Northwest Wanderings | An occasional series of scenes from a journey through our region.
Who would spend $900 on a vine-covered, 77-year-old car that doesn’t run, with a rusted-out floor and so many dead rats in the upholstery they’d have to be shoveled out?
Jim Sullivan would — and did.
He bought this 1941 Cadillac Series 63 in need of a year of restoration.
Only 1,750 were made, and no more than a couple of hundred survive.
“It was nasty.”
He transported it to his classic-car garage in Gig Harbor.
The engine was good and not frozen, though it hadn’t run for decades.
He’ll “redo the body, the frame, the interior. It’s a lot of work and love.”
“It’ll take many thousands just to do the chrome.”
Sullivan is wrapped up in the history of this era, the coachbuilders, the thick metal.
He says, “It’s real metal. Think hard-stuff, manly metal.
“When it’s done it’ll be worth $120,000, give or take.”
The first car Sullivan owned was a 1966 MGB, British-made.
“I learned to love it and hate it. It was troublesome.”
The dual carburetors were “constantly spitting and sputtering.”
He didn’t have the money to have it worked on, so he learned to do it himself.
His garage’s policy is to work on anything built from 1886 to 1970.
Currently, work is being done on an all-aluminum-body 1969 Mercedes 280 SL sports car.
Only the shell sits on jacks. It’s unpainted.
Sullivan calls it “a rotisserie job.” Everything needs to be done, top to bottom.
In for a mechanical upgrade is a rare 1954 EMW Cabriolet. Eisenacher Motorenwerk was an East German car builder.
Only 500 of the cars were made. Two hundred were Cabriolets.
Sullivan says it’s not for sale, but if the owner put it up for sale “who knows what it would bring?”
The paint is a deep, silver sea. “It’s one layer after another of perfection.” He estimates that paint would cost more than most new cars.
A short drive from his garage, he’s constructing a small, classic-car museum.
It’s also intended to be a teaching environment for a handful of local high-school students. Twice a week they’ll learn repair skills, and indirectly math and science. He hopes to have this going by the end of March.
They’ll likely learn phrases no longer in common use.
A 1948 Hudson he just shipped to Holland has “a Super 6, straight, 22,000 original miles and three on the tree.” That would be a manual, three-speed transmission with the shifter up high on the steering column. “It runs great.”
These vehicles are not for everyday use.
They’re for the person “who says, ‘I gotta have it.’ ”
His more practical side means getting around daily in a Subaru or GMC Denali.