IN FEBRUARY OF 2011 the shop on his property that housed Gary Howard's paint booth was totally destroyed by a tragic fire. The rebuiliding process is fully underway at this time, but my thoughts & prayers are with Gary, and his wife, as I know the last few months have been really heartbreaking, and painful for them.
They're old friends, wonderful people, and if you see them at a show or event this Summer, please send along a few words of encouragement to them as they've had to endure some extreme hardships - mentally & physically - getting things put back together. JK
AS THE CALENDAR TURNED OVER to the Year 2000, Jimmie Vaughan's Gary Howard-Built '61 Caddy debuted and tore into this New Millenium with a vengeance !
This was no ordinary Coupe DeVille. This was a Hot Rod-themed, fire-breathing, super-charged custom with Skylark Wheels & racing slicks that could blow the doors off of anything in the next lane...and, could transport you down the Interstate in luxury & comfort at the same time.
Originally from the midwest, GARY HOWARD has been based in Georgetown, Texas, for many, many years and his fantastic customs have been gracing the pages of Custom Rodder, Rod & Custom, The Rodder's Journal, and scores of other mags for almost 3 decades.
It was about those 3 decades ago that Gary had a chance meeting with legendary guitarist/car buff, and fellow Texan, JIMMIE VAUGHAN. That led first to Jimmie's '51 Chevy custom, followed by his chopped '63 Riviera, and, later the '54 Ford Victoria Hardtop.
BUT, after the Rivi, this monster '61 Cadillac Coupe DeVille was the blockbuster that knocked the socks off of gearheads the world over, and in my Exclusive Interview with Gary we moved from our talk of the finely-chopped Riv to the unusual chop & theme-build of the Caddy.
Gary is one of the nicest people you'll ever come across. His expertise & craftsmanship are SUPERB, and in the Interview he also has some kind words for the New Generation of Builders coming up. Enjoy !
(Top of page: Jimmie Vaughan & his '61 Cadillac as featured in the Petersen Automotive Museum's "Cars & Guitars Of Rock 'n Roll" Exhibit in 2001. )
(Above left: The Caddy in Gary's garage awaiting the hood and final front end work. Gary did two (2) versions because he wasn't satisfied with the way the first one turned out. Now THAT'S a Perfectionist for you !; Above right: The finished version...worth waiting for !! )
(Above: That's me behind the wheel as Gary & Jimmie, check-out my Manuel Arteche'-built INVICTA at Starbird's National Rod & Custom Museum. We were all there for the 2009 Induction Ceremonies when Gary was Inducted in the "Custom" category.)
SPECIAL NOTE: Jimmie's pal & fellow car builder/friend, LEE PRATT did some initial work on the Caddy and helped with the final assembly. Once the car was put together, it was given to one of the Industries truly gifted upholsterers, CRAIG WILLITS.
Like I always say: "The outside of the car needs to be cool, but you "live" in the interior so that has to be Super Cool & Comfortable !" AND, the way Craig did the interior of this Coupe DeVille makes me want to jump in, close the door, hit the road before Jimmie catches me, and never leave !
BTW: Craig discovered our HOF Legends WebSite and sent me a great eMail about it. Glad to have you with us Craig ! Like I've said before: Your interiors are always spot-on, quality "works of art"...and the work you did on Jimmie's Caddy was PERFECT ! JK
Check-Out Gary' Howard's Cool WebSite At: http://www.garyhowardcustoms.com/
Photos on this Page courtesy of Gary Howard , the Petersen Museum, and their respective owners.