- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

“The color caught my eye first,” Brenda George says of her Niagara Blue 1934 Cadillac convertible sedan.

Last year, she and her husband, Jim, thought they might be interested in a mid-1930s automobile. After months of shopping, she was leaning toward an Auburn. Her husband, however, persuaded her to consider a Cadillac.

She agreed that Cadillacs of that era were nice, too. In February, they were perusing the Web site of an antique car broker in St. Louis when Mrs. George’s attention was arrested by the striking blue Cadillac.

The broker was selling the car for the Illinois owner. When new, the Cadillac had a base price of $3,045. A prominent Canadian family in Toronto took delivery of the new car.

Within a month, Mrs. George was virtually satisfied that this was the car for her. What finally convinced her was the report she received from a fellow Cadillac LaSalle Club member in St. Louis who, upon her request, inspected the car. He reported that the mechanical brakes needed attention, as did the carburetor. Other than those problems, he said it was a solid automobile that had been professionally restored about a decade earlier.

Mrs. George bought the Cadillac in March and had FedEx truck it to her Haymarket home.

As the truck driver drove the 4,860-pound car off the truck, it was obvious that only the right front brake was functioning.

“It looked better than it did in the pictures,” Mrs. George says. As the driver handed her the keys, he said, “It starts pretty good for a ‘34.”

Mrs. George was anxious to luxuriate in the plush gray leather interior but knew she first had to take care of business.

For weeks she and her husband were under the car, working on the mechanical brake cables.

Finally, all the rust was removed, the freed cables were lubricated and the car actually could stop on demand. Luckily, no parts were needed, only hours of hard labor.

The balky carburetor was adjusted and then the Georges found the lone surprise. The fuel pump needed to be replaced with a rebuilt pump.

The 7.00x17-inch tires support the Cadillac on a 136-inch wheelbase. Cadillac in 1934 moved the spare tire inside the trunk. For those customers who thought a proper motor car should have dual side-mounted spare tires, they were offered as an accessory.

Mrs. George’s car has factory-installed mirrors on the metal shrouds on the spare tires. The back of each mirror is engraved with the Cadillac script.

The interior of the convertible sedan is filled with convenient features including three cigarette lighters.

The rear seat is slightly raised above the level of the front seat to provide better visibility for the backseat passengers.

Those same passengers are treated to a foot rest to make long trips more enjoyable.

A push button installed on the left end of the dashboard activates the starter, replacing the foot starter.

The battery is located in a cradle below the floor boards under the driver’s seat.

The hand brake, which formerly sprouted from the floor, was moved to the left side of the car under the dashboard.

The gear shift lever was left on the floor for a few more years.

Seated behind the three-spoke steering wheel, the driver looks through a windshield that is raked at 18 degrees. Vacuum wipers keep the aerodynamic windshield clear.

On the outside on a narrow cowl, a ventilator hinged at the front draws fresh air inside.

Efforts were also made to feed cool air to the 353-cubic-inch V-8 engine.

A snorkel on the air cleaner runs forward to suck in air ahead of the radiator.

Under the front end of the car was General Motors’ famous “Knee Action” independent coil spring suspension.

At both ends of the handsome convertible sedan are stylish two-piece bumpers reminiscent of the wings on a biplane.

That impractical style of bumpers lasted only one year.

Parking lights are incorporated into the design of the stanchions supporting the headlights.

Red wire wheels are hidden behind the huge wheel-cover discs. The “dust covers” supposedly give the car a more substantial appearance.

At the rear of the Cadillac is the optional trunk mounted on a rack. Inside the trunk is a set of fitted luggage with the original keys still attached.

Mrs. George doesn’t foresee using the luggage on any journey but after her Cadillac hibernates this winter, she is looking forward to driving it on some short springtime road trips.

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