- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2008

“It’s like a regular car,” Scot Minesinger says of his 1970 Cadillac convertible, “but it doesn’t have cup holders.”

A total of 238,745 Cadillacs were manufactured during the 1970 model year - 15,172 of them convertibles - each with a base price of $6,068. The original owner of one of those convertibles reportedly kept the car for 25 years then parked it for the next nine years.

The convertible was sold and in 2004, the second owner set about restoring the well-worn Cadillac. The monstrous 472-cubic-inch V-8 engine was overhauled as was the automatic transmission.

Among other items, the brakes were rebuilt and a new radiator and gas tank were installed on the 4,660-pound car.

The 18-foot, 9-inch-long car was resprayed in the original Firemist red paint and the white convertible top was replaced. In 1970 Cadillac offered five different Firemist hues as extra cost options.

After a year, the Cadillac still needed some work but looked pretty good. However, the owner was displeased by how it handled so it was once again offered for sale. The odometer read 90,000 miles.

That’s when Mr. Minesinger entered the picture. He saw the Cadillac at a car show late in 2005 and admired the restoration work that had been done up to that point. “The red leather interior was original,” he says, “but presentable.” He was also surprised to learn that the owner lived only ten miles from his Fairfax Station home.

The car was a beauty but Mr. Minesinger thought it would be too expensive. He could not shake the image of the car from his memory and soon was researching similar cars until he concluded that he had to have a 1968, 1969 or 1970 Cadillac convertible with a 472-cubic-inch high compression engine so it could keep up with modern traffic. Additionally, the car of his dreams had to be equipped with disc brakes and six seat belts.

Searching across the nation he found very few suitable cars. Then he remembered the Cadillac whose owner was practically a neighbor. A phone inquiry showed the car was still for sale.

Seller and buyer agreed on a Tuesday in November on a price, pending a mechanical inspection.

Mr. Minesinger’s wife, Carolyn, at this point had not been informed of the Cadillac.

“There was no sense in bothering her with details of the negotiation or transaction because the mechanic might not endorse the purchase,” Mr. Minesinger rationalized.

The following Thursday evening, when Mr. Minesinger’s wife was at a PTA meeting, he says, “I loaded the kids into our truck and drove over to pick up the convertible.”

The cold November night was not conducive to top-down motoring and he says his three children thought he was teasing them when he said the roof would actually come down.

As he turned the convertible onto their street Minesinger stopped the car and lowered the top with the glass rear window. “The kids’ eyes were wide open then. They could not believe it. They were now in love with the car and I had to have it.”

He left the convertible in the garage next to where his wife parked her car and went inside to wait.

He heard her drive into the garage and when she came into the house with a big smile he new the deal was done.

The handling malady was corrected with the installation of a new front suspension, including upper and lower ball joints, inner and outer tie rods with sleeves, center link, idler arm, pitman arm, steering gear, upper and lower front and rear control arm bushings and shafts.

The cracked original red dashboard was replaced, as were all the vacuum devices. During his test drive of the car, Mr. Minesinger noted that the car occasionally stumbled so when he became the owner the carburetor was rebuilt.

“Some cool new options were added,” Mr. Minesinger says, “such as Fleetwood rocker moldings, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and remote trunk opener.”

On a 1,500-mile trip throughout the south made pleasant by the 129.5-inch wheelbase, Mr. Minesinger reports, “There were no problems, the A/C worked great and it was a very pleasant trip.”

He drives his Cadillac regularly when the weather is nice, traffic light and his destination offers ample parking. In the 2 1/2 years that he has owned the car, Mr. Minesinger has added another 7,000 miles to the odometer reading. “It drives so nice,” he says.

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