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Goodguys 2019 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year

Congratulations to Randy Wilcox for winning the Goodguys 2019 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year title with his 1959 Cadillac Coupe deVille! We’ll see you in Scottsdale November 15-17, 2019!


When you start a custom project with the automotive “Standard of the World” – and one of the most iconic designs of the ’50s – how much can you really do to improve on it? Randy Wilcox’s ’59 Cadillac answers that question with a tremendous amount of refinement wrapped up in a package that almost appears stock.

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Randy is no stranger to hot rods and modified vehicles – he’s had a string of great custom rides through the years. When he came up with a ’59 Cadillac Coupe deVille, he turned to a familiar face to build it – Troy Trepanier and his Rad Rides team. The result is what might be considered a modern resto-rod – a car that refines the Cadillac’s classic lines and updates its underpinnings.

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In true Rad Rides fashion, the old Cadillac frame was smoothed out and the front crossmember heavily modified for a GM LSA engine. Shortened springs with adjustable RideTech shocks got the ride height where it needed to be, while Wilwood brakes provided updated stopping power. The crown jewels of the chassis, though, were the 18×7- and 18×8-inch wheels modeled after original hubcaps and custom designed and CNC machined in-house by Lawrence Laughlin. They were wrapped in wide whitewall radials from Diamondback Classics.

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That LSA engine referenced earlier is a supercharged 650hp version and great care was taken to make it look at home. This included a custom firewall and radiator core support, plus custom overflow tanks and coil covers. Custom stainless headers were connected to a stainless exhaust system with Flowmaster mufflers. Rad Rides turned to Bowler Transmissions for the 4L80E overdrive transmission.

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Beyond massaging the Cadillac sheet metal to get it world-standard straight with precise gaps, the Rad Rides team modified all the trim extensively for a better fit with the body and corresponding trim pieces. A coarse-grain stainless vinyl wrap was applied to the roof, akin to the stainless top treatment Cadillac gave to the exclusive and lavish Eldorado Broughams of the late-’50s. The custom-mixed BASF Glasurit paint – expertly applied by Warren Lewis of Rad Rides – adds to the elegant feel.

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Inside, the team continued the theme of custom elements that look original, from the one-off Dakota Digital instruments in a custom surround, to the custom-machined and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The stock power seats were modified and updated with new foam before being upholstered in leather. Custom details abound but are so well-designed and integrated that most appear stock.

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Any project of this magnitude is a team effort and Trepanier is quick to give credit to Rad Rides team members Alex Meriam, Adam Banks, Gary Childers, Brian Ferguson, Casey Modert, and Rick Morcheski for putting in the effort to make Randy’s Cadillac a reality. You could consider it a Standard of the World custom creation, or now the Goodguys 2019 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the Year.

Photos by John Jackson

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.

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