Warwick Hales, right, with Louie Berkers, who restored his 1961 Cadillac. Photo / John Stone

At 5.7m long, Warwick Hales’ 1961 Cadillac is not something you’d like to parallel park. Luckily it’s not a about-town vehicle – it’s reserved for car shows and very special occasions.

But it wasn’t always that way – Whangarei Heads resident Mr Hales has spent the past 2 years restoring it with the help of Whangarei company Full Noise Auto Restorations. ‘I’ve always wanted a big American car and I saw this one for sale. I could see what it was going to look like,’ Mr Hales said. He bought the vehicle four years ago and enlisted the help of Louie Berkers of Full Noise Auto Restorations 1 years later.

Louie and his team stripped the entire car back to bare metal, made repairs, repainted it, inserted all new running gear, such as engine, transmission and diff, added wheels, brakes, airbag suspension and all-new interior.

Neither Mr Berkers nor Mr Hales wanted to disclose the total cost of the restoration. ‘I picked the right man for the job, who I knew had the know-how and experience to make what I wanted – and look how it’s turned out,’ Mr Hales said. ‘He’s done a marvellous job. Louie is a perfectionist and you can see it in the car.’

Mr Berkers said looking at the finished product now brings a tear to his eye. ‘I’ve been very honoured to do this for Warwick – I feel really blessed to be the person who has put it all together for him. It’s been a great journey,’ he said.

The car – number plate CADY61 – placed first in peoples’ choice and sponsors’ choice awards at the Whangarei Hot Rod and Customs Show in October last year. More recently, it won the American Street Machine Modified division at last month’s CRC Speedshow in Auckland.
Mr Hales expects to take it out on the odd special occasion.
By Hannah Norton


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