve had since 1995. And my Caddy had 133,000 miles while this two-toned gray one had only 79,000! I purchased the car, and sold my black one for $10,000. So the upgrade only cost me three grand.
Now I don’t know where this car has been for the last six decades, but whoever has been taking care of it did a very good job! This Caddy also has a lot of original characteristics that have been lost on most cars of this vintage:
It also has the correct dual exhaust system with two mufflers and two resonators (most people don’t bother replacing resonators). And there’s this:
Yes, under the hood of every new ’58 Cadillac was a place to insert this special card: the name of the dealer and the original owner were typed out on a manual typewriter–and the card’s still there!
So of course I had to Google the address:
But who was (or is) Mrs. Helen R. Fisher? From what I’ve been able to find out, she was from the family that owned Fisher Foods, a large grocery chain in Ohio. That’s all I know at this point.
Or do I know more? A vintage car from this period can tell us something about the original owner who purchased it from the dealer. These were the days when buyers custom-ordered their cars, choosing from a variety of models, colors, and options. So something of the buyer’s needs, wants, and personality shines through.
Cheviot Gray over Prestwick Gray . . . that’s an interesting choice. A solid gray– that might be too severe. But the light, silvery Cheviot over Prestwick? Hmmm . . . Artistic, but still very conservative. Mrs. Fisher also selected power windows, power seats, and the Autronic Eye.
I want to finish by talking about the driving experience, because I think that many readers who have not driven a car like this are curious about what it’s like. Well, it’s very smooth, quiet, and has decent power. It has bias ply tires, so I have to do a little more steering correction on the interstate than I’d like, but on the “blue highways” and local roads it does just fine. The 4-speed Hydra-Matic shifts almost imperceptibly. This is a car that wants to cruuuuuise. A 129.5″ wheelbase and 4800 lbs. of weight give you real stability. Cornering is good, but you don’t dart around in it; you feel the ideal speed it wants to go and enjoy the ride. On smooth or almost-smooth roads, it glides.
You can also feel the “Cadillac quality” in the way the doors close with a solid click, and the fine workmanship of the dashboard and interior fittings. Visibility through the wrap-around windshield is outstanding. That “Body by Fisher” advertising slogan promoted by GM I think really had some meaning.
So, Mrs. Helen R. Fisher, wherever you are, I want to assure you that the Cadillac you knew so well is still snugly garaged and cruising the highways and byways, in of all places, New Jersey!