Images by Trent Sherrill, Additional Specs and Information by Joe Babiasz Model: Sydney Barlette Hair: Megan Roper Dress: Bettie Page Clothing
During his tenure at GM, Harley Earl’s design studio created the most radical and memorable designs in the manufacturer’s history. One of his rarest and most revered designs came in the form of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville. With a production number of only 2100 vehicles, many car enthusiasts believe that you should restore these rarities to factory specifications, not reshape them into a one-of-a-kind custom. However, with the unique Cadillac displayed here, Jeff Myers not only defied conventional wisdom, he redefined it.
Improving on the revered design of a 1957 Cadillac Seville would require an experienced and visionary car customizer, and maybe a few good friends to chip in here and there. With his years of experience in paint and bodywork and with several customs already under his belt, Jeff felt he had the experience and vision required for the project. And as a member of the famous Beatniks car club, well, he had a few knowledgeable friends to help out too. Knowing he was treading on potentially sacred ground, Jeff set out with a vision to build an unmistakable custom, while still retaining the elegance of a Cadillac.
Oddly enough, Jeff never searched for the Cadillac. A customer brought the car to his shop in Arkansas City, Kansas for restoration and mild customizations after purchasing the car online. Located in Chicago and not running, the car was trailered to Jeff’s shop. Shortly after the project was under way, the owner had a change of heart and decided to part ways with Cadillac. Jeff had no intentions of letting a car this rare slip through his hands, and he quickly gathered the funds (and blessing from his wife) to purchase it. Now in his possession, he had the opportunity to take the project in the direction he wished and build a custom that rivaled anything currently on the scene.
Jeff knew in order to give the Seville a true custom look, the tall roofline had to be lowered. However, unlike shoebox Fords or Chevy Bel Airs, few people have ever chopped a Cadillac, especially one this rare. Jeff knew this would be the most challenging chop he had ever attempted. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Jeff proceeded to chop the Cadillac’s roof four inches. Adding to the complexity of the chop were the curved front and rear windows and the tapered angle of the roofline at the rear of the quarter windows. With the top back on the car, the sleeker look would have been enough for most customizers, but Jeff was striving for perfection. An unfortunate side effect to achieving perfection is also becoming a glutton for punishment. Once the chop was complete, Jeff not only made sure that the rear quarter windows rolled down, but also painstakingly reattached the chrome “flappers” along the roofline used to create a tighter seal around the window frames. By bringing the roofline down, the famous Cadillac shark fins that protruded from the rear deck seemed less eye catching. To draw attention back to the fins and balance out the overall design of the car, Jeff welded in additional metal to the fins to raise their height. Traditional touches were added, such as shaved door handles and badges. The front fenders were enhanced by adding a peaked body line on top, starting from the headlight and stretching back past the dummy spotlights before receding back into the body just forward of the door seam. Enhancements were also made to the factory body lines along the side of the car. Originally running from the headlights back to the middle of the doors, they were extended the across the entire length of the doors and into the rear quarter panel. Jeff molded in custom lips around the front and rear bumpers to create a more flowing and less jagged look. Vents were cut in the cowl and along the front edge of the wheel wells of the front fenders. Mesh grilles were inset into the new vents to add a subtle and tasteful touch. Finishing out the body modifications, Jeff rounded the trunk corners to create more shapely lines for the rear of the car.
Now with the custom Cadillac as a canvas, Jeff was eager to get into a paint booth. He called up House of Kolor and ordered a custom Candy Wild Cherry blend with red fireball mini flake. Jeff sprayed the car himself at Premier Paint and Body. After the color was applied, a coat of clear was added and then buffed down, before spraying on an additional and final coat of clear. The result is a deep purple hue that sparkles in the light but looks a sinister black when the sun goes down. To further accentuate the custom body lines atop the front fender, additional metal flake was sprayed along the peaks, and Kansas City pinstriping artist Blaino outlined each in silver pinstripe. Additional flake and pinstripe was also added along the edges and corners of the roof.
Split rear bumpers were styling standouts for late-Fifties Cadillacs. In factory trim, the exhaust pipes exited through openings in the bumper. Although this style was revolutionary, it was notorious for rotting, as water could collect around the openings in the bumper. With the help of Clay Melton, fresh aluminum was formed and welded to the original bumpers to reinforce the rotted areas. Instead of running the exhaust through the outlets in the bumpers, bullet taillights from a 1959 Cadillac were mounted inside the opening, and the exhaust was rerouted to exit just below the bumper.
The Cadillac’s stance was brought to the ground using lowering blocks out back and new coils for a 1980s GM Pickup with an inch lobbed off for the front. Buick wire wheels from a 1953 Skylark were selected to fill the wheel wells. And what custom car would be complete without a set of whitewalls from Coker Tires?
One peek inside the interior solidifies this Cadillac’s place as one of the premier customs on the road today. Renowned interior shop Fat Lucky’s in Austin, Texas was the obvious choice to create an interior exceptional enough to complement the exterior of the Cadillac. White Naugahyde was selected to encase the seats and panel. Before the stitching could begin, Jeff had a few other ideas in mind to set the interior apart from any other. The first order of business was to yank out the large bench seats in favor of front and rear buckets from a mid-Sixties Buick Riviera. As an added bonus, the front buckets were placed on swivels. With buckets all the way around, a custom console would have to be built. This created an opportunity to add yet another exclusive touch to the Cadillac’s interior. Once the measurements were made, the console was fabricated and wrapped in the same white Naugahyde used for the seats. Stereo controls were inlaid on console, and clear acrylic piping was used to raise the console off the floorboard, creating a floating effect, and as trim around the edges. A matching upper console was also created and mounted along the roof on the interior. Armrests on the doors were treated to the same acrylic trim. More than fifty lights were inset throughout the acrylics and when lit at night, a ghostly glow emits from the inside the Cadillac. With what was now already a completely trendsetting interior, most would have been satisfied. But standard show quality was never the plan. Every other aspect of this build had essentially raised the bar another notch, so why stop there? To keep pace with the over-the-top theme, sheets of pearl white pick guard material used in crafting guitars was molded into the upper door panels, and actual red guitar picks highlight the panels on both sides. The material was also added onto the tops of the brake and gas pedal. In order to cool the cabin on the long road trips to car shows, Jeff installed a Vintage Air system. Rounding out the one of a kind interior is a hand painted, Beatniks’ skull and Koolsville logo across the dash, courtesy of fellow Beatnik and acclaimed custom painter Dennis McPhail.
Although 1957 Cadillacs came standard with a 365ci V-8 that produced 300 hp, Jeff opted for more power and reliability and dropped in a larger 472ci V-8 and TH400 out of a later model Cadillac. The engine was not rebuilt before being shoehorned into the Seville, but Jeff says the next step in the project is to rebuild the potent mill. If the rest of the Cadillac is any indication of what lies in store for the rebuild, car enthusiasts will be lining up to get a glimpse underneath the hood.
Of all the accolades Jeff has received for his Cadillac, one of his favorites came at a car show in California, when a bystander noticed the Kansas license plates and asked, “You trailered that all the way from Kansas?!” Generally not a man of many words, Jeff simply shot back that this one was no trailer queen. And when you drive a Cadillac as kool as this, what else do you really need to say?
Jeff Myers’ 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
Body Manufacturer –Cadillac Model –Eldorado Seville 2-door Hardtop Color –Custom Candy Wild Cherry from House of Kolor with Red Fireball Mini Flake Painter –Jeff Myers Pinstripe –Silver Pinstripe by Blaino (Blaine Scott) Custom Body Modifications –Roof chopped 4”, lips molded around front and rear bumpers, shaved door handles, shaved badges, tailfins enlarged, vents cut in cowl and fenders, trunk corners rounded Bodywork –Jeff Myers Bumpers –1959 Cadillac rear bullet tailights frenched into rear bumpers by Craig Melton Grille –1958 Ford mesh grille
Engine and Transmission Manufacturer –Cadillac Displacements –472 ci Induction –Quadrajet 4bbl Carburetor Transmission –TH400
Chassis Manufacturer –Cadillac Rear Suspension –Lowering blocks Front Suspension –Coils for 1980s GM Pickup with 1” cutoff Brakes –Drums Wheels –1953 Buick Skylark 15x7 Wires Tires –Coker Whitewalls
Interior Seats –1964 Riviera, fronts swivel mounted Stereo –KICKER Upholstery –White Naugahyde Upholsterer –Fat Lucky’s Air Conditioning –Vintage Air Dashboard –Custom graphics by Dennis McPhail Additional Custom Modifications –Floating upper and lower console, clear acrylic piping with custom lighting throughout consoles and armrests
Stock 1957 Cadillac
Specifications Number built– 146,841 (total Cadillac production) Construction– Body-on-frame Engine– 365ci V-8 Power/Torque– 300hp/400 lb-ft torque Transmission– Four-speed hydramatic Suspension front– Unequal length upper and lower control arms with coil springs and anti-roll bar Suspension rear– Semi-elliptical leaf springs Steering– Saginaw ball nut and sector Brakes– Four-wheel drum, 12-inch front and rear Length/width/height– 220.9/80.0/57.7 inches Wheelbase– 129.5 inches Weight– 4,569 pounds 0-60mph/quarter mile– 12.4 seconds, 18.6 seconds at 75 mph (Motor Trend, June 1957) MPG– 12.8 mpg average for 512 mile test Price– MSRP - $7286; Today – $17,900-$42,100
Fuel For Thought Hydramatic, power steering and power brakes were standard equipment in 1957 Compression was increased from 9.75:1 to 10.0:1 Charles Jordan was Cadillac’s chief designer Full wraparound windshield All new sheetmetal
What To Pay 1957 Cadillac Seville MSRP – $7,286 Low – $17,900 Average – $29,800 High – $42,100 *Based on prices from the Classic Cars and Parts Price Guide, fueled by NADA and available wherever Kustoms and Hot Rods magazines are sold.
Insurance cost Insurance cost is $271/year for a stock 1957 Cadillac valued at $29,800. For a modified vehicle, insurance cost is $318/year. This is based on 3,000 miles per year of pleasure driving. *Based on a quote from Heacock Classic Car Insurance, www.heacockclassic.com
1957 Lincoln Premier Number built– 35,223 0-60/quarter mile– 11.3 seconds/17.9 seconds at 80 mph Price– MSRP – $5,149; Today – $6,150-$37,000
1957 Chrysler New Yorker Number built– 33,229 0-60/quarter mile– 9.8 seconds/17.8 seconds at 78.5 mph Price– MSRP – $4,202; Today – $6,300-$14,150
Parts Prices Fuel tank - $600.00 Fuel pump - $125.00 Door sill - $350.00 Engine gasket kit - $165.00 Master cylinder - $225.00 Power steering pump - $295.00 Gold hood crest bezel - $225.00 *Based on information from All Cads Inc., www.allcads.com
Books Cadillacby Robert J. Headrick Jr. Cadillac 1948-1958 Performance Portfolioby R. M. Clarke Standard Catalog of Cadillacby John Gunnell The Cadillac Storyby Thomas Bonsall Cadillac: 100 Years of Innovationby Angelo Van Bogart