1978/1990 Courier Cadillac
Registration no. HLN 827V
Chassis no. 6S69B8Q493526
Undoubtedly the most unusual car in the auction, this one-off Cadillac prototype was conceived by the current owner's company, Courier Products, in the late 1980s as a quality, everyday driveable alternative to the growing replica market, and as a compliment to the great automotive styles of the 1930s. Hence the attention to detail in both the overall proportions, the full-flowing aluminium panelling, and the quality and accuracy of the fittings.
The ultimate aim was for maximum luxury, relaxing drive-ability and the best possible handling and roadholding, all in 1930s style. The decision to use the downsized 1976-78 Cadillac Seville, proven internationally and already with many of these qualities, was a natural, both for its robust reliability and as the product of a top-name marque. A team of local companies took on what initially appeared straightforward, only to discover otherwise.
Despite enthusiasm from General Motors, Cadillac and others, the sheer complexity of the undertaking, aggravated by the early 1990s recession, prevented any more being produced. Rather than abandoning the project, local enthusiasts rallied to complete the car as a labour of love. All the Seville's modern conveniences ended up being included, from cruise control and air-conditioning to auto-dip headlights, boot-lid pull-down and any others discovered on the way. Its drive-ability and handling owes much to the contributions made by other like-minded enthusiasts, without whom many of the articles and write-ups that followed, both here and abroad, would likely not have been forthcoming. As a fixed-head coupé rather than a true roadster, the car was legally able to remain a 1978 Cadillac Seville, thus avoiding the dreaded 'Q' plates.
All attempts over the years to resurrect the project have met with estimates running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, making it quite impractical to do so, while at the same time confirming the difficulties involved in combining 1930s styling with modern drive-ability. Ongoing questioning eventually persuaded the owner to commit the story to paper, but in a non-technical, more entertaining form. 'Sidetracked, A True Life Motoring Saga' was published in 2005 and sold as a fund-raiser for 'BEN', the motor trades charity.
Although far too lengthy to reproduce here, a detailed list of the car's specifications is available for inspection. Highlights include a 6.6-litre, fuel-injected V8 engine producing around 300bhp and 400ft/lbs of torque; three-speed Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission; limited-slip differential; varying-ratio power assisted steering; up-rated spring and damping rates; stiffer rear anti-roll bar; and increased brakeing. Some 40,000 miles have been covered since the original conversion and 28,000-plus since the engine was upgraded from the stock 5.7 litres.
This Courier Coupé is featured in 'The Cadillac Century' by John Heilig (copy available) in the 'Dream Cars' section where it is afforded three pages of pictures and text, more than any other car in the book! Currently taxed/MoT'd, this unique vehicle is offered with Cadillac correspondence, MIRA test results (maximum speedometer reading 125mph), Swansea V5 document, and a letter from Goodwood-based Mithril Racing. Of particular interest, Mithril's letter quotes the company's main professional driver Chris Snowdon, who tested the Courier Cadillac at the Sussex circuit. 'The car is very impressive. It handles like the current Bentley Brooklands... and that is quite a compliment. It is beautifully neutral on the circuit, handling Goodwood's ultra high-speed corners feeling nicely balanced with only a hint of reassuring understeer when you really push hard.'
Also available for inspection are some interesting and informative newspaper and magazine articles and many complimentary letters, both from the UK and abroad. In one magazine, editor Westley Peterson of Car Collector in the US, states 'We consider the car to be one of the best looking neo-classics ever built'.