The eye-catching convertible will be the start-turn at this year's Bryn y Maen Exhibition. Wherever he goes in North Wales, Dave Neil turns heads. “The first time I went to my local Asda , I couldn’t get into the shop for the number of people wanting photographs,” he said. It is not Neil, a 71-year-old mechanic and scrapyard operator, who attracts so much attention, but his car, a 1959 pink Cadillac Deville convertible. This is definitely a vehicle you can’t miss when Dave takes it for a spin through the Conwy Valley from his home near Trofarth. Neither is it a “trailer queen” – a car wrapped in cotton wool and only taken out for public appearances on a low-loader. “I go everywhere in it,” said Dave. “I do my shopping in it, I collect the grandkids from school in it. I use it for the odd prom night too. And I always get asked for photos!”
This is not any old Cadillac. It was the star of 1989 film “Pink Cadillac”, starring Clint Eastwood: the car still has the under-chassis camera mountings to prove it. “It’s still got the small tears in the hood which you can see in the film when it goes through a car wash. The same crack in the window is still there too,” said Dave. “I’ve got a new hood, and a new window, but I can’t bear to replace the old parts because I want to keep it as authentic as possible.” So how did a scrapyard dealer come to own a candyfloss pink car with swept-back wings and chrome fenders? “Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted a car with big wings on the back,” he said. “Five years ago the opportunity came up and I grabbed it.” Dave exchanged it with a fellow collector for a V12 E-type Jaguar that his late wife was struggling to get in and out of.
The Cadillac was originally picked as the “back-up” car used by Clint Eastwood in his film, to be used in case of a problem with the first-choice car. As it happened, the first-choice failed to start and the back-up took over for all “moving” scenes. It still appeals to Clint fans. “A few weeks ago I was asked as a favour to take an elderly lady for a meal in Rhos-on-Sea to celebrate her 90th birthday,” said Dave. “Apparently she’s Clint-mad – she’s even got posters of my car in her house. When I arrived to collect her, she came out with her Zimmer frame and her mouth was going from side to side – she was absolutely made-up!” Both of Clint’s film pinks were originally bought by an Irish dentist. One found its way to England, and now Wales; the other was last sold at auction in France for £65,000, and recently changed hands in the US for $200,000. Two years ago Dave was offered £100,000 but he turned it down flat. “There’s no way I’d ever part with it,” he said. “I’ll die before I let it go. Some things are worth more than money.”
Dave Neil’s Cadillac will be the star turn at this month’s Bryn y Maen Exhibition, near Colwyn Bay. It will be sharing the billing with some other old girls, including a 99-year-old Waterloo Boy tractor. The tractor, made by John Deere, will be among more than 50 at the event, along with vintage cars, motorbikes, farm memorabilia and scale models. The show, on Saturday, May 12th, 10am-5pm, is being sponsored by North Wales Honda, Llandudno. It’s on a field off the B5113 (LL28 5ES). This year’s show beneficiary is Ty Croeso Dawn Elizabeth House. Admission is £5 for adults, U15s free.