LABOUR OF LOVE

New Zealand Classic Car - - PRICE ON -

Bruce Haye from Ace Panel and Paint in Whi­tianga pur­chased this 1962 Cadil­lac Coupe de Ville from the orig­i­nal im­porter of the car, who had rolled it down his drive­way and crashed it into a mas­sive rock. Af­ter as­sess­ing the dam­age, Bruce pro­vided the owner with a price to re­pair the car, but, as it was out­side their bud­get to carry out the nec­es­sary re­pairs, they of­fered the car to Bruce.

A 1962 Cadil­lac wasn’t re­ally Bruce’s cup of tea, but he thought, what the hell, and bought the car any­way and pro­ceeded to re­store it.

Af­ter com­pletely strip­ping the paint and body filler out of the car, what was left was in­deed daunt­ing. The car looked as if it had been driven down a nar­row al­ley­way — the mid­dle swage down the side of the car was non-ex­is­tent, as it had been com­pletely filled with body filler. Then there were the usual Amer­i­can quick-fix re­pair jobs to con­tend with; these ‘fixes’ in­cluded drilling holes and us­ing a slide ham­mer to pull the dents out through them.

Bruce also dis­cov­ered that the orig­i­nal 390ci (6.4-litre) V8 en­gine had seen bet­ter days, and won­dered how it even ran at all. A closer in­spec­tion re­vealed one miss­ing cam lobe and mas­sive lips on the bores, which meant that the en­gine would need to be to­tally re­built.

Bruce de­cided it was best to re­tire the old Caddy mo­tor to the back of the work­shop and fit a Chevro­let 454ci (7.4-litre) en­gine in its place. He was ini­tially con­cerned about the fuel con­sump­tion, but he needn’t have wor­ried, be­cause the high gear­ing in the dif­fer­en­tial re­sulted in rea­son­able econ­omy, much the same as his old petrol-pow­ered Mazda B2600 ute.

The Cadil­lac’s restora­tion has taken about three years of hard labour, ac­cord­ing to Bruce. He’s ac­tu­ally lost count of the hours taken to ham­mer out the swage lines down the side of the car. For­tu­nately, there wasn’t a lot of rust to con­tend with, which would have made the restora­tion non vi­able for Bruce, as he was do­ing all the re­pairs him­self. Choos­ing the colour was quite a time-con­sum­ing process, but even­tu­ally he chose a cus­tom-made gold from Sikkens that doesn’t look mus­tard or green from dif­fer­ent an­gles.

The fi­nal re­sult is a com­fort­able car that Bruce en­joys driv­ing — and it per­forms sur­pris­ingly well for a car al­most 6m long.

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