Girls and their Cars: Meet Christina Kelley and her 1965 Cadillac Calais
Christina Kelley says she has “always been interested in cars from a very young age.” Born in Bronx, New York, but raised in Northern California, the 45-year-old is quite proud of her custom 1965 Cadillac Calais two-door hardtop.
Christina smiles when she says she is “married to my best friend, Brian.” The pair have been together 20 years and have seven kids and three grandchildren. According to Christina, “My husband does all of the work on my Cadi and I adore him for it.”
They found the 1965 Cadillac Calais in late 2013 at an estate sale in Oakland with about 63,000 miles on the odometer; Christina says “We put a new battery in it, and it started right up!” The classic Cadillac has since been repainted with Egyptian Gold paint from the Lexus catalog, and boasts a candy-colored thumbprint-patterned roof and fish scales along the sides. The interior has been completely reupholstered with Cashmere-colored leather and vinyl. The suspension has been modified with an Air Ride system that allows the body to sit on the ground when lowered. Under the hood is the original 340-horsepower, 429-cubic-inch V-8 engine and Turbo-Hydramatic transmission: “We replaced the hoses and performed basic maintenance, but otherwise, the engine is pretty much stock,” Christina explains.
“I’ve entered it in many shows from Sacramento to Anaheim, California. It’s won many 1st and 2nd place awards, but my most prized is “Best 60’s” from CadiFest 5 on May 23, 2015, in Anaheim, California (this day was also my youngest son’s 13th birthday).” The Calais is no garage queen, either; while it’s not exactly a daily driver, the couple drives it to and from shows, and takes it out for special Sunday road trips. “I’d like to drive it more,” Christina laments, “but many people don’t practice very good driving etiquette, and I don’t want it to get dinged up.”
Available as a two- or four-door hardtop as well as a "formal-roof" four-door sedan, the first-generation Calais sports iconic Cadillac design elements with tailfins that were canted slightly downward, and sharp, distinct body lines. The headlight pairs stack vertically, permitting a wide ront fgrille; the rear lamp clusters also stack vertically.
The Calais sold for about $5,000 when it was new, and standard equipment included power brakes and power steering (unfortunately, no power windows); dual back-up lights; windshield washers and dual-speed wipers; full wheel discs; remote controlled outside rear-view mirror; visor vanity mirror; heater and defroster; lamps for luggage, glove, and rear passenger compartments; and cornering lights. Front and rear seat belts were also standard equipment; a nice touch is provided by the telescoping steering wheel.
Christina is currently the Secretary of the Cadillac Kings Car Club, North Bay chapter and has been a member of this car club for four years. The Cadillac Kings Car Club is a worldwide organization with more than 20 chapters across the United States and as far away as Denmark, France, and Toronto, Canada, with a special enthusiasm for Cadillacs from the 1930's through 1970's. The couple also has two other Cadillacs in their show car collection: A restored 1967 convertible and an all-original 1956 model.
Though Christina says she has “always followed the Lowrider movement,” she only finished work on the Calais -- her first custom car -- about a year ago. “I have met so many really cool people in the car scene and have made many special friends along the way. I have been very blessed since I started showing my car last year.”
In addition to their activities with the Cadillac Kings, Christina and her family support many charities, with St. Jude Children’s Hospital among their favorites.
Christina and her family were photographed in January 2016 along the Los Angeles River with the 4th Street Viaduct in the background by Matthew J. Blasko, Line of Sight photography; 559-901-9040.