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A Gem from the Past: 1968 Cadillac Eldorado

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1968 Cadillac Eldorado

This narrative originates from an Austrian gentleman, who harbored dreams of owning a C3 Corvette just like his father did in his youth. However, a different classic American automobile found its way to him instead. If you too possess a vintage car with a captivating tale to tell, please follow this link to share your story, and you could feature on the ClassicCars.com Journal.

Considering the fact that Austria is known for its narrow streets and high fuel costs ($7.30/gallon), you may think that owning a large, fuel-consuming American automobile in this landscape is madness. You wouldn’t be wrong! Had I anticipated what I was signing up for, I might never have purchased this Cadillac. However, in hindsight, I am glad I did.

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1968 Cadillac Eldorado

My father was the proud owner of numerous interesting vehicles during my childhood, but the one that intrigued me the most was his 1968 Corvette convertible with a 427 big-block. I had the opportunity to drive it just after earning my driving license, which I remember fondly even after 17 years. It spurred my longing to operate an American classic again, and two years ago, I was finally in a position to purchase one.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

My initial choice was a C3 with chrome bumpers (1968-72), but the affordable options were in dubious states with signs of wear and alterations. During countless hours spent scanning auto ads, I was captivated by the first-generation FWD Eldorado’s distinctive taillight design and its robust 7.7-liter V8 engine. It was a vehicle I had to own, despite never having experienced a Cadillac before.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

Limited information is available about my Eldorado’s past, other than it was manufactured in 1968. Between 1979 and 1997, it remained with a single owner in Florida before being purchased by a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America in Virginia, who had it repainted the following year. After two decades of being well cared for, it was sold to a Hungarian car dealer at a Florida auction, marking its journey across the Atlantic. After clearing customs in the Netherlands, it sat unregistered in a dealer’s lot in Hungary for two years.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

Securing an almost-original classic car is straightforward if you have limitless funds, but I didn’t have that luxury. Hence, my search extended over several months until I found two suitable 1968 Eldorados: one black model in Finland, and a red one in Hungary. The black variant was less expensive, but the red one was only a three-hour drive away, prompting my father and me to venture to Budapest, despite the pandemic-related border restrictions and the potential for being halted despite having valid COVID documentation.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

Arriving at a vast parking lot on the fringes of Budapest, we discovered a shack adorned with an American flag, housing two vintage Cadillacs. We were astounded by the excellent condition of the vehicle, with almost no rust in the usually problematic areas. The interior had minimal issues, primarily with the driver’s seat. Perhaps we should have spent more time understanding the car rather than searching for it, as there were a few overlooked issues, such as a non-functioning heater, which turned out to be more complex than we initially believed.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

The drive was a bit rough due to worn-out leaf springs and a faulty air suspension system. Essentially, every rubber part in the suspension needed replacement. Yet, our determination to get this Caddy operational remained steadfast. Perhaps our optimism was a bit misguided, but hasn’t everyone had such moments?

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

Though the dealer was amiable, he didn’t speak English. However, being raised behind the Iron Curtain, he was fluent in Russian, and another Russian-speaking dealer on the lot kindly served as our translator. After settling on a price and ensuring the import duties were paid, we left a deposit (half the value) on the Cadillac, with the remainder due upon delivery.

Since December 2021, I’ve resolved the suspension issues and modified the lights to comply with European regulations, including installing amber blinkers and non-sealed-beam headlights.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

A significant problem arose last summer that wasn’t apparent at the time of purchase. While attempting to correct the timing, I discovered the base gasket was leaking exhaust gases into the intake. Later in the fall, one of the cylinders lost compression.

1968 Cadillac Eldorado

Upon inspection, we found a broken piston, initiating a complete engine overhaul that included honing the cylinder walls, installing new pistons, a new camshaft and bearings, rebuilding the carburetor, and more. The first start-up was tense, and a knocking sound caused concern, but it turned out to be the incorrectly bent dipstick. Overall, the engine rebuild went smoothly for a first attempt. Now, the engine is functioning beautifully and already has an additional 1,500 miles to its name.

–Maximilian Elsinger, Austria

This piece, penned by Maximilian Elsinger, originally featured on ClassicCars.com, an editorial affiliate of AutoMotorMart.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about 1968 Cadillac Eldorado

What is the classic car featured in this story?

The classic car featured in this story is a 1968 Cadillac Eldorado.

Where does the owner of the classic car live?

The owner of the classic car, Maximilian Elsinger, resides in Austria.

What were some of the issues Maximilian faced with the car?

Maximilian faced various issues including a non-functioning heater, a worn-out leaf spring and air suspension system, and a major engine problem where one of the cylinders lost compression due to a broken piston.

What modifications did Maximilian have to make to the car to meet European regulations?

Maximilian had to fix the suspension and change the lights to comply with European regulations, including installing amber blinkers and non-sealed-beam headlights.

How did Maximilian acquire the 1968 Cadillac Eldorado?

Maximilian found the Cadillac Eldorado at a dealer’s lot in Hungary. After settling on a price and ensuring the import duties were paid, he left a deposit with the rest due upon delivery.

How did Maximilian overcome the language barrier with the dealer in Hungary?

The dealer didn’t speak English but was fluent in Russian. Another Russian-speaking dealer on the lot served as a translator, helping Maximilian negotiate the deal.

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AutoFixItRight July 24, 2023 - 12:03 am

Engine rebuild, eh? Thats quite the project for a first timer, Maximilian you’ve got some serious guts man! congrats on getting her running smoothly again

EuropaClassic July 24, 2023 - 2:07 am

A ’68 Eldorado in Austria is definitely a sight. I mean, narrow streets and all, but the presence of such a car, it’s priceless. Kudos Max!

CruisingJoe July 24, 2023 - 3:28 am

max, U sure had a journey with this one! Love seeing these old beasts being restored. Keep those wheels turning, brother!

JayK1967 July 24, 2023 - 6:17 am

Wow, a 68 Eldo in Austria! Thats pretty cool. Bet it’s a head turner over there, even with the high fuel costs haha

VintageRideLover July 24, 2023 - 7:50 am

Kudos to Maximilian for not giving up on his dream of owning an American classic, despite the challenges! I’ve got a ’67 Mustang and I totally get the struggle of maintaining these beauties…


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