From Part Work to Unique Model – 1966 Cadillac Four Door Hardtop De Ville.

By John Quilter

All Photographs by, and copyright of, the Author.

By 1965 Cadillac styling had become more subdued in comparison to the wild chrome laden, tail-finned cars of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Perhaps the tail fin had run its course as a styling gimmick. Or perhaps the popularity of the conservatively styled Lincoln Continental sedans and four door convertibles launched in 1961 was the beginning of a new trend. While American luxury cars were still huge by any international standards they were, by the mid 1960s at least not so over styled.

Cadillac’s 1965 cars wore all new styling and this body shell carried over to 1966 with only minor rear tail lamp, front grill and other trim changes. These were the most conservatively styled Cadillacs in well over a decade. Still massive with a 224 inch length and 129.5 inch wheelbase for the base de Ville series, they were powered by a 429 CID (7 liter) V8 driving through a relatively new three speed Turbo Hydromatic 400 automatic gearbox.

A part works series from Mexico has featured a diecast version of the 1966 Coupe de Ville in a gold colour. Nicely done in an accurate 1:43 scale, the only nitpick is that it has blackwall tires which would have been decidedly unlikely on a new car at the time.

Some of these partworks series are leaking out via sellers on eBay and this Mexican subscription series includes a large number of interesting cars, American, Japanese, French, German and others.

The count of the planned models stands at 61 as of this writing. Details can be found at:

Authors side note: this website even has a feature that shows where those that have visited the site are located. Quite interesting and shows there is a fair amount of interest in these cars from outside Mexico.

The Cadillac is one that I acquired in duplicate with the intention of plying my modification skills once again. This time it was a conversion from a Coupe de Ville to a four door Hardtop De Ville. Unlike some car companies, Cadillac assisted me in this effort by having a standard length top and a uniform “Dutchman” panel between the trunk and the rear window. Therefore the conversion only required a removal of the base plate, all chrome pieces, glazing, and a paint striping. Another bonus was the windscreen and rear back light were the same from coupe to sedan.

The real work was on the side where I had to score in new door shut lines using Google images as a guide. The side windows were created with clear plastic (clam shell clear plastic food containers provide a good source of this material) with a chrome chart tape divider between the front and rear side windows. I chose a representative green colour from the available colours for the 1966 model year. Again easily researched on Google but I also have copies of the original factory sales brochures as guides.

The grills on both were improved with a black wash and both got thin whitewall tires using a new method I have perfected. This is done by forming four rings of the correct diameter using an appropriate gauge wire. Once all are formed and checked for uniformity I spray them white and when dry simply glue them to the tire. While not absolutely flat they still are a fair representation of this era of whitewall.

I’ve also been working with new paints to approximate the factory colours since I like to keep to originality and have had good success with them and a “Testors Model Master” clear coat on top to provide almost production model gloss. A flat black vinyl top could have been done as these were optional on the cars in 1966 but I chose a single colour green for roof and body. The diecast has a small tampo printed ridge for the full length side moulding but I accentuated this with a 1/64″ wide piece of chrome graphic art tape made by Letraset.

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