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Published: 10/27/2022

Rosie Part I: An Idea for the Road

Author: THE BLOCK

Photos: LUCAS PRIAMO

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There are few things in life more exciting than a road trip. Whether you are preparing for the journey, out on the road, or reminiscing about memories made, each element has its special charm.

 

At The BLOCK, we're getting ready to hit the highway with the latest addition to our family – a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville named "Rosie." She has an LT4 E-ROD crate engine* allowing her to cruise the road in all 50 states.

 

"Rosie" is a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville.

 

Rosie is one of 2,100 Eldorado Seville two-door coupe models built by General Motors in 1957, and one of even fewer still painted Copper Metallic. The color is where Rosie gets her name.

So why a classic Cadillac for a road trip?

Well, it has a lot to do with the route itself. The plan is to soon drive Rosie across historic Route 66 – the most quintessential of American highways – to support small businesses and celebrate the love of driving along with our friends at Mobil 1 as they look to make "The Mother Road" a National Historic Trail. It only made sense to choose one of the most classic American vehicles for this cross-country adventure.

Of course, there are all kinds of classic Cadillac models and iconic years to choose from. And if you've recently been in the market for a classic car, you know how much these cars have either risen in value, become even rarer, or both.

So the search was on. It was conducted by our own Andy Williamson here at The BLOCK as he tried to hunt down the perfect Caddy to start our journey.

 

The Caddy was purchased in St. Louis.

 

"There were a few models that jumped out at me right away," Williamson said. "The more I searched daily for a vehicle like this, the more special these cars started to become. There's something really unique about one of these older, big long Caddys. They just have a presence. My goal was to find one that had the right color and look to it, knowing that we had a vision of this build, and a goal behind it."

Our team searched for the car for many months, and we finally found this gem at the St. Louis Car Museum. Williamson worked with the museum's accommodating general manager, Jon Faust, and traveled to St. Louis to check out the Cadillac.

If the car was right, Williamson was going to buy it and attempt to drive it to a shop called Smith Chassis & Metalworks in Louisville, Kentucky, where he and the team there, headed up by Brandon Smith, would start to look over the suspension.

Spoiler alert: Andy drove this car five hours from St. Louis to Louisville.

 

This car is perfect for road trips.

After the turmoil of the last few years, the goal for this project is to inspire others to get out and drive – just as Williamson did across the Midwest. The Mobil 1 team has been doing that all year by taking road trips throughout the U.S. on the aforementioned Route 66. Along the way, they've captured some unique photos for their social accounts and made some incredible memories. 

It got our team thinking as to how we could be part of that and get all of our friends – all of you readers – to join us as the calendar turns to 2023 and Rosie continues on her journey around the country. Experiences shape who we are, and for millions of people, vehicles are integral to every part of a new adventure.

The truth of the matter is, no project car is ever finished. They are always a work in progress. A lot of times, we start projects with the idea to get out and drive, but we often fall short and the vehicles become ornaments. That means they end up sitting in our nice garages as pieces of art, but don't get used as intended.

So for this project, we're going to stick to the plan and build something that we will actually get out on the road, while inspiring others to join us alongside Mobil 1 next year.

The 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville is known for its elegant lines.

With the mandate to make memories and not ornaments, we paused to create a vision for this build. 

We knew we wanted to find a killer old Cadillac to capture the spirit of the road. We got her! Then as Williamson started to spend time with our lovely Rosie as the lead designer of the build, he began to formulate a more focused idea and put it into motion.

The lines and body on the Caddy are epic. They are simply beautiful, and unlike anything on the road then or now. The color of the car is stunning as well – and one not seen very often. So we decided not to touch either of those. The vision started to take shape when we all realized just how unique the car is in its factory trim. There are so many dazzling elements that we had to highlight them and show them off.

Harrisburg, North Carolina's Retro Designs Speed & Custom has been tasked with modernizing the Cadillac while maintaining its classic style.

 

The vision was to maintain the nostalgic vibe of the Cadillac, but modernize the areas that would help us put many many miles on her, and inspire others to do the same with their vehicles. We decided to essentially build a time capsule that still shows some of its age. For instance, we wanted to keep some of the bumps and bruises that come with a car that is 65 years old, while highlighting many of the beautiful aspects of this six-and-a-half-decade-old vehicle as well.

At the start of the build, we knew we were going to modernize the engine and drivetrain. But we also didn't want to disturb a time capsule like this, and we especially couldn't live with ourselves to yank out a numbers-matching engine. So we needed to learn about its history.

Upon further investigation, we found that Rosie had been a two-owner car and had spent much of her life in Oregon. There the original owner performed a mild update years ago and installed a 1959 Cadillac engine and transmission for more power under the hood and on the pavement.

The second owner of the car enjoyed it on some weekends and took it to local car shows, without worrying about much else. As a result, this was the perfect donor car for us to really dive in. The plan is to demonstrate to our friends here at The BLOCK how to take a classic car and build it around a Chevrolet Performance engine and drivetrain.

 

Rosie will be powered by an LT4 E-ROD Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain system.

 

Since all of you are our friends here, we may as well let you in on a little secret, but you have to promise not to tell anyone just yet. We did some research on modern Cadillacs and there are some beautiful models available. We looked at where a nice Cadillac Eldorado Seville might fit in today's Cadillac lineup, and we believe it would have been the two-door companion to the V-Series Blackwing!

That means there is nothing else we'd want to power this beauty than one of the greatest engines ever made – a Chevrolet Performance LT4 E-ROD crate engine* making 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft of torque – matched up to a SuperMatic 10-speed automatic transmission.

Currently, the car is at Retro Designs Speed & Custom in Harrisburg, North Carolina, where Rosie is being built for driving in all 50 states. That team is thrashing on the car to bring out all the specialness in it. Don't worry, we are capturing everything.

Make sure to check back here often, as we plan to do consistent build stories demonstrating how we are bringing Rosie to life with a Connect & Cruise Crate Powertrain System, what parts we used and why, and some of the tips and tricks in building a classic car. 

Stay tuned for this one, it's going to be fun!

Read Part II  Read Part III

 

The latest project at The BLOCK is "Rosie," a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Seville two-door coupe. Designed by Andy Williamson, the Caddy was built by the team at Retro Designs Speed & Custom in Harrisburg, North Carolina, and features a Chevrolet Performance LT4 E-ROD crate engine to inspire driving. Rosie is part of the Mobil 1 "Keep Route 66 Kickin'" campaign, a program in which the world's leading synthetic motor oil brand looks to make "The Mother Road" a national historic trail. Rosie is set to make memories on Route 66 and other highways for the remainder of the year and through 2023 -- while encouraging others to do the same in their own vehicles. 

 

*Chevy Performance E-ROD engines have been granted CARB Executive Orders, which allows for their installation on specific emission controlled vehicles to be driven on public streets and highways. An exemption is granted if the product has been determined not to cause an increase in vehicle emissions from the production vehicles for which the part is intended, nor otherwise cause vehicles to be non-compliant with the vehicle emissions certification and anti-tampering laws. For additional information, including which vehicles these E-ROD engines can be installed in, please visit ChevroletPerformance.com.

 

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