Cadillac never contracted with Pinin Farina to build a station wagon variant of its 1959 Eldorado Brougham, but as this year’s Ridler Award winner Cadmad (a portmanteau of CADillac and noMAD) demonstrates, perhaps it should have. The stunning custom won a posthumous victory for its late owner, Steve Barton, at last weekend’s Detroit Autorama at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.
Built by Jordan Quintal II and Super Rides by Jordan in Escondido, California, Cadmad is a most unlikely creation. The starting point was a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, a no-expense-spared luxury sedan with a body handcrafted by Pinin Farina in Italy. Just 99 examples were built for 1959, each priced at $13,074, at a time when other Cadillac Eldorado models – two-door hardtops or convertibles – listed for $7,401. To this rare original, Super Rides by Jordan grafted on the roof of a Pontiac Safari station wagon, though the process was hardly that simple.
To carry over the two-door wagon theme, the Eldorado’s rear doors were removed, while the front doors were lengthened by six inches. The body was sectioned to remove 2.5 inches, while from nose to tail the Cadillac lost 18.5 inches in overall length. The body was narrowed as well, losing four inches in the process, while the station wagon’s roof was lengthened slightly and chopped by about two inches. The modifications required custom rear glass, as well as a fabricated rear hatch.
Underneath, Cadmad rides on a frame constructed of 1 5/8-inch steel tubing, with a fully independent suspension in front and rear. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged, 632-cu.in. Chevy big-block V-8, built by Nelson Racing Engines to an output of 1,025 horsepower and 950-pound-feet of torque. Instead of mating this monster mill directly to a transmission, the custom uses a 4L60 plugged into a C5 Corvette transaxle housing, shifting some of the weight to the car’s rear.
The paint is a hue called Fawntana Rose, said to be similar to a shade offered by Cadillac on its 1961 models, while the wheels are custom fabrications from Evod, meant to closely resemble the wheel covers delivered on 1959 Eldorado Brougham models. The interior was crafted by Ron Marqus, and features a custom-built dash (with Classic Instruments gauges) and reupholstered Cadillac CTS-V bucket seats. The cargo area sports an inlaid wood design, a theme that’s carried over to the door trim, dashboard, and even center consoles.
The Cadmad was said to be 16 years in the making, and from the very beginning was designed and built with the Ridler Award as its ultimate goal. When owner Steve Barton died at age 76 in January 2018, the decision was made to carry on with the project in his memory, and Steve’s brother Craig was on hand to accept the award in his late brother’s absence.
The other Great 8 finalists in contention for the Ridler Award were a 1941 Willys coupe, owned and built by Quint Walberts of Danville, Indiana; a 1964 GM Acadian, owned by Danny, Sandy, and Cody Jadresko of Victoria, British Columbia, and built by J.F. Launier of JF Kustoms; a 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle, owned by Sonny Freeman of Lafayette, Louisiana, and built by Mike Goldman of Mike Goldman Customs; a 1932 Ford Victoria, owned by Phil and Debbie Becker of Dwight, Illinois, and built by Dave Lane of Fast Lane Rod Shop; a 1935 Ford Slantback, owned and built by Robert and Lorna Chapman of Ontario, California; a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro owned by Pat and Debbie Moran of Harrison Township, Michigan, and built by Willy Peart of Willy’s Workshop; and a 1947 Ford Sedan Delivery, owned by Mel Harbaugh of Ottawa Lake, Michigan, and built by Chris Dixon of Wounded Knee Motors.
The Ridler Award, sponsored by car care company Meguiar’s, honors the memory of Don Ridler, a gifted event promoter who helped to establish the Detroit Autorama as one of the country’s premier custom car shows. Ridler died in 1963 at the age of 54, and the award has been presented annually since 1964. To qualify for the trophy and $10,000 check that accompanies it today, vehicles must be making their show debut at the Detroit Autorama. All must be operable as well, and able to drive in forward and reverse (and turn left and right) under their own power.