With the Indy 500 coming up at the end of the month, all thoughts naturally turn to the cars that pace the famous race. Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Cadillac Eldorado held that honor for the 1973 running of the event, and is probably the classiest car ever to do so. Let’s see what such class costs today.
Nature often gives us fair warning of imminent peril. There’s the rattlesnake’s rattle before a bite and the gorilla’s chest-thumping posturing before... well, I think they just throw poop on you.
In the automotive world, such warning often comes by way of finding a once-expensive vehicle now for sale at a suspiciously low asking price. Discovering one such car, truck, or gyrocopter in such dire straits might indicate a scam. Finding that the entire model run is so afflicted tells another story.
Sometimes, however, that story gets muddied by the siren song of desire and beauty, which is possibly why yesterday’s 2012 Maserati GranTurismo Convertible found such favor at its $38,000 asking price. That was about a quarter of its original, 10-year ago cost and reflected an issue that Maserati, in general, suffers, which is massive depreciation. Many of you were overcome by the car’s beauty, and a few even advocated “what the hell? Cheap Maser!” In the end, that all added up to an amazing 72 percent Nice Price win.
There are few spectacles as grand as the Memorial Day weekend tradition of the Indianapolis 500. If anyone is asked to picture an Indy pace car — any Indy pace car — the first image that pops to mind will probably be a Corvette, since that model has set the pace for more than 17 races and is doing so again this year.
Of course, if you’re an oldster, you might instead picture a Stoddard-Dayton Model 11-A. That was the model chosen by Speedway founder Carl G. Fisher for the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race in 1911. It would prove the only time a Stoddard-Dayton was called upon for such service and gained the honor that year because Fisher owned a distributorship for the marque.
Since then, General Motors has fielded the most pace cars — Corvettes, Camaros, Trans Ams, Fieros, and others — for a total of 32 Brickyard showdowns. With the C8 Corvette called into action to pace this year’s race, GM will be able to notch number 33 on the corporate bedpost.
One of the oddest nominations GM ever made for pace car duty was the Cadillac Eldorado, an enormous FWD convertible that was barely at home on the street much less on the track. Regardless, the Eldo was picked to pace the event in 1973, a fated year that would see the event beset by both accidents and weather that delayed the race by days and saw the tragic deaths of both racer Swede Savage and pit crew member Armando Teran.
Tragic as that race was, Cadillac still celebrated the event with 566 parade and promo cars bedecked in white over red leather with OFFICIAL PACE CAR graphics adorning either side. Under the massive hood lay an equally massive 500 cubic inch displacement V8 mated to a Turbo-Hydra-Matic 425 three-speed automatic via a chain drive. That package — with transmission nestled next to and below the big mill — sent power to the front wheels through equal-length half shafts.
Cadillac was able to massage the official pace car’s engine to make close to 500 horsepower by denuding it of emissions controls and the A/C system. In this authenticated 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Pace Car replica (meaning a replica of the official pace car, not a ripoff) that power is a bit more modest 235 (net) ponies. More importantly for a car of such ample proportions, the engine’s torque output is a sizable 535 lb-ft.
This car is claimed to have had the same owner for 33 years and has amassed 83,000 miles over the course of its existence. According to the ad, it is a “Beautiful car” and it “runs as good as it looks.” Nothing on the exterior or in the cabin appears to show any real sign of age or wear, nor does the engine bay. The car comes with a clean title, a commemorative plaque on the dash, and the authenticity manual that assures the car is what it is purported to be.
For all that, the asking price is $37,000. That price is a far cry from the car’s original MSRP of $7,721, but, you know, inflation, and all that.
What’s your take on this oddball Caddy Pace Car and that $37,000 asking? Does that feel like a deal that will reach the checkered flag and the checkbook? Or, is that price totally off the pace?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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