“Full tilt” is the best way to describe my mental state back in December when I bought my 1976 Cadillac Eldorado. “Tilt,” as a poker term, is used for someone who gets frustrated and begins playing in an aggressive and illogical way — and usually ends up losing all their chips. In my case, at least I brought home a nice car, but I ended up massively overpaying on something I didn’t even really want.
When I went to the auction where I bought my Eldorado, my primary goal was to sell cars. I still had three remaining purchases from my reality show project that I wasn’t keeping, and since the production company wanted to close its books on the project by the end of the calendar year, the timing of this collector car auction was perfect. Unfortunately, they automatically give all sellers the ability to bid on other cars as well, which opened the door wide open to my compulsive buying tendencies.
While the DeLorean was a total surprise purchase, with the decision to bid made on the auction block (and which turned out to be a disaster mechanically), I was actually thinking about bringing home a land yacht. I missed owning a giant malaise era barge like my 1978 Lincoln Continental Coupe — and I thought having a giant convertible from that time period would be fun. At the auction, there was a perfect candidate, a 1975 Eldorado convertible, which had an average repaint and replacement seat covers, but was overall in nice condition. I figured it would sell for somewhere around $12,000, but I was shocked when it brought almost $20,000.
Rather than thinking this was a freak result from two bidders getting caught up in the auction atmosphere, I decided the market had changed — and these previously undesirable land yachts were dramatically going up in value. Unfortunately, there weren’t any other 1970s convertibles selling to test my theory — and since I was committing to a New Year’s resolution to not buy a car in 2019, I decided I needed to buy something NOW. Even though I didn’t want a coupe, I ended up buying this 1976 Eldorado, mainly because it was in really nice, totally original condition. Still, at $9,350 with auction fees, it seemed a little expensive.
Other than the urgent time table, the other reason I wanted to buy at this auction was because I refused to buy another land yacht without inspecting it in person. My last two sight unseen vintage car purchases were described as completely rust free by the sellers — but arrived with serious amounts of rust. My 1983 Chrysler LeBaron was so bad that I ended up digging a hole for it and burying it. My 1978 Lincoln caught fire shortly after I took delivery of it, and began bubbling around the landau top within a few weeks, thanks to the shoddy workmanship of the selling dealer.
So seeing this Eldorado in the flesh was a huge plus for me, but it still needed work. The brittle bumper covers were crumbling, the brakes were noisy and the climate control system didn’t work. It also has ancient tires, but I haven’t changed those yet — since I’ve already spent about $3,000 fixing everything else. To makes matters worse, I was wrong about the prices going up on these land yachts, and now have $12,000 invested into a car that’s worth only $8,000 — and even worse, it’s not something that I’m going to keep for much longer.
Don’t get me wrong, I really like the car. It’s the last year of the massive 500-cu in. V8, which was the largest engine offered in a passenger car at the time — and I love the way it looks and drives. The problem is that I’ve been here and done this with so many land yachts in the past, and all I want to do now is saw off the roof. I’ve never owned a large convertible and still really wanted one. I should have been more patient.
So when Jay Leno mercifully gave me permission to break my silly New Year’s resolution last month, I bought the car of my dreams within 24 hours. That means goodbye Cadillac, since I can only handle so many aircraft carrier-sized vehicles in the garage. Hopefully I can find a new home for it soon, so I can pay for the repairs on the latest land yacht, which is currently doing an excellent impression of the Exxon Valdez. Find a Cadillac Eldorado for sale