1959 Cadillac Custom Coupe ‘Wild Cad’
HIGHLIGHTS: – Arguably Australia’s most famous custom car – 6 year, ground up custom build – Painted by world famous Gene Winfield in PPG ‘Fade away’ – Custom built chassis with Airbag suspension – Extensive body modifications and custom fabricated interior – 454ci Chevy V8 engine – TH400 automatic transmission – Multi award winning vehicle in Australia and America
This 1959 Cadillac coupe dubbed ‘Wild Cad’ is arguably Australia’s most famous custom car. It is a rolling piece of art created by master custom car builder, the late Mr Mario Colalillo. Mario has built many notable cars over the years but Wild Cad is widely regarded as his greatest and most famous build.
Mario’s journey with the car began when he spotted the shell of a 1959 Caddy Coupe Deville in the corner of an old friend’s workshop. The car was missing all of the front sheet metal and the roof had been cut off but it was the perfect starting point for his vision. Mario decided to build a full custom chassis for the Caddy with the assistance of chassis guru Terry Cartwright. The chassis was carefully planned out to ensure nothing was hanging down below the car so it could air right out without damaging anything, sitting on neat titanium blocks when all the way down. The Air Ride Technologies suspension is controlled using a Dakota Digital control panel. The front is a custom IFS set up with four link in the rear.
The body of the car itself has been through countless modifications. The most obvious is the roof which has been chopped and lowered 5 inches along with custom made front and rear glass. The power operated tilt hood has been shortened up front and extended in the rear to delete the cowl panel. The doors were converted to suicide and open using power rams. The trunk is also shortened and power operated. Underneath the chassis is grafted to the new inner sill panels. The floors, firewall, inner guards and front apron have all been custom fabricated and smoothed. The badges, door handles and mirrors were all shaved for a slick, seamless look. The entire body was then painted inside and out as well as underneath by the famous Gene Winfield in his iconic ‘Fade-away’ style. Gene was flown to Australia for the job and the car was painted in conjunction with PPG paints who sponsored the car. The paint work is truly one of a kind and the incredible result is estimated to be worth $200,000 alone. Other custom touches to the outside of the body were a custom fabricated front grille featuring ’55 DeSoto centre bar and teeth with 1955 Cadillac bullets. The rear filler panel is custom stainless while the rear bumper was modified to house Thunderbird tail lights and extended to accommodate the custom centre exit exhaust. The look is completed with a set of Radir 15” wheels with Coker wide white wall tyres.
Moving to the interior there is as much custom work as outside. The full metal constructed interior is a work of art and features a centre mounted 1959 Chevy gauge cluster with Classic Instruments gauges. The custom full length centre console houses a 1959 Caddy tail fin which this car has become iconic. A full custom metal headliner was created from a second roof skin. The front seats are retrimmed Thunderbird buckets and the steering position is now right-hand drive, a sign of its Aussie build. The interior door panels are all metal with upholstered inserts. The custom floor houses the automatic quick shifter with custom ‘Beatniks’ gear knob, a nod to Mario’s car club. The trunk has also been decked out with custom panels and neatly finished. The amount of custom fabrication and attention to detail throughout the whole interior is mind boggling.
Not all just looks, under the bonnet is a 454ci Chevy big block V8 engine making 450 hp. The engine bay is neatly detailed chrome covers and custom painted air cleaner. The inner guards and under side of the bonnet are all custom fabbed, smoothed and painted. The engine is paired to a TH400, 3 speed automatic transmission. Power is fed to the rear wheels via a custom painted driveshaft and into a Ford 9 inch diff. The brakes have all been upgraded using Wilwood items.
The build of the car took place over a 6 year period and was a dedication of love from Mario as well as his family and friends. Wild Cad has won a huge number of prestigious awards both here and in the USA where it was shown at several events. Some of these accolades include:
- Australia’s Top Custom @ Sydney Motorex, July 2010
- Kustom D’Elegance Finalist @ Long beach Motorama, September 2010
- GM Design Excellence Award @ SEMA Las Vegas, November 2010
- Top Radical Custom Hardtop & The George Barris Kustom D’Elegance Award at The Grand National Roadster Show, January 2011
The car was also featured in many magazines including on the front cover of both Street Machine and Cruzin Magazines here in Australia. Since completion, the car has only travelled approximately 11 kms and has always been well maintained and cared for. Wild Cad has drawn admiration from all around the world including many high-profile celebrities and custom car builders. This is a rare opportunity to own a one-off rolling artwork and one of the world’s most famous custom Caddy’s.
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