- - Thursday, May 26, 2011

All work and no play is not a good thing. In order to recharge your batteries and get your second wind, it’s necessary to take some time off to enjoy yourself in order to rejoin the daily battle with renewed energy.

That’s exactly what Harry Goins does every February when he takes a few days off to attend the annual Car Show and Auction at the Atlantic City Convention Center in New Jersey. It was almost a year ago that he drove up Interstate 95 to kick back a few days, see the cars and meet old friends.

He had no intention of purchasing a car.

No sooner than he had checked into his hotel and headed for the cars on display than a friend who knew his taste in cars approached him, saying, “You’ve got to see this Cadillac.”

As he worked his way through the convention center, other friends repeated the first one’s admonition to see a particular Cadillac. “You’ll know it when you see it,” they assured him.

He turned a corner and there it was, glittering in the reflected glow of myriad spotlights. A red 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. The odometer on the 30-year-old, 18-foot, 9-inch-long Cadillac had recorded only 1,600 miles, an annual average of slightly more than 50 miles.

From the moment he saw the pristine Cadillac, Mr. Goins was doomed. He bought it and then went back to his hotel room to think of ways to explain the purchase to his wife.

He needn’t have been concerned. Barbara, his wife wholeheartedly supported the acquisition of the elegant Cadillac.

Thanks to new U.S. government regulations in place at the time, the output from the 500- cubic-inch V-8 engine was only 190 horsepower. Corresponding with the reduced performance was the speedometer, which was able to record speeds up to 100 mph. All of that power was transferred to the pavement via a three-speed Turbo HydraMatic transmission.

To make the purchase less painful, another friend of Mr. Goins had trailered a car up to the auction and it had sold.

His friend offered his trailer to Mr. Goins so he could haul his Cadillac back to Alexandria, Va

In February Mr. Goins hauled his 5,153-pound Cadillac home.

The 2 1/2-ton car rides on an independent coil springs suspension with automatic level control, both front and rear. Chores to halt the heavy Cadillac were assigned to the four-wheel disc brakes, an unusual feature on 1976 automobiles.

This was the Cadillac that was supposedly going to be the last convertible made in America.

Customers were lined up outside Cadillac dealerships to get one of the last convertibles. Bidding wars broke out for the 14,000 Eldorado convertibles that Cadillac built that model year.

The base price for each convertible was $11,049 and most of them sold for more, way more, than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Mr. Goins discovered that the original owner of his car was Jack Gold, a car collector in Ohio who kept the car in like-new condition and rarely ever drove his prized possesion.

As age caught up with the original owner, he decided to sell his collection and that is where Mr. Goins got lucky by being at the right place at the right time.

Amazingly, Mr. Goins was 100 percent pleased with the car when he got it home. “There were no surprises,” he says, “Not a one.” Every little detail on the car was as it should be.

The center panel on each wheel cover on the Cadillac’s 126.3-inch wheelbase is painted black, as it should be.

Wall-to-wall red carpeting to match the exterior of the car covers the floorboards of the convertible, in stark contrast to the white upholstered seats and matching white convertible top.

Dual white pinstripes accent the curve of the long front fenders of the front-wheel-drive Cadillac all the way back through to the back of the doors.

Although Mr. Goins is quite comfortable whenever he settles into his 6-foot, 8-inch-wide Cadillac, he still finds it difficult to add miles to his like-new car. The odometer has only recently registered another 100 miles in the past year.

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