When Cadillac stopped making 2-door, rear wheel drive luxury vehicles, they left those of us in the Lowrider demographic wondering what we were going to do. Then, in 1990, Cadillac redesigned their 4-door Brougham by giving them Euro panels and lights. It is unknown which bold individual was the first Lowrider to pull off a 2-door Euro conversion, but when the Individuals CC from the Valley broke out with their versions of the two-door Brougham, we all knew that they had just given Lowriding an innovation that was here to stay. This opened up the doors for all of the Lowrider designers to try their hand at mimicking the conversion.
Back then, the conversions were being built using parts from donor cars, wrecking yards, and the car dealers themselves. Some of the early builders who attempted the conversions were forced to work with the parts that were available at the time. Just like everything in time, the parts have become scarce, and the new old stock isn't as available as it once was. These long moldings that were used for the doors have become nearly impossible to obtain, bringing new conversions to a halt.
With that said, we stopped by G.E. Auto Antique of Santa Fe Springs, CA to talk with Gonzalo Esparza Jr. G.E has been around for over 25 years, and Gonzalo is constantly bombarded with questions about splicing the moldings together. This concept is nearly impossible, as they are made of a mixture of aluminum and stainless and will not weld correctly because of the mixture. The solution was to cast a new trim that was the right length for the 2-door Cadillac. Now follow along, as Gonzalo makes a custom trim for the Caddy 2-door moldings.
1. If you just wanted to put together your street car with a single piece molding, then Gonzalo has them in stock. If you need to take it to the next level, pay attention to our tech. You can see the difference between the single piece and the two pieces, which are usually spliced together.
2. From all the different angles, you can see that these moldings don't look right if they aren't a single piece. You shouldn't short change your build, as the little things will separate you from the pack.
3. Gonzalo started off by installing the 64-inch one-piece molding. This allowed him to see what modifications were going to be needed.
4. The edge of the trim was used, and it allowed him to cut out the pattern on a metal shear.
5. Gonzalo used a square bench to hold the molding in place. He then used a piece of heavier stock to hold the new trim that was going to be added to the existing trim.
6. The new metal edge was tack welded
7. The excess material needed to be removed.
8. With a steady hand, the edge was removed on the grinding table.
9. An even edge was left on the trim that will melt together when it gets welded by the final weld.
10. Using a fine sanding paper allows a smooth finish on the trim.
11. With the edges done, the molding was placed back on to see how much of the car trim was needed to be trimmed.
12. Gonzalo carefully measured for the adjustments that were going to take place.
13. Using a cut off wheel, he kept the cut perfectly straight.
14. The trim followed the angle of the fiberglass molding and was set up to be tack welded in place.
15. The front of the molding received the same process as the rear section did.
16. Another trick that Gonzalo used was to place newspaper on the metal table; this kept the metal from arching out when the weld was being done.
17. Once the edges were welded, the grinding process was repeated.
18. High RPM sanding was performed to smooth out the stainless molding.
19. A final buff was done at high speeds, and since this trim was stainless, the finish will look as if it was chrome plated.
20. Here is a shot of the trim, before it was capped off.
21. The edges capped gave the molding that completed look.