Two for the Road
By Meda Kessler
Photos by Ralph Lauer
A pair of vintage Cadillacs make a bright and bold statement
Jackie and Dolly make quite a pair. Dolly’s a few years younger and has more miles on her, but both ladies look good for their age.
For the Oltmann family, the pair of Cadillacs has helped them connect with each other and fellow car lovers.
Jonathan Oltmann has been a car enthusiast ever since, as a kid, he first helped his father with an oil change. When Jonathan and wife Sarah began building their Grapevine home in 2017, a spacious workshop was one of the first projects completed. His longtime project car is a Ford Falcon that he acquired when his son was 3 — he’s now 14. He found Jackie in Lubbock about 2½ years ago. The 1966 Coupe DeVille had 18,000 original miles, plus its original 429-cubic-inch V-8 engine and 3-speed transmission.
“I’ve always liked big-boat cars,” says Jonathan, “plus I knew this was a car that Kyle and I could work on together.”
Jonathan wasn’t thrilled about the Plum Crazy color (and, yes, he’s constantly asked if he went to TCU), but now he can’t see the car being any other shade. Jackie will get a high quality paint job one day, but she’ll stay purple.
Other issues were more pressing than a fresh paint job, although he spent about two months cleaning the exterior, including removing the overspray from the chrome.
He switched out the air suspension with better components, replaced wiring and installed new disc brakes, all with his son’s help. Jackie got smaller wheels, custom made of billet aluminum, and new whitewall tires for a classic look from Diamond Back Classic Radials, which makes modern tires designed to resemble vintage ones.
Dolly, a red 1970 convertible DeVille, was found via a Cadillac Facebook group in North Carolina. “The owner continued to drop the price so much that he was practically giving it away,” says Jonathan.
Sarah, who named the cars for the former first lady and the country music star, welcomed the new addition. “Jonathan could work on it, but I planned to drive it.”
Dolly was originally black but had been repainted. It had the original 472-cubic-inch V-8 engine and 3-speed transmission along with 84,000 original miles and was trailered to Texas.
“The car was filthy from the road trip, and it took me about a week to get her cleaned up. Sarah finally sat in it and said, ‘This will work.’”
Sarah picked out new wheels and tires; all the headlights are now LED. After Jonathan dealt with suspension and wiring issues, Sarah finally got to drive Dolly at the first of the year. Both cars made their first show together in late January at Southlake’s Cars and Coffee event in Trophy Club.
The Oltmanns are keenly aware of all that comes with driving a vintage car, including more time spent at gas stations and grocery store parking lots answering questions. Plus, the Oltmanns say kids love the bright paint, especially little girls. “It’s key to not be in a rush and to always have your phone charged so you can call for a ride,” says Sarah.