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The Shirey Cadillac show is ‘70s heaven on earth
Tom Klockau has made a name for himself on a variety of automotive websites as a patient and enthusiastic chronicler of cars from the ‘70s and ‘80s. This is his debut for Hagerty. Please make him feel welcome!
This marked the fifth year I have attended the Shirey Cadillac all-GM classic car show in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Unlike many GM-centric shows, this one’s light on the Bel Airs and heavy on the personal-luxury coupes. Organized by my friend Bill Buckingham and the Cadillac & LaSalle Club’s West of the Lake Region, there is a decidedly Brougham-ish focus. Lots of Cadillacs, certainly, but also Electras, Cutlass Supremes, Rivieras, and Bonnevilles. Sure, on occasion there may be a random hot rod, Mustang, or 1957 Chevrolet, but they are a small fringe element to most of the show entrants.
1977 Cutlass Supreme Brougham. All original with 24,000 miles.
And it’s always nice to see my fellow Chicagoland Cadillac club friends. I interact with them all the time online, but only see them two or three times in person per year. We always get to yakking in short order! Oh, and the dealership grills lunch for everyone, gratis. So. I get to eat, chat with my fellow Brougham aficionados, gawk at the cars, and take approximately 250 to 300 photos each year. What’s not to like?
My visit to the show was not entirely without difficulty. It was overcast when I left home base, and it started raining hard about an hour into the trip. The bridge crossing Interstate 80 in Joliet is really disintegrating; it looks like a Datsun B210 looked in Milwaukee circa 1989. I crossed said bridge without issue, but immediately after traffic came to an absolute standstill. Fortunately, there was an exit right there. I took it, and proceeded to get lost in Joliet. Did I mention it was pouring down rain?
I was IN Joliet about an hour before this photo was taken!
With 80 screwed up, I attempted to find Highway 43. The GPS on my phone wouldn’t do anything but give me the I-80 route. This was ridiculous. Fortunately I had an actual atlas in the trunk of the car, and found a way out of the city. Via Highway 52, I spotted a sign saying “To Interstate 80” so I took that route. Took the ramp and all was clear. About five minutes later, I started hearing an odd, high-pitched whistling sound. It was like the sound you’d hear at highway speed if a window was open just a little. I checked all the windows; they were up.
1974 Grand Prix, factory 455 V-8, buckets and console, slick top, and cornering lamps!
Turned off the A/C. Still there. So then I started freaking out. What was it?! The car was driving fine, no warning lights, nothing.
I immediately had nightmares of my Town Car’s transmission exploding 120 miles from home. It had just been at Strieter Lincoln for service the prior week, though, and they said everything was fine, other than new brakes, which were taken care of.
I wanted to pull over RIGHT NOW, but there was no exit for about 15 miles. During which time your author thought he was going to have a stroke.
Finally took the LaGrange Road exit, pulled over at a hotel, checked everything. Nothing. No leaks, no smoke, no low tire pressure, nothing about to blow up. What the heck?
I was freaked out enough to want to turn around and go home right then and there. But I was already in Tinley Park, Oak Lawn was only like eight miles away. I was 99.5 percent there already. So I gingerly got off the always-busy, always congested LaGrange Road. Took a parallel, much less traveled street, and put the windows down, alert for any funny business. Arrived at Shirey Cadillac on South Cicero without issue.
I believe the total picture count for the day was 202 photos. Cadillac Fever, when it seizes you, simply has to run its course. There will probably be a second post in the near future, on this show.
This was my favorite. 1977 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz in Frost Orange Firemist. What a car!
In the plush 1977 Eldorado dealer catalog, the very same color was prominently featured on the first page. Ever since acquiring that brochure in the late ’90s, it’s become my favorite color on these cars.
Years ago, there was a rough, rusty one in one of the neighborhoods in Rock Island, and it finally disappeared around 2001. But this one was perfect!
When I saw it, my jaw just dropped. I was like the wolf in the old Tex Avery cartoons. Hubba hubba! Awoogah! It was owned by a friend of a friend in the club. I was told it had extremely low mileage. And was for sale. Very interesting! If only I had the garage space.
Of course, there were plenty of other awesome cars. A triple yellow 1986 Fleetwood Brougham…
1974 Grand Ville convertible…
and Brittany Blue 1971 Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham. No fewer than three friends have owned this car. When I first saw it back in 2015, it was owned by Ron Schweitzer. Prior to that, Bill Buckingham owned it. And it is currently owned by Andrew Bobis. Cadillac addiction can only be treated by the purchase of additional Cadillacs, don’t you know!
I’d finally calmed down enough from my weird car noises to grab lunch with Ron and Andrew. This is Chicago, and they know how to grill! Everything’s always good. And the scenery is excellent. Like this Colonial Yellow 1979 Cadillac Seville. I love the original Seville, and it still looks fresh and clean today.
It had been partly cloudy when I’d initially arrived, but by now it was bright, sunny, and 83. Not humid. Perfect car show weather. It was a terrific day to be outdoors.
It got nice enough that several more show cars arrived; apparently, they had waited for the storm to pass. The ’74 Grand Ville convertible was just one of the later arrivals.
I’d more or less relaxed from my drive up, and took several dozen additional pictures. Jim Smith, my go-to guy for 1970s dealership promo model cars, arrived around this time and we proceeded to yak with several other owners. And I got a 1978 Plymouth Volare and a 1980 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 1/24 scale promotional from him.
Finally, I decided I needed to head out, being a little nervous about the car acting up on the way home. Home being approximately 165 miles away. But before I left, it was time for a few more shots, including this absolutely gorgeous 1957 Coupe de Ville.
All the stop and go (and long, loooong red lights) in suburban Chicago made me keyed up. This is not where I wanted the car to conk out, should said conking be inevitable. Eventually I got back to LaGrange Road, then on to 80. The big Lincoln was fine.
And remained fine. Well enough that I stopped in Peru, where there is a most excellent antique mall right next to the Interstate. Two six-foot tall showcases there had a ton of 1950–70s 1/24 scale dealer promo models, and I always find at least one to buy.
I can easily spend an hour or more in there, but I arrived about 4:30, and they close at 5:00, so I went directly to the main showcase with the promos, and found a 1971 Eldorado promo in Duchess Gold that I had to have. All in all, a fun trip!
Oh, and the Town Car? It was 100 percent fine. How do I know this? When I was walking through the antique store, all of a sudden I heard that whistling sound again. It sure as heck wasn’t the car that time! The nearest person was a fiftyish gentleman looking at an item in a booth. Definitely not him.
So you know what it was? My cochlear implant! My older one used to do it once in a while, though then it was more of a static/interference kind of sound. I think all the recent rain and moisture, combined with the hot weather, means it’s time to put it in its Tupperware container with the Dri Aid stuff. What a relief! And the car did no further funny stuff all the way back to the QC. Because it wasn’t the car! I got all worked up for nothing.
So it’s a good thing I went to the show. If I’d turned around and went home earlier, and then found out it was my hearing device, I would have been THOROUGHLY TICKED. I’d have missed this excellent show for no good reason than my assuming the worst possible thing, i.e. the transmission grenading, when it was such a minor thing in reality. Yep, just Stupid Klockau being stupid!
But in the end, I came, I saw, and I Broughamed. The day ended as a win. And I’ll be back next year! If you live in the greater Chicago area, I highly recommend it.