Thank you Mr Tarantino.

Looking at the 1960’s, some of the most impressive cars from the GM stable in my opinion are the 1966 to 1968 Buick and Cadillac high end coupe’s. And by that I mean the respective Riviera and Eldorado models. GM’s mission to emulate a European-style full-size luxury grand touring coupe was an exciting design challenge which I believe was executed with sheer brilliance under the Direction of Bill Mitchell. These two model years are just incredible to look at from every angle, but the 67/68 Eldorado, in my opinion, is truly exceptional. I think this is actually one of the sharpest looking cars of all time, with it’s razor edge body-panels, elaborate bumper design, blade-like tail lights and concealed headlights. The sleek look was enhanced with a low-slung floor pan that was only possible with the new front-wheel drive configuration that debuted in 67. The drive is fabulous thanks to front torsion bars and self-levelling air suspension, and being the flagship Cadillac offering, the appointments were simply the last word in luxury without any of the pomposity and stuffiness of a Rolls. This really is the epitome of late Sixties American luxury motoring.

Hence, for years I’ve been looking for a high quality original 67-68 Eldorado, but without much luck. I’ve evaluated dozens and dozens but these models really seem to have suffered an unfair amount of deterioration. Most seem to have rusted out over time, those beautiful elaborate bumpers are never straight and some many of the interiors have all but disintegrated. One particular example that comes to mind was a ‘real honest original’ that had been hidden away in Chino CA for 30 years. It didn’t look too promising at first sight, but as I opened the driver’s door the whole thing came away from the body in my hand, complete with the hinges, as the A-pillar was so corroded the door simply detached itself from the body. And that’s one leviathan of a door I can tell you. Suddenly I’m desperately trying to avoid a broken left foot as it crashes to the ground whilst simultaneously passifying the perplexed vendor with my unappreciated English sarcasm “I think it might take both of us to close it.” Oh well, the search continues!

Three days later I’m in Downtown LA getting some petrol just off the 101 and Sunset when I overhear a guy begging for money and angrily cursing the hand he’s been dealt in life. “Some darn student at the College here even got a gold-plated Cadillac. I mean, fucking Gold-plated man. I swear to God. It’s even got them invisible headlights.” Attention gained. Could this be a 67 or 68 Eldorado? These are the only Cadillac years with hidden or fold-away headlamps. Just maybe? This could be a wild goose-chase of course, but Emmerson College is just down the street on Sunset Boulevard, so as far as I’m concerned, the game is on!

I ask a few students but nobody has heard of such a car, or peer with such a car. Who could ever afford that?! Am I crazy?! …is the usual response. Maybe the guy in the gas station was out of his mind on drugs or something. Hmm. I walk around the College campus and there’s an underground parking structure. I jump the security barrier and head down the ramp to peer through the roll down gate. It’s dark, no gold Cadillac, but there is a security guard stood right behind me with his hand on his gun looking deadly serious. I explain that I’ve come to look at the gold Cadillac that a Gentleman is selling on the internet, hoping that he will give me an easy ride when he hears my English accent and realises I’m from the UK and I don’t know the rules around here. “You’re not allowed in here without authorisation Sir” he replies. I explain that the owner told me to meet him here, but he’s not showed up. “Is the gold Cadillac down here?” I ask. I explain it’s an older one. “Yeah, there’s an old car down there, but I think it’s a Chevy or maybe an Oldsmobile, but you have to speak to the owner. He runs the café upstairs”. Result.

Enter George, investor and proprietor of ‘Homeward Ground’ chain of coffee shops. He’d bought a gold Cadillac from a collector in Palm Springs with the intention of hiring it out to the studios and making some money. It was a 68 Eldorado, immediately distinguishable from the previous year by the addition of front fender lamps where steel body-coloured inserts had been, almost looking like an after-thought. It was a California car from day one that had spent many years in New Mexico too, so the body was rust free, a real beauty. Finished in Metallic Topaz Gold Firemist it was clearly not gold plated to sober eyes! George had got one job with it, but couldn’t remember what the movie was called. “They messed the car up a bit and ripped the front tyre off” he told me. “Since then it’s sat downstairs in the parking lot for a year and the management are on my back to get it moved so it I need to sell it”. “And it doesn’t run”.

I agree to buy the car at a price, but only if I can get it running. This is one of the first front-wheel drive Eldorado’s, so I need to evaluate the engine and take it out for a drive and make sure the transmission and drive-shafts are ok. This is the fun part when I get the bit between my teeth and get my engineering head on. I immediately notice someone has been messing about with this car; there are vacuum hoses disconnected; the firing-order is wrong as spark-plug leads have been disconnected and then reconnected incorrectly; the air cleaner is tipped to one side and there’s a woodworking file lying across the inlet manifold for some unknown reason. I mess about for 10 minutes and get the car cranked over. It fires up. George is amazed that the car is running…. “How did you do that?! She runs beautiful doesn’t she?” He’s a great guy but clearly knows nothing about engines. I tell him it runs like a No.10 London bus but my sarcasm goes completely over his head. This is typical of a Cadillac that has stood, there are a couple of cylinders not firing because it has several deflated hydraulic valve lifters that are going to take a while to blow up…the only thing that is needed is here is patience and knowledge. I’ve seen this so many times and people think I’m some kind of magician. I’ll bet my last penny this engine will be sweet on 8 cylinders soon…I’ve never come across a bad 472ci Caddy motor, they were absolutely burst proof. I’ll just let it sit for 10-15 minutes at idle, let the oil warm up and the viscosity thin out. And… Magic! The compressions are all good and the motor sounds sweet like a jet engine now! Wow! I quickly clean an inch off dust off the windshield and swap the front tyre for the spare. I jump into the car and drop it into Reverse to get out of the parking bay but when I hit ‘D’ Drive but the torque converter in the transmission won’t pick up the fluid. Uh oh, I’m going to have to nurse this Caddy a little more. A few more minutes selecting the gears back and forth and ‘bump’ …we’ve got hydraulic pressure in the transmission and here we go! As I drive out of the parking structure the security guard hollows “you drive that car out of here it doesn’t come back in do you here me?” As I pull out of the side-street and turn onto Sunset Boulevard, George is sat on the passenger side and points to a bill board and says “That’s the movie!” He’s desperately trying his best to sell this car now so I quickly reply “It looks like some crappy B movie to me” and George sulkily agrees. In the corner of my eye I see Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio staring at down at me…… that was an ad poster for the eagerly awaited new Quentin Tarantino movie ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’!! Whether George was telling fibs or was slightly confused, I wasn’t certain, but I’d quickly deflected the conversation in-case the price of the car suddenly went up!

The deal is done quickly and I need to get this car out of here asap. The Registration on the Caddy is expired, my rental car insurance won’t cover me and it’s 4 pm Friday afternoon so I can’t get a tow truck anywhere. I have no choice but to try and drive the Caddy back to Thousand Oaks inconspicuously. I get on the 101 Freeway North and look in the rear view mirror to see plumes of dust coming off the car mixed with smoke from oil residue burning off the exhaust. Arghh! Everyone is honking at me and hanging out of their cars…”Wow, great car buddy!” thumbs up. More honking. It’s 105F degrees and the a/c isn’t working so I get all the windows down. The traffic is walking speed and everyone wants to talk about the car, so much for keeping a low profile! But hey, this is LA…… you gotta just love it!

That weekend Valerie and went to our local cinema to see ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ with our good friends Joe and Tammy. It was a new cinema release that I really wanted to see, but I was burning with curiosity…. was the Eldorado actually in this movie? Or was it sneaky salesmanship? My curiosity was soon forgotten as we were soon immersed in a fantastic time-capsule of LA life. What a fantastic piece of cinematic art Quentin had put together here. I’d never felt that anyone had encapsulated the energy of LA so so well, maybe you have to have lived here in order to appreciate that. Quentin’s characters of Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth were brilliant and hilarious take on the entertainment business and the incorporation of the Sharon Tate story and Mansun murders was an Tarantino masterstroke. And there it was, all of a sudden, Sharon’s Sister pulls up to the house on Ceilo Drive in the 68 gold Eldorado. Great choice Quentin! A brief shot, but non the less, the most stylish late 1960’s car is most deservedly featured in a time-capsule Hollywood movie. Fabulous. For me, this was the movie of the year and well worthy of it’s international success and Oscar nominations. Bravo! But Quentin, two questions; Firstly, why were the headlamp covers open?! Great arrival close-up, but the iconic look of the Eldorado is that continuous uninterrupted headlight-less grill! Secondly, all the cars in the movie featured non-period license plates, why? We all know Quentin’s attention to detail is legendary, so I’m sure there are good reasons, but in the interests of perfection I can only say one thing…. next time Quentin, call me!

The gold 68 Eldorado was shipped to the UK and can be seen pictured in our archive section as it sat at ‘The Carding Shed’ in Holmfirth West Yorkshire. It now resides with a collector in Central London.

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