For Jack and Mari Anne, those glory days are not so far away
The exceedingly rare Cad we bring you this month has been a fixture for most of Jack Ketlinski’s life, though not in the condition it is now. Back in his high school days, Jack’s friend owned this very drop-top; he and the boys used to pile in, pick up their best girl and terrorize the town on two wheels. What a sight that must have been to see a Cadillac convertible packed full of teens, you can just see the local law enforcement grimace and turn the other way when this barge came ripping into town. Many years out of high school, Jack and his wife Mari Anne were living in Idaho, when Jack got a call from an old friend back home that owned a scrap yard. He was calling to let Jack know that the old Caddy just came in on a flatbed, destined to be cubed and remade into Maytag washing machines. No way, no how was Jack going to bury the car like he did his friend so many years ago. No sir, the Cadillac deserved better!
Jack brought the car back home to Idaho and set about rebuilding the time-machine. Too many good memories were stored in that big car to let it go. Working off and on as his career and family would allow, the restoration was nearing 20 years on the clock but the car wasn’t done. Frustrated and needing some encouragement, Jack hit the Boise Roadster Show to scope out some hot rods, and who should he meet, but Dave Kindig of Kindig-It Designs in Salt Lake City. Dave was at the show shaking hands and kissing babies and enjoying the reaction their latest show-stopper was getting; another drop-top Cad. After drooling over Apolo Ohno’s 1964 Cadillac, packed with big block power and a host of custom tricks, Jack and Mari Anne knew they found the folks to finish the ‘47.
Kindig-It does nothing halfway, so a one-off chassis from Art Morrison was designed to get the Caddy low, make it handle and fit the large-by-huge rear tires Dave had planned. The entire floor was replaced with handmade sheetmetal, making large concessions of course for those burly 20x13 Evod rollers. The rear fenders also got the knife, adding almost two-inches at the bottom to allow the skirts to be retained. What’s a Cadillac without whitewalls and skirts, after all? Dave is an artist at heart, so rarely does an out-of-the-can paint color make it to the gun at his shop. After whipping up a hauntingly dark color named ‘Plum Wicked,’ he convinced PPG to stir it and his merry band of employees to squirt it. After seeing this thing in person, I can tell you that the paint is a mile deep, the body work arrow straight, and the fit and finish is stellar.
That wicked paint is perfect for the car, but Jack and Dave wanted to push the envelope a bit, so a different color was mixed for the engine. This one is called ‘Mean Green’ and it, how do I say this, is in stark contrast to the body. Heck the engine itself defies the exterior appearance. Calling upon a long-time family friend specializing in racing engines, a 604cid monster was built inside a Donovan block. That right there tells you the Ketlinskis are not messing around. Topping the engine is a sheetmetal tunnel ram, crowned with three-two barrels. A stout 4L80E built specially for the car runs through the gears with gusto and affords an overdrive to boot.
Since most of his memories of the Cadillac take place on the inside, Jack and Dave went all-out and sent the car down the street to JS Custom Interiors. Once there, Justin Stephens and his incredible team used linen leather for the seats and door panels, and put beige velour carpet on the floor. Too pretty to put your shoes on, that’s for sure. The dash is stock, but hiding a Vintage Air controller in plain sight as well as one-off instruments from Dakota Digital fit into the stock bezels. The woodgrain look on the dash and upper door panels is hand painted and perfect. Before the car left the upholstery shop, the JS crew stitched together the convertible top and boot.
It’s safe to say that this Cadillac is better than ever; Kindig-It Designs never fails to turn out a show winner that leaves an impression with everyone that sees it. Having an old car to cruise is a special feeling in itself, but when that old car has this much sentimental value, emotions run high. Jack and Mari Anne couldn’t be happier with their Caddy and can’t wait for it to come home to stay after making the rounds at several car shows. Once their big drop top is safely at home, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the pair tearing up the streets, much to the chagrin of Meridian, Idaho’s finest.