When it comes to true North American pride and dedication, our United States neighbors to the north are often overlooked. In 2004, David Gravelle of Montreal, Quebec, Canada was discouraged by the absence of custom Lowrider vehicles and shops that worked on them in his area. After owning a couple of Impalas, he set his sights on a ‘96 Cadillac Fleetwood. The big body was previously used as a taxicab in Canada and was sold at a price that Dave simply couldn’t pass up. Having always had a sweet spot for the ‘93-‘96 Cadillacs, he began this six-year project, which he calls “Starburst.”
What began as a simple street car kept gaining momentum and ended up taking Canadian Lowriding to a whole new level. The Montreal crew of Dave’s friends: Martin, Maggy, Abel, and Diggy, took the frame off the newly bought big body and wrapped and molded it. All the metal work on the body was performed by Gordon Performance, who also applied the DuPont Hot Hues Razzling Red basecoat. The Caddy was re-assembled in Dave’s garage; as the engine was next to receive treatment. The standard LT1 motor was bulky and full of plastic parts that couldn’t be chromed, so Dave purchased a 350 motor straight from a ‘70 Chevelle. He pulled off the look he was going for, as AutoChrome 2005 was enlisted to chrome every inch of this new engine.
Back in Dave’s garage, the complete custom hydraulic system was installed using a two-pump rear setup and a single piston pump to the front for hopping. The entire setup was engraved and plated, including the battery hold-downs and covers. Eggz Custom Fabrication extended the upper arms one inch, and molded them along with the lowers. The trailing arms were made in aluminum while the differential was reinforced and a custom engraved metal gas tank replaced the stock plastic fuel holder.
With Starburst coming along perfectly, Dave decided he needed the Caddy to stand out even more. With the reputation of California-based painters, Dave decided to fly out Coast One from San Jose to Montreal to lay down some intense graphics, using a mixture of House of Kolor pearls. Dave turned to Tattoo Art in Montreal for top-notch pinstripe and leafing. Art used his brush throughout the Fleetwood, framing the masterpiece with oranges and purples. Freddy Alfaro was also brought in to create the unique murals in the trunk and engine compartment. Fitto from Montreal brought the Caddy to a different level by adding murals to the side mirrors and inside the door jams. Cortez Custom Engraving out of Dallas, Texas engraved the rest of the body.
With the taxicab interior badly in need of upgrading, Dave enlisted Chohan Custom Fabrics in Toronto. The fabrication experts there built all the wood-grain material and all the custom interior additions, including a one-off custom metal shaped and molded steering wheel with the car’s Starburst name. A friend, Don Beto, added the custom seats, door skins, dashboard, and headliner.
Dave has been the President of the Montreal chapter of Luxurious Car Club since 2004. He even shows his club loyalty with custom glass tail lights designed using two colors with the word “LUX” in raised glass. “I decided to start the club because there were no serious car clubs in Montreal at that time,” Dave explains, “Luxurious San Jose Chapter provided us with the guidelines and important rules to make a car club successful, and I am eternally grateful for that.” The club founder had faith in Dave along with the work of his friends, and now six years later, they have justifiable pride with the level of craftsmanship that the boys from the North were able to put together. Starburst has somewhat of a cult following, with fans of the Caddy flying to shows purely for the vision of this treasure from Montreal.