This is the story of a car obsession. The family asks that the actual names not be published, but otherwise the story is true in every particular. In the late 50s, Roy was a typical “1960s father” who cared for his family, but was never really close or part of it. All of his friends and peers used to regard him as one of the smartest people they knew… and it was probably true. He ended up being self taught in electronics for years before going to school to finally get his degree. Roy’s family has always looked at the story of his decline with sadness, seeing someone so brilliant fall into such a delusional place in his later years.
Roy’s neighbor in 1958 bought a brand new Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special, as they did every two years. That car spoke to Roy and he was determined to have it. In 1958, it was nearly the pinnacle of luxury and, after all, Cadillac was the “Standard Of Excellence.
He pestered his neighbor, almost from the day they bought the car, to sell it to him. He always intended to get it with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer and he was determined to keep it that way. It didn’t happen. When Roy bought it, the odometer had rolled past the 10k mark, just barely, and he was quite upset. But he bought it anyway.
In those days, that was okay. Any obsession that wasn’t particularly severe could go unnoticed, and things would go on just fine. Early on, though, Roy’s obsession with the Cadillac was clear. In his wife’s words, it was like “him getting to pick out his favorite child from a group, and dote all his attention just on that child. But for him it was a car, and not a child.”After Roy bought it, he hardly ever drove it.
Over the years, he kept it in the home garage. He’d fire it up, wash and wax it, but then never went on any long drives. So, from 1961 for another decade, Roy only drove the Cadillac about 400 miles. Really. Other than a funeral once, most trips were about a mile down the road to his friend’s shop to clean and detail the car, about two times a year.
The last time the car was driven was in 1969 and the last time it was registered was in 1972. But even then it was never driven in most people’s sense of the word. In 1980, Roy bought a house “in the country,” an hour and a half outside of Chicago. The car remained in the city garage, completely untouched, until 1989 when it was brought to the country house. Over time, Roy became more and more protective of the car, allowing no one to drive it or sit in it.