Mission family restores late father’s unfinished ‘dream’ car: 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan

Lorne Ridley showing off the engine of the now fully restored project after three years of work. Patrick Penner / Mission RecordLorne Ridley showing off the engine of the now fully restored project after three years of work. Patrick Penner / Mission Record
From left to right: Kelly Ridley, Joyce Nadeau and Lorne Ridley standing next to the 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan, dressed in 1950s-style attire. Patrick Penner / Mission RecordFrom left to right: Kelly Ridley, Joyce Nadeau and Lorne Ridley standing next to the 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan, dressed in 1950s-style attire. Patrick Penner / Mission Record
Joyce Nadeau behind the wheel of the classic sedan. She took it upon herself to see her late husband’s unfinished project through to the end. Patrick Penner / Mission RecordJoyce Nadeau behind the wheel of the classic sedan. She took it upon herself to see her late husband’s unfinished project through to the end. Patrick Penner / Mission Record

Each one of the thousands of vehicles at Mission’s Old Car Sunday show has a story, but perhaps none as sentimental as Joyce Nadeau’s 1953 Cadillac Fleetwood Sedan.

Joyce’s husband, Raymond Nadeau, passed away three years ago before he could finish restoring the classic Godfather-esque car.

“I decided to put it together whatever the cost,” Joyce said, recruiting her daughter and son in-law, Kelly and Lorne Ridley to see it through.

All three proudly stood beside the now-finished project in Fraser River Heritage Park on June 19, dressed in 1950s-style attire.

Raymond had been a collector of Cadillacs in life. A warehouse full of parts, and another model in his collection were sold after he passed, but the 1953 sedan will stay in the family for good, Lorne said.

He said it’s taken three years, and “a lot of sweat and tears,” to fully restore it.

“It’s a beautiful car,” Lorne said. “This was her dream – to have this car finished.”

The project started with “everything in pieces,” he said, aside from the upholstery and fresh black coat of paint.

He said the wiring was one of the more challenging parts; the dashboard was completely disassembled and nothing was labeled. Luckily, he had help from a friend who owns a performance shop in Merritt.

Finding the old parts was another challenge. Some are still produced, but many parts aren’t, and one has to scour online or head down south to the U.S. hoping somebody has them, Lorne said.

“Everything has to come through the U.S. and you don’t find many of these cars,” he said. “It took a lot of work … It took a long time, but it’s in great shape now.”

The sedan has been fully restored in Raymond’s memory, but Lorne said they intend to get more memories out of it – and it will be coming out more than once or twice a year.

He said the motor and transmission are in good shape, and it can drive anywhere.

“A lot of people build them for show, which is fine, but I wanted this one so we could drive it,” Lorne said.

“So I can take my mother-in-law out. If we want to go to White Rock for fish and chips, let’s take the Cadillac.”


@portmoodypigeon
patrick.penner@missioncityrecord.com

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