Carini: There’s something totally different about a Cadillac

Many Cadillacs have come and gone, but Wayne Carini’s black-on-black CTS-V wagon holds a special place in his heart. Josh Sweeney

I’ve always thought that a Cadillac drives totally differently—in a good way—from other GM models. My dad and Uncle Henry agreed and savored that difference, which is why various Carinis have logged so many miles in Cadillacs. Dad really had a thing for those built from 1961 through 1965.

When I was in college, Dad and I took a summer cross-country trip to see all the car museums we could fit into three weeks. Traveling in style, we took his freshly restored 1961 Cadillac. Back in those days, there were no cellphones or GPS units, so before we started out, Dad went to AAA for one of their TripTik route planners and a few of their maps.

We hit some of the great collections and museums—Harrah’s in Reno, Nevada, the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, California, and the collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. During the trip, we found that the Cadillac, then 10 years old, was a pretty good conversation starter. I did most of the driving, broken up by regular meal stops because Dad was “a scheduled eater.” Breakfast was at 6 a.m., lunch was at noon, and dinner was at 5 p.m. At one point, we were on Interstate 80 out west and I told my father, “There is a great diner about three exits ahead,” and sure enough, there it was. Dad was surprised that I knew about it and wanted an explanation. It was one of several places I stopped at when I drove my Super Beetle out to college in Idaho.

The next Carini Cadillac I remember was a maroon 1965 Eldorado convertible that my father restored to show. When it came to car shows, he was a trophy hound, and he expected to win every time. The Eldo was great for that: In its first showing, it won a first prize, as well as an AACA Junior award at Hershey. The following year, he netted only a lowly second-place award. He was sitting at the banquet table with his small trophy when he spotted a guy walking by with a big trophy, which he won with a Whizzer—essentially a bicycle fitted with a small motor. Dad didn’t even know what a Whizzer was, but he had to have one. By the following year, he had found a Whizzer, restored it, and bagged a first.

In 1972, my sisters, Kathy and Lynn, wanted to take a cross-country trip to visit Kathy’s boyfriend in Arizona. Dad let them have a restored 1964 Coupe DeVille. “I was young, the Cadillac was pristine, and I didn’t want to be caught dead in a car that looked like a boat,” Lynn remembers. With luggage and ice chest in the back, they headed west, eating mostly fast food or sandwiches and staying in budget motels. Lynn ended up in California, met a guy, and settled there, while Kathy and her boyfriend returned to Connecticut in the Caddy.

One day, more recently, I got a call about an all-original 1961 Coupe DeVille with 41,000 miles. The Chasing Classic Cars crew and I went to Buffalo to see the car, which the owner had found on Bargain News. Sold new in New Britain, Connecticut, and gorgeous in Shell Pearl Blue Metallic, with color-matching hubcaps and an Olympic White top, the car was in unbelievable condition. It didn’t even have the usual hole worn in the driver’s side carpet(caused by high heels). The first owner’s nephew explained that his aunt always drove the car in low-heeled shoes or with Peds over her bare feet. Yes, I bought it.

A friend now owns that low-mileage 1961, but I get to see it and drive it on occasion. My current Cadillac is a black-on-black CTS-V wagon with a six-speed. I’d long wanted one, only to return to the shop one day to see a low-mileage example sitting there. A customer had dropped it off for us to sell. I called him the same day and told him it was sold! I couldn’t say no to a wagon with 556 horsepower, a manual transmission, and room for five.

Over the years, I’ve crossed paths with many other Cadillacs, including a stunning gold 1966 Fleetwood Eldorado my father had for a while. There have been other Cadillacs in the Carini stable, and there will probably be a few more in my future and my grandson’s future. Blame my father and the marque of excellence.




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    Cadillac was special for 60 odd years and began to decline in the 70’s as they began to take on a corporate mode.

    By the 80’s the FEW down sized cars were no better than any other GM car. They were all too much alike and the parts that were different were not any thing special.

    Today with the sedans they have they have some really great RWD cars. People over look them but in the secondary market many performance people see a true luxury hot rod that is not impossible to keep up with crazy expensive maintenance.

    Chrysler is pretty much gone. Lincoln is now reduced to a bunch of SUV models that are more Ford than Lincoln. American luxury is nearly gone.

    With Cadillac moving EV it is hard to know what the future will be. They could survive as a Cult car like a Tesla S but will they?

    The real shame is cars like the CT6 are sold overseas and not here. They are not just warmed over Chevy cars they were build and designed to be Cadillacs. The Camaro you could say had more Cadillac than Chevy in it. But that is also why it cost more.

    I strongly suspect that there is going to be a hard reset on the EV approach shortly. It will be interesting to see which brands stick to the EV approach and which change course. I suspect that the European producers will stay on the EV path and fill in the holes not covered by Tesla and friends, but I would be surprised if a lot of the American brands don’t change their tune shortly

    Well sone things will have to happen first.

    #1 the EV mandate for 2035 has to be recended by the EPA with assurances it will not change back in 4 years. Also emissions standards will have to be given a break.

    #2 the CARB controls states account for 44%of the market and they would need to do the same. This is not as likely as they like to counter even the EPA.

    You have to understand that the automakers are not doing EV because they want to but because they have no choice with pending laws.

    The Government in several levels will have to change to turn this around.

    Also they will need to rely on global markets to survive not just American markets.

    There is a very difficult future coming and not all will survive.

    The future is tough for auto makers. Various governments can mandate as they please, and manufacturers may build accordingly; but if consumers are unwilling to walk into a dealership and buy an EV, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

    So-what will change, consumer attitudes or government mandates? What do you think?

    I agree. The V series, like that lovely CTS-V wagon at the top is the only reason I started to pay attention again to Cadillac. When the V’s go and we go all EV I will once again lose my interest.

    I’ve always driven luxury vehicles but the paucity of American luxury cars made me look to Europe. I haven’t driven an Amrerican car for many decades, it’s always been Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Jaguar and Range Rover. Enough said?

    I will NEVER buy an electric car. I would rather walk. I will keep my gas engine cars and use them until I can no longer buy gas. I do not like being force fed EV technology. Doesn’t the government have their nose enough in your business?

    When I bought my place in So Cal, the realtor said the solar was sufficient to power the car charger, meaning your car was charged essentially for free. I said that was good news, but there would never be an electric car parked there, at least not by me.

    Wow, you really told them.

    Tribalism will kill the automobile and every bit of culture surrounding it. Thanks for doing your part.

    This is not as you so called it “tribalism”. This is OUR expression of FREE WILL. If we choose to drive gasoline powered cars, we are continuing to enjoy the automobile and the car culture. I suggest you read an article in the current Hagerty Magazine which states that a couple of professors agree that a well tuned gas vehicle is as efficient as any EV!

    Well, I am THRILLED with my electric car, which is parked next to my 1961 Cadillac Fleetwood. Both represent the leading technology of their day.
    It’s a shame that Cadillac turned to cr@p in the 80’s (V8-6-4, Diesels, HT-4100, that weird bustle-back Seville, Cimmaron, Catera etc.) and destroyed their reputation. They tried to recover with some higher performance cars starting in the 2000’s and I actually had a SRX and a CTS, which were nice-driving vehicles, but didn’t have that quality of a true luxury car (like my Fleetwood, in its day).

    I’ve owned 2 Cadillacs, a Rolls, BMW Isetta, Mercedes, Porsche and many others. The Cadillacs were indeed the Standard—well-built, affordable and very relaxing to drive. They are indeed different. But so is the ‘69 Citroën Fourgonnette we just acquired! Long live automotive diversity and inclusion.

    My grandma always drove Cadillacs. Why? She always told me that she drives them because it was their reward for all the struggle she and my grandpa had when they were growing up in the 19-teens. When she passed she left her 1980 Coupe deVille. I would care for it until my mom couldn’t drive anymore. I’ve owned 3 Caddys in life. One was a 2012 CTS-V wagon, a 2016 Esky, and a 1979 Seville. I had LMR build the engine into an 840hp beast. I loved the car not only for its performance but also for its cool rich and badazz look. It was truly a great enjoyable fun ride. But I sold it because I got tired of all the Mustang and Camaro owners wanting to drag race. I grew up with drag racing and love the sport but I’m just way too old to be getting in trouble for racing kids.

    Always having had a preference for 2 door sports cars and muscle cars, my first Cadillac was a 96 Eldorado touring coupe. It still retained enough of the older Cadillac luxury and special details to make it comfortable but fun to drive. My next was a 2011 CTS coupe. This was probably one of my favorite cars. Still having a lot of the special touches that always made a Cadillac a Cadillac, the handling and performance made this a really fun car to drive even though the interior was more cramped but still luxurious. My current XT5 was necessitated due to back problems and a need for a daily driver that was a little higher off the ground and a easier to get in and out of. Corporate policies of profit over tradition really show in that all the little details are gone. My wife’s Buick envision has more of the little special details than the XT5. Pretty comfortable and drives well for an SUV, this will probably be my last Cadillac.

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