- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

Fifteen years of tail fins came to an end when the finless 1965 Cadillac was introduced, but Vince Taliano didn’t care. Years later he came to appreciate the stacked headlights that permitted an even wider grille.

“As I got older,” Mr. Taliano says, “my affection for Cadillacs increased.” By 1996 he decided to acquire an old Cadillac. The car had to be a 1965 model because that was the year of his birth.

His parents were disappointed when he told them of his plan. They thought they had done a better job of raising their son. “I can still hear my parents saying, ‘Are you crazy?’” Mr. Taliano recalls.

After months of searching, he began to get a sense of the market value of 1965 Cadillacs.

In November 1996, a 1965 Cadillac Sedan DeVille was advertised for sale in Laurel. The owner lived in a retirement community and, due to construction there, was losing his parking space for his Cadillac. He had to sell it by Friday.

On a Tuesday Mr. Taliano telephoned the owner and, based solely on his description and without seeing the car, he says, “I made him an offer.” The owner wanted to wait a day to see if a better offer was made. The next day, a Wednesday, he called Mr. Taliano and said he could have the car at his price if he still wanted it.

Mr. Taliano went to see the Cadillac that night after work. “I was not disappointed,” he says. “It was black with black and white interior and original chrome that glistened. I liked it immediately.”

Although the car needed attention in a few places, the owner provided about $7,000 in recent receipts for work completed on the engine, body, paint, exhaust, tires and brakes.

Even after assuring the owner that the Cadillac was going to a good home, Mr. Taliano noticed a tear in the owner’s eye as he drove off in the Cadillac with 95,720 miles recorded on the odometer.

When new, the 18-foot, 7.5-inch-long car had a base price of $5,666. Of course, that included a monstrous 429-cubic-inch V-8 that developed 340 horsepower. The 4,555 pounds of luxury cruised along the boulevard on a 129.5-inch wheelbase.

Mr. Taliano learned that his elegant Cadillac was originally a Virginia car and he thinks that he is owner No. 4.

Until about 20 years ago, the Cadillac wore a coat of white. The immediate previous owner thought the formal lines called for black and Mr. Taliano agrees.

“It was as good as I thought it would be,” Mr. Taliano says.

His theory of car ownership is that if he can’t drive it he doesn’t want it. “My car is a friend to many people,” he says. With friends along, he has driven to Richmond, Ocean City, Berline and Hershey, Pa., and innumerable times to Baltimore.

He says he had seven passengers with him when he went to the Preakness one year.

For almost four years the Cadillac saga unfolded perfectly until the fateful night of Oct. 18, 2000. At that time he lived in a condominium on Capitol Hill near Massachusetts Avenue and Seventh Street NE. He parked his Cadillac at 9:30 p.m. At 7:30 a.m. on the 19th, the car was gone.

“I broke out in a sweat and felt like I was going to get sick,” Mr. Taliano says. He reported the theft to the police. “I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.”

He telephoned several friends with the sad news, including Alex Figueroa. “The day was a blur,” he says. “All I could think of was that my car was being destroyed by thieves.”

Mr. Figueroa had recently begun working at Bolling AFB. About 4:30 that afternoon he telephoned Mr. Taliano to say, “Dude, I found your car!”

While driving home from work, he saw the Cadillac on the shoulder of South Capitol Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue where the thieves had abandoned it after running the gasoline tank dry.

“That whole day was a roller coaster of emotions,” he remembers. “It was such a surreal experience.”

The thieves had broken a window and worked over the ignition. “My nerves were shot,” Mr. Taliano says, and “I still had to park it in the same place where it had been stolen. I removed the coil that night.

“It’s too bad they didn’t get caught,” Mr. Taliano says. “I’m thankful I got my car back.”

Since then, Mr. Taliano has moved to North Potomac, where he keeps his big, black, Cadillac safely in his garage. After eight years of ownership, he still enjoys getting behind the three-spoke steering wheel attached to a tilt/telescopic column.

The well-appointed interior is air conditioned, has an AM/FM radio and a manually remote-controlled left outside mirror.

Mr. Taliano reports mileage figures between 8 and 14 but those numbers don’t figure in the fun factor.

Regarding the theft ordeal, Mr. Taliano says, “I truly believe that my black 1965 Cadillac was meant for me and I plan on keeping it safe and sound as we grow old together.”

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