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Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Caddy man

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Jeff stands with his prized 1965 Sedan DeVille. Though the car is of the least monetary value, he prefers it to any other in his collection.

Greencastle resident Jeff Shively has owned a lot of cars in his 30 years. Twelve, to be exact.

He has made these cars his main hobby, interest, and at times, source of frustration.

Of these 12 cars, Shively now owns five. One of them is a Buick. The other four are his passion, Cadillacs. He has worked extensively on every car he owns, replacing parts from bumpers and trunks all the way to engines.

His favorite vehicle of the collection, a 1965 Sedan DeVille, got him hooked on the cars.

He also plays with the Brazil Concert Band.

"I got into Cadillacs by mistake," he said. "I was a sophomore in high school. To be honest, I was looking for an Impala when I found this. I just lucked into it... I fell in love with it almost instantly."

A quick look reveals that this car, which he has put 90 thousand miles on since he first bought it in 1989, has been well-maintained. Besides a few flaws on the interior, the car is nearly pristine. Shively says that besides being his favorite, it is also his most reliable.

"It's never failed to start on me," he said. "Even when it's cold out."

Though the car is his favorite, he says that it is "probably the one worth the least money."

He isn't only connected to Cadillac because of his cars. He has been the director of the Indiana branch of the Cadillac LaSalle Club since 1999, a duty he enjoys. He also writes about the vehicles in "The Self-Starter," the club's magazine, and organizes events for them.

His collection has expanded and shrunk since he started collecting, though he says that this is one of his weaknesses.

"A couple of my buddies and I have owned 46 cars total," he said. "You know how some people take in stray cats? Well, a lot of these cars weren't kept in the best places when we found them. They were in pretty bad shape. You can say we take in stray cars."

Shively's diamond in the rough is a 1941 Series 62 Deluxe Coupe.

The car needs extensive work to get back into pristine shape, though it will be worth approximately $30 thousand when he finishes it up.

"It's on its eighth year of restoration," he laughed. "Sometimes with a car you'll sink a lot more than it's worth into it. That's just what happens with cars. But I've always wanted a '40s car, so I took the opportunity when I had it."

He said that the car cost him $5000, though there's a lot of work to get done before it's road (or even show) ready.

"I won't tell you how much I spent on the body," he said. "But the person who did it did a good job."

When asked how much he has spent on cars in his lifetime, Shively laughed.

"Do you mean how much I still owe? I don't know... I guess around $45 thousand, but that's not too bad over 15 years."

Shively uses his '92 Seville for transport, mostly because it's the least prone to rust.

"I've always liked that car," he said. "I'd wanted one since my freshman year of college. Of course, a freshman in college can't afford that much, so I had to wait."

The last car in his Caddy collection, a 1960 Sedan Deluxe, is somewhere in between his Series Deluxe and DeVille in its completion. Among other work, the car needs a new paint job before he will take it to shows.

"I'm hoping to have it done by this summer," he says. "That model has the second biggest fins put on a car."

A history major, Shively was an undergraduate at DePauw University. He is currently finishing up a master's degree in history at Indiana State University.

He only has time for odd jobs with his hectic student schedule. He does some freelance writing and car detailing work.

One model of Cadillac Shively doesn't like is their SUV line.

"I'm a car purist," he said. "I just don't care for them. Cadillacs should be cars.

"I know the marketing reasons, but still. Hearses and stuff, those are OK, but not Escalades."

He's had some real nightmares with his vehicles. One particularly bad experience for him was a 1965 DeVille Convertible, a car that left him with pains in more than his wallet. While working on the car's bumper, he crushed his hand and broke his left arm. This quickly made him reconsider buying, restoring, and then selling his cars.

"There's just not a market for Cadillacs," he said. "It's really a shame... even convertibles aren't that popular. I don't know why."

Besides setbacks like these, Shively has enjoyed his hobby and doesn't plan to get out of it any time soon.

"I've been to countless meetings around the country," he said. "Sure, you have your jerks, but you also meet honest, decent people who just like Cadillacs.

"And Cadillacs tend to be owned by people with a lot of education," he said with a grin.

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