- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2004

General Motors stylists gave the 1960 Cadillac convertible clean lines that were more restrained than those of the previous year’s Cadillacs — which had reached the pinnacle of excess.

Clearly, the design was a slightly subdued version of the 1959 Cadillac, resulting in a gracefully elegant Cadillac convertible.

The stylistic efforts were not lost on young Gary Elder, a University of Maryland student at the time, who could only dream of owning such a beautiful (and expensive) automobile.

Later, when he was in Georgetown dental school, he would occasionally spot a 1960 Cadillac convertible on the streets around campus and those incidents always rekindled that latent desire for ownership.

Records at General Motors indicate that every 1960 Cadillac convertible left the factory stretching 18 feet, 9 inches between the massive chrome-plated bumpers and floating on a 130-inch wheelbase.

Beneath the expansive hood was a powerful 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine developing 325 horsepower, more than adequate to propel the gargantuan 4,850-pound car. The base price of each of the 14,000 Cadillac convertibles manufactured during the 1960 model year was $5,455. Of course, it’s doubtful that any of the 1960 Cadillac convertibles actually were sold at that price.

Standing at the dawn of a new millennium and with dental school a distant memory, Mr. Elder began to scratch the itch that Cadillac had initiated so long ago.

He began to search through the “car for sale” ads.

“I found a lot of 1959s,” he says, referring to the popular model with the out-of-sight tailfins.

Acquiring one of those cars would have been easy. “But I wanted a 1960 model,” Mr. Elder explains.

His patience paid off when he struck pay dirt in the autumn of 2002.

The longtime second owner of an Inverness green 1960 Cadillac convertible had consigned his car to a broker of antique automobiles in Chicago.

The odometer had recorded 54,000 miles at that time.

After gathering information on the car and negotiating with the Windy City broker, Mr. Elder was satisfied the car was worth a flight out to Illinois for an in-person inspection.

He flew, he saw, he bought.

The Cadillac moved to its new home in Chevy Chase inside a truck. As gorgeous as it had appeared, it still was in need of a few items to bring it up to the high standards established by Mr. Elder.

New brakes were installed along with a new fuel pump.

Inside the car new carpeting matching the upholstery replaced the worn original.

Cradled in the luxurious driver’s seat behind the two-spoke steering wheel, Mr. Elder discovered that all the Cadillac goodies were in working order including:

• Power seats.

• Power brakes.

• Power antenna.

• Power steering.

• Power windows.

The window controls are not on the door but below the severely wrapped ends of the windshield.

Another lever operates the white vinyl convertible top. Back then, even Cadillacs had plastic rear windows in the convertibles.

Once the top is lowered, a boot, the same color as the leather upholstery, can be secured in place with 28 snaps.

“I even like it with the top up,” Mr. Elder says.

The lengthy and heavy Cadillac is supported by 8.00x15-inch white sidewall tires mounted on wire wheels.

“It’s great to drive in this car,” Mr. Elder says.

The gasoline tank has a capacity of 28 gallons.

“You don’t go too far on that amount of gas,” Mr. Elder reports.

The odometer now has recorded more than 55,500 miles and with top-down driving weather just around the corner the odometer is sure to be getting a workout.

“I really like this car,” Mr. Elder says.

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