When I was younger I knew that Cadillacs were for old folks. They didn’t come in florescent orange like the Pontiac GTO, purple like a Dodge Challenger, or lime green like a Plymouth Barracuda. They came in black, or beige, or white, occasionally in red, so without a doubt those big land yachts were definitely for old folks.
It was on a trip to the Sterling McCall Cadillac Museum in Warrenton that what I believed to be true as a kid was confirmed . . . Cadillacs are for old folks. I know because today I am an “old folk” and I can honestly appreciate the style and workmanship put into those American made status symbols dating back to the early 1900s.
Built of red brick with large-paned windows facing Highway 237, the museum has the look of a car dealership of more than 70-years ago. From the earliest days of the brand to more recent models, some of the most elegant Cadillacs ever made are showcased on the gray “showroom” floor surrounded by floor-to-ceiling graphic wall murals.
“Feel free to look, but please don’t touch,” said the silver-haired woman behind the period desk as she took a $5.00 donation each for admission. She had been watching “Laverne and Shirley” on a small television as we walked in . . . it was the laid back kind of Saturday afternoon in small town Texas that I really like.
We walked among dozens of restored vehicles such as the 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Only 304 of the limited edition, hand-built, four 4-door beauties were made and one of them found a home in Warrenton.
There was a bright blue custom 4-door sedan from 1925 with its wide white-wall tires. This model had allowed for customers to choose from 24 color harmonies and 10 upholstery patterns. Nearby sat a maroon 1936 4-door Town Sedan with its exaggerated front fenders and chrome grill, and pie pan sized headlights.
The 1941 Cadillac Limo sported the new Hydra-Matic automatic transmission and an “egg crate” grill, with elegance to the point that it begged the question . . . “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”
Hood ornaments and tail fins stretched from wall-to-wall as music from an earlier time hung in the air. It was a nostalgic drive into memories from my childhood and beyond. It was a realization that the Cadillac was the iconic motor car of generations long before the creation of the muscle cars with their flashy colors and wide racing stripes.
Given the choice today between a classic T-Bird and a similar vintage Cadillac, I’d still take the Bird. But, that brief visit to a small community outside of Round Top gave me a whole new appreciation for the brand; America’s luxury car. Thanks Mr. McCall. You did good.
The Sterling McCall Cadillac Museum is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 979-249-5089 or visit sterlingmccallmuseum.org for more information.
Michael Baxter is the Texas Travelin’ Man