- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

Before Matthew Smith’s sister, Susan Benson, married, she drove about Bethesda in a 1971 Plymouth Duster painted the distinctive “Plum Crazy.” Little did her brother know that half a continent away there was a “Plum Crazy” fanatic.

Robert McEndree owned Bob’s Body Shop and Car Wash in Lenexa, Kan., and also had a fleet of tow trucks that served the greater Kansas City area. The trucks, regardless of make, were easy to spot because they were all painted Plum Crazy.

In 1979, Cadillac announced that the then-current front-wheel-drive Eldorado model would be the last convertible. A total of 14,000 convertibles were built and even with a base price of $11,049 they went quickly. Mr. McEndree learned that if he was willing to pay extra for a special paint the folks at Cadillac would be happy to oblige. He went to the Roach Cadillac dealership in Kansas City, Mo., paid the extra $370 and said he wanted a Plum Crazy Cadillac Eldorado convertible. He was informed that Cadillac didn’t have such a color but he replied that Chrysler did and that is the color he wanted.

The factory painted Plum Crazy Cadillac was delivered to Mr. McEndree Jan. 15, 1976. The car reportedly was used in a few weddings and an occasional local parade but otherwise was kept in a climate-controlled, sealed garage until the owner’s death.

In the early spring of 2007, pictures and descriptions of the car were posted on eBay. That is where the familiar color riveted the attention of Mr. Smith who was merely browsing electronically. He noticed that the 31-year-old car had been driven only 2,100 miles and virtually everything on it was original.

Mr. Smith enlisted the aid of a savvy bidder and gave him instructions and a limit above which he was not to bid. The bidder knew that Mr. Smith really wanted the car so he ignored the instructions he was given and exceeded the limit by about 8 percent to place the winning bid.

“I lucked out,” Mr. Smith now admits.

A trucking company took a fortnight to deliver the car to Mr. Smith in Northwest Washington. “When it came off the truck,” he says, “it was beyond expectations.”

The white convertible top was dusty and a connecting hose to the left rear air shock absorber was loose. Otherwise, the car looked as it did when it was new. “It was eerie,” Mr. Smith recalls.

To be on the safe side, Mr. Smith had the belts replaced but everything else, including hoses, wiring and tires, is original.

Papers that came with the Cadillac indicate that the original owner loaded the car with optional equipment including:

c Reclining right seat: $221

c Dual comfort seat: $185

c Cruise control: $104

c Tilt/telescope wheel: $102

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