Paul Koch spent six years as road manager for the San Diego Chicken. Now that he’s in real estate, you might see his Cadillac around town.
“I drive a big car with a big name,” he says. “A 1959 Cadillac Series 60 Special Fleetwood. I think they made just over 12,000 of them. It was one of the lowest production numbers of all the 1959 Cadillacs. And I hear stories of guys driving them off the cliffs in Mexico. Surfers from La Jolla saying, ‘Oh man, me and a bunch of buddies one time....’
“Mine was originally purchased by a gentleman from Washington state. He had it for 26 or 27 years. Then a gentleman from Chicago flew out to Washington, bought it, and drove it all the way home. When he turned the car over to me, he had pictures of the tour. He was so proud of the car, though he had, like, 20 collectors cars and this huge garage at home, and he was renting out garages all over Chicago. He had four ’59 Cadillacs. The Fleetwood, a Coupe deVille, the Sedan deVille.
“Mine has dual exhaust. I love the dual exhaust. My first car, a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500, had the dual exhaust. Ever since then — I’m not the kind of guy that likes loud cars, but for some reason that dual exhaust has a comfortable old cool car sound and feel to it. In the muffler world, it’s like dueling banjos. They play off each other, you know. When you’re driving down the road, there’s a little beat going doot doot, doot doot.
“I would’ve loved to drive it home on Route 66; it would’ve been the ride of a lifetime. But it needed work. After getting it back here, I’d sell a house and take a small portion of my paycheck and put it toward fixing something on the car. I had the engine rebuilt about a year and a half ago. Brakes completely redone. The wiring. A lot of bearings and steering components. I’ve pretty much worked from the inside out.”
I ask, “Do you do the work?”
“I have to tell you, I know where to put the gas in, check the oil, make sure the radiator has coolant. That’s about it. My pleasure is driving the car. And it draws attention to my business. People notice. It sticks out, with those audacious fins.
“Some Cadillac purists don’t even acknowledge this model because of the fins. In a book that tells about 75 or 80 years of Cadillacs, the author refused to put a picture of the ’59 Cadillac in the book, because he was so taken aback by the fins.
“The summer before I bought it, I was in Graceland, in Memphis. I was inspired by Elvis, a farm boy who becomes the king of rock and roll, and he’s known as a Cadillac owner. But he never owned a ’59, though he probably had every other year. He bought them for his mother, for his dad, for whoever. Or he’d just buy them and a month or two down the road get another one.”
Paul is such a congenial, light-hearted guy, I wonder if owning one Cadillac is wiser than owning many of them.