Custom Built! 1979 Cadillac “Wagon” De Ville

In the 1970s, if you contacted R.S. Harper Custom Coachbuilders out of Fraser, Michigan, they would build you a custom station wagon out of a 4-door Cadillac Sedan De Ville. Case-in-point is this 1979 Caddy which was one of an undetermined number of luxury cars to be treated to their handiwork. It wears a more recent restoration that needs some rework. Located in Brick, New Jersey, this Caddy people mover could be yours for $15,500 here on craigslist. Thanks for the tip, stalworth Barn Finder Pat L.!

If Cadillac had built a factory station wagon, it might have looked like this, based on the Sedan De Ville d’Elegance. Instead, customizers like R.S. Harper took on the challenge. Since Harper’s creation first hit the road, it’s seen at least 122,000 miles as the odometer is currently broken. It was refurbished in 2015, which included some rust repair, a new paint job, and a reupholstered interior. It also wears a vinyl roof with a roof rack and an integrated rear air dam. Aftermarket wire wheels were added either by Harper or a prior owner and now have Vogue-style narrow whitewall tires mounted on them.

The restoration took place only six years ago, and yet some problems persist today. The rear bumper is showing some corrosion and is missing its rubber impact strip. The driver’s side rear quarter panel also has some rust around the beltline and fuel door. The interior may be okay and the passengers can now listen to tunes provided by an upgraded sound system that replaced the factory unit.

We believe the seller is a dealer as some of the car’s description comes across in the third person. Mechanically, this machine is said to be sound, propelled by a 425 cubic-inch Cadillac V8 paired with a Turbo-Hydramatic. Whether the drivetrain received a refresh, too, in 2015 is not mentioned. If you’re looking for a one-off kind of automobile for Cars & Coffee, you’d likely be the only person in your circle to drive one of these wagons.

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Comments

  1. Stevieg Member

    I’ve always been intrigued by these Cadillac station wagon conversions, but I think I would pass on this one. The upholstery job just doesn’t look that good to me & would be very expensive to redo properly. The drivers side rear quarter panel doesn’t follow the body lines of the front doors, and to me look like they are over 50% bonds. Then there is the color combo. Yellow/beige with brown interior & red carpet? Must be owned by Ronald McDonald.

    Like 4
    • Terry

      There’s body filler all over and it was a crappy car to start with.

      Like 2
  2. Terrry

    Too bad they did the mod on a ’79..it was a crappy year for Cadillac and most cars in general. If they’d done it to a early to mid 60s Sedan Deville, it would be something.

    Like 2
    • Gary

      Ooooh a 59 wagon would be frickin awesome! Pink, of course, with a pink and black or pink and white interior.

      Like 2
  3. Gary

    I had a wrecker business years ago (1989-96). I towed in a brand new hearse that was being delivered from the builder to the funeral home (500+ miles) and blew a tire that took out most of the right rear quarter panel. The Bondo had to be there inches thick on that thing.

    Like 4
    • Stevieg Member

      I used to sell hearses for a living and I will tell you I am not surprised. For as much as they cost new, the build quality is terrible lol.

      Like 1
  4. Steveo

    Love the hood ornament. Really makes the package a winner.

    Like 1
  5. Howie Mueler

    All those photos and none of the engine.

  6. Jeff Quintrall

    Ugly beast! Similar to the “Family Truckster”.

    Like 4
  7. Lothar... of the Hill People

    Gaudy and functional. I think, if you could get it for the right price, it would be a great conversation piece to use on weekend rides, road trips, etc. And, you can haul some lumber in it… bonus.

  8. Richard Kirschenbaum

    It would seem to me that the easy way to build a Cadillac Wagon would be to start with the “hull” of an Olds 98 wagon and make the mods to wrap it in Cadillac Sheet metal. If practical, this would save a lot of grafting and re-engineering. The tailgate and surround would have to come from another car, no matter what. Ridiculous to build that from scratch. Anyone know anything about this?

    I once knew a bodyman that worked for Lehman Peterson, the original Lincoln Continental stretchers. I asked him how they managed the roofs that were painted and not padded. He told me they used roofs from station wagons. And get this: they pop riveted them down and put a light coat of solder (lead) over the perimeter. Coachbuilding is a fascinating topic that few know anything about, Books on it always focus on the finished product and not the process, which should be at least as interesting if not more.

    Like 1

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