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Car Care | TENDER LOVING CAR / Southern Californians
Keeping Their Vehicles in Great Shape

He Retired but the Rare Caddy Didn't

October 01, 1998

When Gordon Ulrich heads to the beach or runs errands, he does so in distinctive style, at the wheel of a Paris version Cadillac Coupe de Ville. The retired insurance broker, 65, has owned the '78 model--one of only about 100 converted by American Custom Coach Works of Beverly Hills--for 16 years.

How Ulrich obtained the car is a long, somewhat convoluted story involving his then-employer and his need for a company-supplied set of wheels. (Ulrich was a so-called surplus lines insurance broker who specialized in writing policies for hard-to-place businesses, many of them involved in hazardous occupations.)

Suffice to say that he got the car for a fraction--and we mean a small fraction--of the $25,000 his boss paid for it new.

In its heyday as a daily driver, the Caddy transported Ulrich to and from his job in Burbank, about 17 miles from his home in Mar Vista. Today, the black convertible has 140,000 miles, and Ulrich uses it for the aforementioned jaunts, drawing admiring glances (and inquiries about the Cadillac's availability) wherever he goes.

What advice does Ulrich offer to others who want to keep their cars in prime condition?

"I keep it garaged at night," he says, "and covered most of the time when it's out for a few hours, especially when we go to the beach."

Ulrich has had the convertible painted and its leather upholstery redone; he recently sprang for a new top. Aside from such cosmetic renewal, he says, he's had to invest very little in its upkeep, having avoided any major engine work.

As for maintaining that engine, he cites a mantra heard often in Highway 1: Change the oil frequently.

And beyond that?

"I'm not a mechanic-type person," he says. "I take it to a garage in Santa Monica I have a certain amount of trust in."

How important is that trust?

"It's amazing," Ulrich says. "I've taken it to a garage where they said it needed a major overhaul. Later I learned it was an oil filter that was leaking."

So will Ulrich always have (his) Paris?

To anyone inquiring, he'd like to make it clear: Sorry, it's definitely not for sale.

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* YOUR CAR HERE

Tender Loving Car will feature Southern California cars--daily drivers rather than show or collector cars that have been kept in great shape by their owners. We would like you to nominate yourselves and your vehicles for this feature by sending a color photo of the car, along with a brief description (200 words or less), how long you've owned it, what you do to keep it in great shape and how you use it: Daily commuting? Weekend outings? Only on Friday night dates? Write to Highway 1, Business Section, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; via e-mail: highway1@latimes.com.

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