Winnipeg Free Press

Couch DeVille

by Larry D'Argis . Mar 24 2016
This 1959 Cadillac love seat and vintage gas pump are being raffled off in support of the Children’s Rehabillitation Foundation.

This 1959 Cadillac love seat and vintage gas pump are being raffled off in support of the Children’s Rehabillitation Foundation.

Automobilia plays an important role in what is collectable today. Anything related to the motoring experience can be used to further a display or create one unto itself. We all have favourite items we like to hold near and dear, such as old signs, photos and items that harken back to the days of our youth. Today, the trend to have the rec room, garage or man cave featuring these items as a focal point speaks volumes about what you appreciate in life. Where to find such treasures is often by chance, and the Manitoba Street Rod Association (MSRA) is offering just that.

For the past two years the MSRA has successfully held raffle draws for a fully restored vintage gas pump. In each of those years the club has raised several thousand dollars for its club charity, the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation (CRF). The CRF uses these much needed funds to provide special equipment and recreational items for children with special needs. For MSRA member Tim Salisbury, these previous raffles have struck a chord. “As a parent I know what it’s like to try to come up with a few hundred dollars to provide my child with a new bike,” said Salisbury, “but for a parent of a special needs child, coming up with the $3,000 to $7,000 needed can be a great hardship.”

This year the MSRA has stepped it up a bit by including an automotive loveseat along with a vintage gas pump. By using the rear section of a vintage vehicle, the trunk area can be converted into a really neat couch. What seems like a simple conversion is actually quite complex. You are basically restoring one-third of a full size automobile and modifying it with decorative lighting and a comfortable upholstered seat. Each step requires custom-fabrication skills. This year’s project includes a loveseat built from a 1959 Cadillac. Don Blowatt found the tail section of the ’59 Caddy at an antique shop on Highway 10 just north of Brandon. The MSRA bought it along with a 1959 Gasboy fuel pump. The pump was in service with the Manitoba Government Air Service at the Lac du Bonnet seaplane base until 1989. Salvaged by Ernie McNichol, he donated the pump in 2015 to the MSRA to be used as a CRF fundraiser. Salisbury and his two sons Derek and Donny, along with several friends, built this 1959 Cadillac love seat in the winter and spring of 2016. Chris Jelfs looked after all the administration duties and is the liaison with CRF for the project.

Tim Salisbury spent considerable time repairing rusted sections of the lower quarter panels before his son, Don, applied a coat of 2014 Ford Mustang medium blue urethane enamel, and his other son, Derek, wired the lights. Omer Gautron upholstered the seat in a crisp white vinyl. Western sign did all the sign work and decals for the project and Rondex Limited supplied the paint and bodywork materials for both the love seat and gas pump.

The pump was cosmetically restored by Salisbury using a Supertest theme and the front face has been modified to give it a more retail appeal. Derek Salisbury wired the lights and friend Harold Gross set the ad glass. Bodywork, paint and lighting aside, the use of a Cadillac in the project presents some interesting challenges. Restoration parts for the Cadillac are scarce and the search for useable or refurbished parts can be hit or miss and often costly. The huge rear bumper and sheer amount of polished stainless steel and chrome trim can add thousands in costs. The bumper ends on the massive rear bumper were in poor condition. A series of small dents and years of corrosion rendered them almost unserviceable. A check on EBay showed useable ends regularly traded for as much as US$1,750. Faced with the current exchange rate, it made the purchase a no-go and put the project in jeopardy.

Salisbury began to fabricate patch pieces that looked as though they may save the bumper ends, but they required an expert welder to install them. For that task, Terry Slight was called upon to TIG weld the panels in place. Next came the arduous task of polishing the stainless steel trim and chrome plating the bumper. Nelson Benevides at The Chrome Pit has long been a go-to guy in the car community and supplies beautifully restored and replated bright-work for vehicle restorations. He came through with flying colours on the Cadillac love seat project. Everything now looks and fits perfect.

The MSRA, in conjunction with the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation of Manitoba, will hold a fundraising raffle during the summer 2016 cruise season. The Cadillac love seat and the 1959 Supertest Gasboy pump will be given away Sept. 25 at the MSRA Toy Run. All profits from the raffle will be donated to the CRF. Ten thousand tickets have been printed and sell for $2 each or 3 for $5. No worries if you missed the items on display at Piston Ring’s 42nd Annual World of Wheels car show last weekend — you can buy tickets at the MSRA’s upcoming 17th Annual Rodarama car show being held at the East End Arena, April 29 through May 1. For further information or ticket purchases see