Our Dad’s Find: 1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille

1966 Cadillac Coupe Deville

A couple weeks ago, I received a phone call from my Dad. I don’t typically get up and leave meetings to answer my phone, but for some reason I thought I’d better take this call. I asked if everything was alright. My father’s response was surprising, “What do you think of Cadillacs from the late sixties?”. I told him I thought they were nice land yachts as long as everything worked and they weren’t rusted out. He then told me that he had just found a ’66 Coupe DeVille that was parked in a garage where he was working and the owner wanted to sell! He runs a smoke and water damage restoration business in our small Wyoming hometown and he often spots interesting cars while out visiting job sites, but this was the most interesting one he had run across in a long time.

'66 Cadillac

A stuck engine or any cancerous rust could be a deal breaker for a big car like this, but luckily Dad is pretty savvy with a wrench. Considering how busy he is though, it wouldn’t be a good idea to take on a project that needed serious work. As I was running him through what all to check on it, he stopped me and asked, “Aren’t you guys going to be here in a week for the 4th? You can just check it out then!”. I told him we would be there, but that he might not want to wait that long or someone else might snatch it up. He kind of chuckled at that remark and said that we didn’t need to worry about that. So we added going and looking at this Cadillac to our list of things to do while we were home for the holiday!

Cadillac Coupe Deville

After making the 12 hour drive back to Wyoming, both Jesse and I were pretty excited to see the Cadillac. If we hadn’t been so tired from the drive, we probably would have gone and looked at it as soon as we pulled into town. Boy am I glad we got some rest instead, because we ended up needing it! The Caddy had been parked in this garage since the early ’90s and at one point was covered in a mountain of junk. Thankfully someone had cleared most of it off before we got there. We still had to remove a chair, some lamp shades, and a box, but that was the easy part! We started checking the underside for rust, and while we spotted some surface rust here and there, none of it was serious. Next up was to check the engine and once we got the hood up, we made sure the engine was free. As soon as the motor budged, Jesse gave me that look I’ve come to know so well. I call this look the “we need to save it” look! So we gave Dad the thumbs up and were soon loading it up onto the tow truck.

Coupe DeVille

Getting it out of the garage was no simple task and this is where the good nights rest came into play. The driver of the tow truck felt the best plan of attack was to use  a winch to pull the car just far enough out of the garage to slide it up onto the truck. Jesse and I both recommended pushing the car out of the garage onto level ground first and then pull it up on the truck, but one of the tires was completely flat and the driver does this kind of thing for a living, so we didn’t argue with him. That might have not been the best decision on a car that is over 18 feet long though. I climbed into the driver’s seat to steer the car and while I was there I was surprised by just how nice the interior still is. The angle of the truck ramp and the length of the trunk just didn’t add up quite right and there was no way we were going to let him just drag this beautiful beast up the ramp on its bumpers. Since we were already lined up and I was trapped inside the car (my door was too close to the wall to open and the passenger’s side was jammed shut). It was decided our best bet was to build some type of ramp to get the rear wheels up higher. With the driver and one of the owner’s son’s help, a makeshift ramp was constructed to get it up onto the truck without any grinding or bottoming out. After some hard work, we had it up on the truck!

Towing Cadillac

With the car out in the open, we finally could see the overall condition of the car. And while it has some bumps and bruises, it is in great shape. It is without a doubt the longest coupe I have ever seen! Getting it back off the truck went much smoother than getting it on did, but that could be attributed to the air in the flat tire and the level driveway. Soon it was parked in our parent’s driveway. We weren’t going to work on it, but our hometown holds an annual car show on the 4th of July and we could tell our dad really wanted to take his new purchase to the show. We’ve revived quite a few cars now, so we thought we’d give it a shot.

We didn’t get started on it until late in the evening and Wal-Mart was the only store still open in town. While we would have liked to done a full tune-up, Wally World doesn’t carry oil filters, plugs, or wires for a ’66 Cadillac. So we just had to make due with an oil change and a good cleaning of the spark plugs! We also bought some Marvel Mystery oil to put down in the cylinders. With supplies in hand, we headed back to the house and got to work! We even had a small fireworks show off in the distance to keep us entertained! Jesse remarked that it was just like the scene in Sandlot, except instead of playing baseball we were reviving an American classic!

Cadillac Fireworks

Draining the oil was super easy, but adding Marvel to each cylinder was a bit tricky. Eventually I got a little oil in each cylinder and we let it sit while we worked on checking the fuel system. Whoever parked it had the wisdom to drain the fuel system, so all we had to do was get the locking cap off and put fuel in it. Just before midnight, we strapped in a new battery, disconnected the coil, and put the key in the ignition for the first time in over 20 years! Jesse was upfront monitoring the engine, so I had the privilege of being the first person to crank this mighty big block over since it was parked all those years ago. As I inserted the key, all the interior lights came to life. I turned the key to the on position and the dash light came on, even the radio crackled and came to life! We let it crank a few times and everything sounded good. With some oil pressure built up, we decided to attempt a start. Jesse plugged the coil in and I gave the gas pedal a couple pumps. I turned the key, but no spark. I gave it a couple more tries, but no luck. So we grabbed a trusty can of carb cleaner and gave it a couple of squirts. I hit the key one more time, she coughed a bit, and then spun to life. There was a bit of valve train noise at first, but it quickly smoothed out.

Cadillac Late Night Reparis

With the engine purring almost like new, we decided to check the master cylinder, which turned out to be completely empty. After putting some new brake fluid in it, I pumped the pedal a few times to build up pressure. The pedal felt spongy, but we wouldn’t know if we had brakes until we put it into gear, so I pushed the brake pedal to the floor and slide it into reverse. I felt it go into gear, but it didn’t move. I slowly left off the pedal and the car began to roll backwards. Success! I put it into drive and I began to creep forward, I gave it a little gas and off I went. I swung back around and Jesse jumped in the passenger seat. He exclaimed that with all the smoke in the air and dust on the car, it looked like the funeral flower car from hell! It was 12:10 and we had just revived the single largest car we have every worked on! We didn’t want to risk damaging anything, so we took turns driving it up and down the driveway for the next few minutes. We finally parked it and started testing things inside. We started out testing the lights – headlights, high beams, brake lights, and turn signals all seemed to be working. Next up was the radio, which came on, but was only putting out static. As we were messing with the dials, one of us pushed in on the channel dial and the antenna started moving up. After letting it fully extend, we heard what sounded like a voice, so Jesse began to adjust the frequency and soon we were enjoying the sweet sounds of the Beach Boys!

Sheridan Car Show

At 12:30 we finally drug ourselves back to the house to get some sleep. We were exhausted, but excited to see if the car would start back up in the morning. When I woke in the morning, I headed to the kitchen and overheard my dad excitedly telling my mom that we must have gotten the car running because it wasn’t in the same spot as the tow truck had delivered it! Eventually, we all went out to have a look at the night’s work. Dad climbed into the driver’s seat and gave the key a twist. The engine fired right up! It didn’t hesitate, it didn’t cough or back fire, it just came to life and idled smoothly. After looking everything over, we decided to give it a real test drive. With my dad at the wheel, we headed off down the street! It glided down the road without a single issue. It felt like a boat, of course, but they felt that way when they were brand new. After testing the brakes a few times and making sure the wheels were going to hold air, we decided to make the drive down to main street for the car show. Once we pulled into the show, people immediately came to look at our bright blue bomb. Some people loved the barn fresh look, while others were upset that we hadn’t detailed it, but we were just happy it made it there without overheating or breaking down!

Cadillac At Car Show

Throughout the show, our dad proudly told each passerby that would talk to him about Barn Finds and how we had revived the car mere hours before the show. We even talked to a few people who have been following the site since we launched it all those years ago! I even got to talk to one of the previous owner’s sons, and when he found out how little it took to get it running, he wanted it back! While the show was a great time, the best part was just getting to spend time enjoying the hobby we love with the man who inspired us to hunt for cars in the first place! Our father isn’t a man of wealth and he doesn’t own a beautiful collection of classic cars, yet he somehow managed to instil a love and appreciation for all things classic in us. He also taught us how to use a wrench and what it meant to work hard for the people and things you love!

Cadillac Interior

After the show was over, we were able to cruise around in this big Caddy in the shadows of the Bighorn Mountains while our dad told us stories of a Super Bee he once owned. Eventually, we decided to give the Cadillac a bath so we could see what was under all those years of dust. We started out at a regular car wash, but ended up at an automatic one. Jesse advised against that, but it turned out to be exciting. It proved two things too. First, the seal are all still good! Second, this car is too big and heavy to go through a modern automatic car wash. We derailed three times and only the first six feet of the car ended up getting washed! That’s alright though, because we got a good laugh out of the whole experience and the car ended up looking great once we finally got out of there! After we got it home, we did a little cleaning (there’s a lot more still to be done) and it looks like it is going to clean up really well. As you can see, the interior really does look good and is in surprisingly nice shape! It’s amazing to think of all the conveniences this car had in the sixties. There’s automatic climate control, power seats, and even a tilt and telescope steering wheel in there! Heck, this thing even has corning lamps that come on when you hit the turn signals.

Dad With His Caddy

Our dad really enjoyed the whole experience, but honesty it really isn’t his type of car. He would rather have a Super Bee or a Model T. He actually picked up a lead on a Model T while we were loading this car onto the truck! He still hasn’t decided whether he is going to keep the Cadillac or not, but one thing is sure – we made a lot of great memories with this car in a short period of time. So, thanks dad for one of the best 4th of Julys your boys have ever had!

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Comments

  1. KO

    Beautiful story!

  2. Cassidy Member

    Fantastic story! Its so very cool that you guys were able to get this beast running so quickly! Best part: it sounded more like a Father’s Day weekend than a 4th.

  3. jim s

    i wonder why the left headlight cover is a mismatch. just enought dings and dents to make it a fun driver that you can park anywhere. great story, way to spend family time and find.

    • Clay Bryant

      Didn’t notice the headlight cover but the left front fender and door have been worked on and reshot……………

  4. Mike V.

    Buy! How much?

  5. Mark Klein

    I’m looking for a 68 Camero, I had one my uncle gave me for $60 to pay for a tow. The 327 motor blew up for some reason with only 30k miles on it. I dropped another small block in it and drove it for my last two years of high school. Grad of ’80’ I’d like to find another one if anyone knows where I could. Also am in the market for finding a Nova, one of my best friends had one, he’s dead now, killed in a auto accident with his best friend. I would really like to bring these two cars back. The Nova was gray/silver with a black hard top. Both cars had black leather interior with bucket seats, 3 speed on the floor. Really would appreciate help on this. Means a lot to me and a whole small town of people. Thanks, Mark

  6. RickyM

    Brilliant find ! Great story. Proves you don’t necessarily have to go far to find a Barn Find !

  7. randy

    Did you entertain the thought of returning it to the son, properly compensated of course. His dad may not have had the knowledge or whatever it takes to pass auto repair down to his son.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Nice thought, good car guy mojo!

  8. blindmarc

    I grew up driving my moms 68′ coupe deville calias. It was the same colors as this one. Y’all got a good car, and did a great thing getting it running right away. I would love to have it.

  9. Ed P

    Please detail the car and put more pictures online.

  10. Dolphin Dolphin Member

    Great story. Looking at the Caddy parked on that small town main street sure tells you how long those ’60s Caddy Coupes were.

    Your father has really varied tastes, from a Model T to a Superbee. That’s a true car guy.

    • Olaf E

      One of my best friends here in the Netherlands drives a ’72 Sedan De Ville (green). No parking it like that overhere, he’d be blocking the whole street!

    • Mark E

      When I had a ’59 Cadillac convertible I remember I could slowly go into the garage and stop when I bumped the wall with the front bumper. Then, and only then, could I close the door. Also back then, when my waist was only 36″, I could suck my stomach in as hard as I could and -barely- go around the back with the door shut, the pointy fins scraping my stomach!

      The other thing I remember was buying a car cover for the ’59. I went into an auto parts store and the box had a table listing the recommended lengths for small, medium, large & extra large covers. According to the table the XL cover was one or two feet too short and when I asked the clerk if there was a bigger one he replied “What are you covering, a motor home?” ^_^ I ended up buying an XL which -barely- worked…the back was stretched so tightly against those pointy fins that I was always surprised they didn’t tear through the cover!

  11. Mark E

    Great story! I’m only left wondering why the tow truck driver did not suggest dragging the car out, inflating the tire and THEN pulling it onto the truck?

    Having owned a ’64 Fleetwood I can most emphatically say that you are fantastically lucky that the automatic climate control works! Thanks to my car I discovered that each year is completely different and NOT interchangeable. Also if you DO happen to find one in a junkyard, the odds are nearly 100% that it’s either dead or dying. And finally, since you can not replace it, you send it out to be REBUILT to the tune of about $1,000! o_0

    I ended up taking some plastic tubing and, spending a couple of hours, jury rigged mine so the A/C would come out of either the defroster or heat vents. So on a hot scorching day I’d either have frozen feet OR so much condensation on the outside of the cold windshield that I could hardly see where I was going! ^_^

    Finally, yes, these cars DO drive like a boat (more like a tanker than a Chris Craft!) and I remember back in the early ’80s after spending the weekend driving my ’59 Cadillac Convertible I got back in my daily driver, a ’78 LeSabre and the difference made the Buick feel like driving a BMW or Porsche!

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Or better yet air the tire up first…

      Great story!!

  12. Luke Fitzgerald

    Great stuff – if your old man wants to shift it, make sure you get it!

  13. Woodie Man

    As a 20 yr old college student in um……………1974.I bought a 1965 Sedan De Ville from a pimp behind Madison Square Garden in NYC, for 750.00. Beautiful metallic blue very much like your car’s color, with stunning blue leather…and an extra set of doors of course. . Drove it back down South and had a ball for a couple of years. The difference between the ’65 and ’66 in the back was the chrome surround on the license plate was integrated intp the horizontal lines of the trunk and bumper. , whereas with the ’66 there was a defined rectangular shape around the plate as yours has, Some other small differences in the front but basically the same.

    Of course gas was thirty cents a gallon and I struggled to put six bucks in it a couple of times a week, The obvious fuel consumption aside, it is a beautiful car. I assume yours has the Wonderbar radio……a signal seeker in effect..

    These 65 and 66 Caddies were sui generis in that .the ’64 and ’67 looked very differentt. Dont know how much parts crossover there is, certainly not in trim, fenders etc.

    Hope you guys will follow up with more photos and love to hear how this caddy ended up in the “Wild West”

  14. RoughDiamond Member

    That was an awesome Caddy and father and son story and thanks for sharing it.

  15. Mark 'cuda man

    In the late 1970’s my father bought a 1966 wholesale from a Cadillac dealer (it was a trade-in) that was mint with original black lacquer with red leather bucket seats and a console. What a fantastic beautiful car that was. I always wonder where that car is today?????

  16. Detroit Gary

    Great find, beautiful car and a well-written story also! My Dad bought a ’66 2 door Coupe de Ville, the same blue on blue color at Dagleish Cadillac in Detroit. He was so proud he could afford to buy a new Caddy, he even let me drive it to my girlfriend’s house to take it for a ride.
    Keep up the great writing and fun stories.

  17. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    Nice car story. WONDERFUL father/sons story. Thank you for sharing…I applaud and, frankly, envy you :-)

  18. OhU8one2

    If I remember right,I had a 63 Coupe that was 18’9″ long. Biggest car I’ve ever owned. Parking the thing wasn’t easy,you had to swing the front end around. Even with P/S I still remember turning that wheel over and over. I’ll bet your Dad was like a little kid on Christmas morning. Then to put it into a car show! I’ve alway’s said,it’s great memories for life that is worth more than money. Sound’s to me your family has lots of stories. In my opinion,that’s the way thing’s should be. To all you Father’s and Son’s out there working on a project together,my hat goes off to you. That time is very precious and never take it for granted.

  19. Chris A.

    What a great car/father-sons story. As for Cadillacs, I started driving in 1962 and never sat behind the wheel of one until 2012. It was a great experience driving the interstate in that big cruiser, perfect car for the open road and four people. The blue color on yours is perfect inside and out. As for the gas mileage, at cruise I was into the low twenties with the one I was driving. Your Cadillac is a big step up from that bullet hole Mustang you had. This car in the same color as a four door coupe is also stunning.

  20. Jeff Lavery Jeff Staff

    This is a wonderful story, guys. Definitely one for the memory books. Well done.

  21. 59FORDfan

    The car is, absolutely, gorgeous(I’ve, never, seen a blue, on a Cadillac, like that-absolutely, beautiful!) The story: so wonderful!

  22. CorvairJim

    As I read the story, I found myself cheering (inside, of course) every little triumph you had in getting the car out of the garage, onto the truck, running, cleaned up, and finally displayed. That, my friend, is a feel-good car-guy story if there ever was one. Please relay to your dad, NEVER restore that car! They’re only original once. Just give it a thorough detailing and maybe make an appointment with a paintless dent removal guy. Other than that, leave that big, beautiful car as-is! (And, as you may have guessed by my screen name, I like small cars, not land yachts).

  23. Rex Kahrs Member

    Thumbs up on the Cad and your Dad. You guys are bad.

  24. Angel Cadillac Diva

    Here it is, four years later….. And I’m wondering where is the car now? I’d give my eye teeth for this car. I now live in Vegas, so I’m close to Wyoming.
    A little of my history, my love for Cadillacs started in 1957 when I was four years old. My aunt and uncle next door owned a powder blue 1956 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. In 1958 they bought a 1959 Coupe de Ville.
    My other aunt had a 1957 Coupe de Ville. Hence, my love of Cadillacs was born.
    I’ve had a few myself. Not brand new, of course as I am poor but I’ve had a few over the years a 56 Fleetwood when I was thirteen, a 68 coupe, a 74 coupe, a 75 Fleetwood, a 75 Eldorado conv, a 76 coupe and a 92 Eldorado. Then I moved into SUVs. Can’t wait to get a Escalade or SRX!
    My Dad had a 60 Sedan de Ville, and a 66 Sedan.
    Sure wish I had held on to a few of them, but, of course, space is always the problem.

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