- - Thursday, June 9, 2011

Among many of the cars Derrick Fisher’s family had as he was growing up was a 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Like all the other cars that came into his life, it eventually went away. But he never forgot about that 1960 Cadillac.

It was in the late 1980s when, he says, “I started passively looking.” He saw several 1960 Cadillacs but none that satisfied his requirements. He wanted a virtually perfect car so the slightest imperfection would be grounds for rejection. “The 1960 model was the neatest Cadillac with the slickest lines,” he says. “It was refined with restrained styling.”

Eventually the search led to a Madison, Wisc., automobile broker who was selling a white 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville that had been purchased new at the Kahn Cadillac dealership in Butler, Mo. Mr. Fisher flew to Wisconsin for a close inspection and found what he calls “a positive car.” The only flaws he could detect were worn-out brakes and a leaking heater core, both of which easily could be fixed.

Another good omen was, he says, “It had the same Inverness green and Chadwick cloth and leather interior as the one my parents had that I remembered as a kid. There was some serious deja vu going on.”

In the spring of 1989 he bought the sleek Cadillac and arranged to have the 18-foot 9-inch-long car trucked to his Rockville home. The car had been driven only 46,000 miles when he took delivery. Once Mr. Fisher had the car at home, a trusted local mechanic gave the 4,705-pound Cadillac a thorough physical examination.

As expected, a new heater core was installed along with a new set of brakes. Mr. Fisher recalls the mechanic saying, “The tires are egg-shaped.” The 8.20x15-inch U.S. Royals were replaced with radials except for the original spare tire. With new gas shock absorbers supporting the car, Mr. Fisher recalls, “It rode and drove like a million bucks.”

Since then Mr. Fisher has replaced the carburetor on the 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine and replaced the dual exhaust system.

The Coupe de Ville is well equipped including:

AM radio.

Power seats.

Autronic eye.

Power brakes.

Power antenna.

Power steering.

Power windows.

Air conditioning.

Front and rear floor mats.

The two-spoke two-tone steering wheel blends in nicely with the upholstery. When the steering wheel is turned to one extreme or the other, the Cadillac, riding on a 130-inch wheelbase, can be turned in a 48.4-foot circle. It’s often easier just to drive around the block.

Even with almost six inches of ground clearance, Mr. Fisher has to be cautious when entering or leaving sharp inclines to avoid scraping the rear bumper.

With the powerful V-8 churning out 325 horsepower, Mr. Fisher in 2002 drove he dream car to Michigan to take part in the Grand National Cadillac show to celebrate Cadillac’s 100th anniversary.

On the open highway, Mr. Fisher says his car sometimes exhibits what he calls “the elevator effect.” Upon sudden acceleration, he says, his Cadillac drops down for a brief period and then slowly rises back up in a comfortable, dignified manner.

Now that he has owned his 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville for 17 years, he reports that it runs better than ever. The odometer how reads 54,000 miles, which amounts to an average of slightly less than 500 miles a year since he has been in command.

When new the base price of the Cadillac was $5,252. Mr. Fisher is pleased that he has one of the 21,585 models Cadillac built that model year.

“It runs so good that it’s scary,” he says happily.

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