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CCCC San Antonio – 1955 Cadillac reunion

Thanks again Vinny for your help in putting me back together with my Grandfather’s 55 Cadillac.

In the mid to late 1960s my father had a short time job as a used car salesman at this car lot in New Jersey. One day they got in a 1955 Cadillac Series 62. My dad fell in love with the car when he saw it, but he just didn’t have any money to buy the car. A customer came in who liked the car, but the guy said he was a painter and he wanted to tear the back seat out and use the car to carry his paint and equipment. My dad couldn’t bear the thought of the car being ruined like that, so he called his father and told him about this great Caddy he had on the lot. My grandfather went to see the car and bought it on the spot. A couple years later after I was born, my parents were having a tough time financially and they needed a car for our family to travel to Phoenix, Arizona so my dad could finish his medical education. In order to help us, my grandfather gave the Caddy to my dad and my parents, my brother and I headed out west. That Caddy got many miles put on it and it always worked flawlessly as we traveled all across America in it. We would go out exploring on weekends with my dad driving as far as we could go in a day and then camp for the night, explore the local area the next morning and then head back home. My dad put a trailer hitch under the rear bumper when he managed to afford to buy a small RV that we would tow behind us on our adventures. My mom would make every meal for us and made every moment feel like we were at home. From Phoenix we moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico and the old Caddy never missed a beat. My mom drove the car everyday as our family car when my dad didn’t have the car at his work.

We moved to northern California with the car, back to Carlsbad, over to Midland, Texas and finally here to San Antonio in the fall of 1983. The whole time the 55 Caddy was flawless. In 1984 my dad was having trouble getting the carburetor running right and the car was left to sit in our driveway. Universal City gave us a notice that the car would be towed if it didn’t have a current registration, so my parents had the car towed over to an open storage lot at the intersection of Pat Booker Road and I-35. I asked my parents if I could have the car as my graduation present when I graduated college and they said yes. Between working various jobs and going to college, many years went by. I watched as this once beautiful, majestic car deteriorated as the sun and weather beat down upon it. The paint, which was refreshed when we lived in California, faded and rust holes began to appear. When the land that the storage lot was located on was sold in the early 2000’s, my parents moved the car to an indoor storage place. The car sat there waiting for me until 2008, when my Mother passed away. My Dad was in shambles and trying to get a grip on his life at the time. He and I got the idea to have the Cadillac restored, so we removed it from storage and took it to Renown Auto in Bracken. After they inspected the car, they felt it would be too expensive to restore the car as opposed to finding one that was in better shape. My dad and I were both disheartened by the prognosis and when my Dad said he no longer wanted to pay for the storage of the car, I supported him giving the title over to the body shop so they could dispose of the car.

I was crushed by the thought of losing my family car and the closest thing to a family heirloom that we had, but I felt it was the only thing we could do because I also couldn’t afford to restore the car at the time or store it anywhere. The car, a major part of my life growing up, was gone forever…or so I thought. Life goes on and since 2008 I have faired better financially and have had many classic rides. The 55 Caddy always stuck in my mind as the one that got away. Yesterday as I was researching installing a 58 Caddy air ride system on my 54 Chevy, I typed in the words “Cadillac 331 Air Ride Engine” and did a Google image search. As I scrolled through the pictures looking for a good shot of a 331 engine with an air ride compressor mounted, I saw a picture of a 55 Caddy that looked exactly like mine. I clicked on the picture and it took me to Hemmings.com and the profile page of Vinny Huckaba. I could tell immediately that this was my car as it had the same license plates on it from when I last saw it (500 BFC). I was floored! I looked frantically on Vinny’s profile for contact information and nothing was available, so I searched “Vinny Huckaba, San Antono, Texas” on Google again and up came the car club site. I wasn’t sure if this was him, so I went back to the next search result and found Vinny’s LinkedIn page. I clicked on his page and there was the same profile picture of Vinny that he had on the Hemmings.com site. I sent Vinny a contact request with my phone number and 30 minutes later Vinny sent me a text. He no longer had the car! I was starting to feel depressed when Vinny sent me the phone number of the guy he sold it to. Yes! I called the number and it was disconnected…Damn! I was headed down for the count. I asked Vinny if he had ANY other contact information for the guy and he gave me the address that he had the car towed to. Ok…here’s a little hope now. I typed the address into my GPS and headed across town to the house where he towed it to. When I pulled up in front of the house, I don’t see the car anywhere. I walked up to the door and knocked.

The door was answered by a nice lady who after I told her my story, told me that the car was there for a few months and is not there any longer. I was headed down again, until she said “my son has the car up by Fredricksburg”. I lit up again. Then she said “I can give you his number and you can call him if you wish?” Yes! I was ecstatic. As soon as I got in my truck I called him and told him my story. He told me that he had been working on the car and that he would be willing to sell it to me if I wanted it. I arranged to meet him at 4:00 PM and headed to Fredricksburg. We met at a Wal-Mart parking lot and I followed him out into the country. I was brimming with excitement and anticipation every mile we drove until we made the turn onto his property and there she was looking at me from the tall grass surrounding her. My 55 Caddy never looked so beautiful. I see past the faded paint, the rust and the general weathering. I see what she was to me all of those years. I agreed to his asking price without even negotiating and we shook hands on the deal. My Caddy was mine once again and I will never let her go.

Sincerely,

Michael Van Steenburg

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