Air Custom 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Owner: Randy Wilcox – Mahtomedi, MN

 

CUSTOM TOOLBOX PROVIDED BY SNAP ON

VINTAGE AIR CUSTOM ROD OF THE YEAR DIVINE SACRILEGE

“About four or five years ago, I decided that I’d do a complete redo on the car with an LSA engine,” Randy continues. In fact, he even started working on it. “But as I got in, I realized I should just have Rad Rides finish the job.”

Now as much as we’d like to think we could, one doesn’t just spontaneously decide to have someone of Troy Trepanier’s caliber just finish a job. But Randy isn’t your average client; he has a longstanding working relationship with Troy. “Years ago, I had a car that Troy built called Cad Attack,” he points out.

To say Rad Rides merely finished the job isn’t exactly fair, either. The crew broke down the coupe to its constituent parts. Troy, Adam Banks, Gary Childers, and Casey Modert welded and ground the seams on the frame to make it appear as if it was made with box-section tubing. Bucking convention, they elected to detail the stock suspension rather than replace it. In another twist, they went from air springs back to coils, this time with RideTech adjustable dampers.

Brian Ferguson, Alex Meriam, and Troy oversaw the drivetrain, which includes the LSA that inspired the makeover. Among other things, they fabricated a firewall, core-support cover, overflow-tanks, air-filter housing, and belt shrouds that resemble mid-century GM engine-compartment tin. Lawrence Laughlin designed and carved various components like rocker covers in the image of early Cadillac pieces.

A 4L80E more ably handles the 551 lb.-ft. torque and 556 horsepower. Wilwood binders operate behind a set of 18-inch wheels that Lawrence whittled in the likeness of ’1959 Cadillac wheel covers. They wear Diamondback Classic whitewall tires.

Naturally the bumpers fit tighter now. Warren Lewis cleaned up the panel gaps, ironed the tin flat, and applied the Glasurit silver-blue metallic urethane. To make the trim fit in kind, the Rad Rides crew cut it short, welded solid stock to the ends, and machined those to match the tighter gaps. “It makes the trim look custom made,” Randy observes. The top treatment evokes the ’1957 and ’1958 Brougham’s brushed-stainless panel, but in more realistic vinyl.

Adam Banks carved seat foam then covered it and the rest of the cockpit in slate-blue leather, body cloth, and wool carpet. Dakota Digital made VHX-series gauges fit the Cadillac gauge panel. A Vintage Air system blows through stock vents. Lawrence Laughlin machined the steering wheel in the stock design; Adam wrapped it in a combination of full-grain and basket-weave leather. Most of the Rad Rides crew, including Rick Morcheski, pitched in on final assembly.

That someone would ask one of the most sanctified builders to hide their workmanship may baffle some. It was Randy’s goal; “I like subtle changes,” he admits. “But that’s exactly why I went to Troy. He knows when to stop.”

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