- - Thursday, October 11, 2012

More than 40 years have passed since the rear fenders of any Cadillac had fins, but David Urgo, a free-lance video editor and graphic designer for television, remains hooked on them.

His fascination with Cadillac’s styling statement started in Utica, N.Y., next door to his grandmother’s house. The neighbor lady had a very successful son who bought her a new Cadillac every year. Consequently, every visit to his grandmother was an opportunity to closely examine the latest Cadillac and its fins.

Since then, Mr. Urgo has collected a houseful of tailfin Cadillac memorabilia.

In 1998, while living in Los Angeles, he saw a 1960 Cadillac convertible for sale in Santa Monica. While he was thinking about how to finance the car, it was sold. That was the catalyst that spurred him to decide the time had come to acquire the real deal.

The search for a 1960 Cadillac convertible eventually led him to inspect likely candidates in California, Texas, New Jersey, Nevada and finally Florida.

By then, the hunt for the elusive car had consumed three years and Mr. Urgo was in the moving to Virginia. He found time in October 2001 to inspect a Cadillac in Titusville, Fla.

The owner had purchased the 18-foot, 9-inch-long car 10 years before from a California movie studio. Both the 390-cubic-inch V-8 engine and the automatic transmission had been rebuilt, with to the engine output raised beyond the original 325 horsepower.

Mr. Urgo reports that the Cadillac left the factory wearing a blue convertible top over a white body. That color combination has been reversed, with the body coated in an authentic Lucerne blue and the top is white. When the top, with its plastic rear window, is lowered, the unsightly hinges are hidden from view by a boot secured by 28 snaps. Even the convertible top bows have been repainted to correctly match the body color.

On Nov. 4, 2001, he purchased the 4,850-pound Cadillac convertible, one of 14,000 such models manufactured in 1960. When new, its base price was $5,455.

Mr. Urgo went home to Alexandria to anxiously await the arrival of his new/old car. A few day later he received a telephone call from the embarrassed seller in Florida explaining that when the truck arrived to transport the car the battery in the car was dead. The car had to be jump-started.

Mr. Urgo told the seller that if that was the worst of his problems, he would be happy.

When the Cadillac arrived in Alexandria it, indeed, had to be jump-started and, as it was being offloaded, all he could think after all these years was, ‘There is my finned beast.’

Every aspect of the Cadillac is enormous. The car rides on a 130-inch wheelbase and, with the graceful fins, Mr. Urgo equates the attention he gets while driving it to ‘being a rock star.’ Even the fender skirts are huge at 37 inches in length.

Mr. Urgo has discovered that the restoration of an antique automobile is never complete, but instead a work in progress. Both of the mammoth bumpers had been replated with lots of chrome. A small door above the rear bumper, cleverly disguised as part of the trim, conceals the gas filler pipe.

‘Every place we go is a car show,’ Mr. Urgo says about the attention given to the car.

The odometer recently rolled over 67,000 miles, which he cannot verify as accurate.

He says he recently invested too much money in returning the air conditioner to working order. However, he’s sure that when the hot summer months arrive he will be glad that he not only looks cool, but is cool, cruising in his Cadillac.

Mr. Urgo isn’t reluctant to take his Cadillac on shopping errands because the trunk and back seat can swallow the largest items. ‘I tell people it’s our SUV,’ he says. ‘It’s about the same size as a SUV, gets the same mileage, is better looking and won’t roll over.’

Left unsaid is, ‘and it has fins.’

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