THE CAR AND ITS OWNERS: 1969 Cadillac DeVille convertible owned by Harley and Ellen Nemzer
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING: The 1969 DeVille, at almost 19 feet long and 4,600 lbs., harks back to a time when these leviathan Cadillacs were still considered the aStandard of the Worlda in luxury cars for wealthy Americans. Premium European brands, such as Mercedes and BMW, were barely causing a ripple in the U.S. auto market, while Acura, Lexus and Infiniti were not yet on the drawing boards. "1969 and 1970 were the last of the traditional rear-wheel-drive Cadillac convertibles," Harley Nemzer says of his big ragtop. "Ours is 'San Mateo Red' with red seats, carpet, dashboard and boot cover. It has a 472-cubic-inch engine with 375 horsepower. It has huge, very effective front disc brakes with variable ratio steering. Driving it is very easy because you can see all four corners when the top is down. They are just far away."
HOW LONG THEY'VE OWNED IT: Since 1992
WHERE THEY FOUND IT: "An elderly couple had it in their barn in Center Moriches," says Nemzer.
CONDITION: "It's in very good condition except for the original leather seats, which have some tears," he says, "but it is a hard-to-find 'Ostricha swirl leather' that was a one-year-only production. The engine only has 130,000 miles and it probably could go another 100,000 without being opened up. Itas very reliable. Parts are still relatively easy to get. It had a quality repaint six years ago."
TIPS FOR OWNERS: "Join a club to meet people with similar interests, advice and part searches," Nemzer advises. "It opens the door to new friendships."
VALUE: The Nemzers estimate their convertible is worth $14,000. Hagerty, the classic car insurer, values this model as high as $33,800 in pristine condition. The original base price was $5,905.
THE BOTTOM LINE: "It is very large and very red," Nemzer says. "Cadillac is a brand that faded in the '70s, but is back with a vengeance."