This Ridler-winning Cadillac build took 15 years, plus a Chevy Nomad’s sacrifice

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1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham custom station wagon "CADMAD" Barrett-Jackson

The culmination of sleek Italian style and American excess, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was an exclusive luxury cruiser in its time, with just 99 examples of the body produced by Pininfarina. However, if true exclusivity is your bag, this example, up for sale at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction, is a truly unique proposition.

CadMad is the result of a 15-year quest by Stephen Barton to claim one of the most prized achievements in the custom car world: The Don Ridler Memorial Award, given yearly to the top custom car of the Detroit Autorama. Stephen passed away before the car was completed, but he had shepherded it nearly all the way. Stephen’s brother Craig Barton carried on his brother’s wish to complete the car as scheduled, and the crew at Super Rides by Jordan in Escondido, California, finished the work they had started and brought Stephen’s Ridler-winning dream to its ultimate conclusion. CadMad took the prestigious Ridler Award in 2019.

The CadMad name, in case you haven’t noticed, comes from the car’s melding of Cadillac and Chevrolet Nomad sheet metal. A foot and a half of the Cadillac’s length, including its rear doors, was removed and the body was sectioned and narrowed. A myriad of subtle and not-so-subtle body modifications were also made, including the addition of the Nomad’s signature roof, at least most of it. The top was chopped to give a long, low look, suitable for a grand touring luxury shooting brake.

Initially CadMad was to be powered by a pair of Northstar V-8s as an homage to Cadillac’s early V-16 heritage. Instead, the plan was changed to embrace Cadillac’s ’60s legacy of monster V-8s. A 632-cubic-inch big-block Chevy from Nelson Racing Engines is twin-turbocharged to produce more than 1000 horsepower and it sends all the power to a rear-mounted Corvette automatic transmission and axle.

All told, more than $2 million was spent to create CadMad, which is not out of the ordinary for a decade-and-a-half build that aimed to capture the Ridler—and succeeded. For the ultimate collector of coachbuilt cars, this amalgamation of American and Italian luxury with custom hot rod performance might be the ultimate prize.

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