Roger & Gerry Koelln

On 2003 Fall Tour                                          '78 LaCabriolet as purchased in Florida

Roger & Gerry w/their '78 La Cabriolet on the 2004 Fall Tour, Minnesota River By-Ways

Gerry's '81 Eldorado 8-6-4 that works! Click Here to read a story on all Eldorados

that ran in the April 2004 Herald.

Gerry & Roger on tour, they hosted the 2004 Spring Tour (center picture) w/their 1980 Fleetwood Brougham.

1990 Fleetwood Brougham Elagante, Navy Blue, 350 Motor, 700R4 Trans.

 

Roger is “Cadillac Consultants”, or everything you wanted to know about used Cadillac’s but were afraid to ask. While he probably doesn’t know what he’s talking about, at times he says, he knows how to find out what you need to know and how to get you any parts needed, new and used. Really, he has a small parts & salvage yard.

Two of the most highly respected members of the NorthStar Region of the CLS, Roger, and his wife Gerry (for Geraldine), live in the country East of Hudson WI. Besides the parts business he lays claim to several special, personal, Cadillac’s, including:

A 1978 Hess & Eisenhardt LeCabroilet (Cadillac Coupe converted to a Convertible).

A 1978 Fleetwood Brougham 4-door.

A 1979 Coupe DeVille.

A 1980 Fleetwood Brougham 4-door.

A 1981 Eldorado Coupe.

A 1990 Fleetwood Brougham DeElagance.

And Looking for an 80 or 81 Coupe DeVille, any leads? 

Roger confirms this reporter’s claim that behind every car in the club is a story. Here are some of Roger’s stories. In return he looks forward to hearing yours in the near future.

1978 LaCabroilet

The ’78 LeCabroilet came to Roger’s by way of a friend from Hudson WI that had an ’86 Eldorado Coupe with 386,000 miles on it and on its 3rd motor. This friend, Jim, bought a home in Bradenton Florida and wanted to get his $25,000 grandfather clock and some other treasures down there. He was hesitant about pulling a trailer to FL. with the Eldo, so Roger said “lets take my ’79 Cpe Deville which is set up for trailer pulling. His friend bought a covered trailer vs renting one from U-Haul for $1,200 and loaded it to the gills.

Roger and his friend, Jim, take off for Florida. All went fine until dusk in Georgia when the Light Sentinel in the Caddy flips on the headlights. Much to Roger’s surprise, all the headlights were burned out. Following a semi very closely to the next exit they found a Motel. By now they were in Valdosta, GA and Jim’s favorite restaurant, The Waffle House was just across the street. While Jim drained his radiator, Roger asked the waitress to tell his friend that grits go with the meal, regardless of what you order. After a good laugh, Jim decides to get even by attempting to pay the bill with a Million Dollar Bill. The waitress actually asked her supervisor if they could make change.…….

The next nights stop was in Florida where Roger picked up his favorite read, The Auto Trader. After a good nights read and breakfast in the room Jim casually flips through the Trader. He saw a 1998 Cad Convertible. Roger immediately knew it couldn’t be. It turned out it was a ’78 Hess & Eisenhardt Conversion in Nokomis, Fl. They were just a few miles from there so, Roger calls the number in the ad. After impressing the owner with his knowledge of the little known conversion, Roger gets direction’s to see the car.

Once there, a very tall (6’ 8”) 91 yr. old comes out and gives Roger the keys, offering a test ride. Roger’s interest was immediate, but questioned the tall fellow on the price. Being coy, Roger said he liked the car and wanted to buy it, but, would have to think on the price and would call back latter. Once back to the room Roger called Iola, WI. After discussing the car and its condition (a #3) the auctioneer at Iola said the last one he knew of sold at a Barrett Jackson Auction for $3,000 more than was being asked by the tall stranger, but was in about $4,500 better condition by Roger’s estimate. (a #2)

Next morning at Peaches for breakfast, the tall guy, Frank Summers, rolls up in a Rolls Royce Silver Spur and there were Roger and Jim in the slightly used ’78 DeVille trailer towing beater. After negotiating from a position of the poor country bumpkin from WI, Roger offered 50% less than Frank was asking. They parted without blows being struck, agreeing to talk by phone again, later. Next Roger checked with Herb Karow, who had bought and sold and re-bought a ’79 LeCabroilet with just 18,000 miles on it and in excellent condition for his opinion.

 Roger next went through old car magazines and found a similar car with just 6,000 miles on it that was being offered for the same as price they cost new, $29,000. Roger was definitely “way low” in his offer. After calling Frank back, and attempting to stick to his original offer, Frank came down half the difference. Now it’s six month’s after they first met in Florida and they’re still thousands apart. I can’t play poker like this, I’d have already met Frank’s price and owned the car, but Roger’s a professional buyer and skilled negotiator with nerve and nerves of steel. Back to “I’ll think about it”. In another 3 months Frank gave in, but, Roger didn’t get there to pick it up for another 3 months.

1978 Fleetwood Brougham

Roger’s next story begins in front of the TV at home when Herb Karow calls. “I know you like those rear wheel drive Cadillac’s”. Well, “I know of this car that’s been in the same family” all its 108,000 miles.  Rusty in the doors, they had rejected a $300 offer from another opportunist who wanted it as a parts car

 “It’s a collector car you know” the elderly owners started out with. “We had a friend/relative look it up and it’s worth $ABC –to_ $XYZ. Besides, it has a new transmission.

Roger questioned the rust and the old man said he had fixed that. He had, with an aerosol can of silver paint. Again, Roger’s approach was to offer ˝ the asking price and suffer rejection, then go away and “Think about it”. Again, Roger checks it out through his sources plus it did have a perfect front end and new rear bumper, fresh tune up etc. Awe what the heck, what’s another $100. What a guy.

OK we’ll take it said the old folks, but again, Roger didn’t want to drive it for months. This caused some concerns to the sellers, but eventually 12 sets of keys were turned over to Roger who could hardly lift the big key ring. Roger drove the car as a “winter beater” and began to like it more and more the more he drove it. Fixing the rusty doors really isn’t in the cards but he uses it in the salt and when a friend/neighbor/relative needs to borrow a car. He always offer the car with an empty gas tank and requires it comes back full of fuel and clean.

1979 Coupe DeVille.

Another beater? Read on and see. Roger needed a tow vehicle for picking up and delivering trailers. Roger’s friend, Jim from above, mother’s car became available. This one had been sitting for years out doors, next to the house, under a bathroom window. The window leaked moister onto the windshield molding causing a nasty rust problem. Besides that, the idiot son-in-law had tried to start the car and the battery was dead. He put a charger on it and forgot about it, for three years. Luckily it hadn’t burned to the ground taking the house with it.

Roger & Jim pumped up the tires, installed a new battery, checks the fluids and the car started and drove. It was a low mile (28,000) 429 powered two door preacher’s car. Roger’s a sucker for Coupe DeVilles.

Roger drove the car for awhile before the price was even discussed? They were friends after all, and price was awkward to discuss, especially with Roger’s propensity to offer half the asking price and drag out the process for months. This time he didn’t haggle, Jim asked $100 per thousand miles on it, less the good buddy discount, resulting in $2,500 asking price. What a formulae. It’s been a workhorse, not a beater, equipped with a big hitch, alternator and battery for trailer towing and is now being readied for re-paint.

1980 Fleetwood Brougham 4-door.

What next?  A kid Roger grew up with, who’s obviously no longer a “kid”, was living in Florida and driving Ford LTD’s. When he visited MN he drove Roger’s Cadillac and decided he wanted one. Roger started looking for a car for his old friend. Soon Roger left his card in the window of a black late model Cadillac with red interior he spotted on the street. A couple of days later he got a call back from a funeral director. Well, the car was leased and used in the Mortuary business – BUT – how about an older one. How about a 1980 just like the newer one you saw? It’s 11 years old, but has just 52,000 miles on it with new tires and has been detailed annually by Perfect 10. After all, a mortuary’s car needs to look its best.

So, here we go on the pricing game again. The owner had an offer $800 more than Roger offered, but guess what, the other guy couldn’t come up with the money and wanted to buy it on time. Two weeks later, Roger wins again, after lowering his original offer by $300. A counter offer in-between prevailed. It turned out to be Roger’s birthday too, what a deal. Oh bye-the-way, the kid form Florida ended up with a Mercury Marques.

1981 Eldorado Coupe.

Gerry’s car, as Roger call’s it, came from an ad in the St. Paul paper put there by an Anderson Cadillac salesman. He said it was bought for his wife and she didn’t like it. A Texas car with just 61,000 miles on it, it had been traded in on a new car at Anderson’s. A typical car salesman, he embellished the story a little bit. Well, Roger was right in his element going into the pricing negotiation with a professional sales person. This time the deal was made before Roger left the driveway though. So much for the professional salesman having the upper hand.

The salesman thought he had the last laugh though. He executed the bait-and-switch by changing the new battery and perfect wheel covers to a used battery and beat up wheel covers before Roger went to pick up the car the next day. Roger, you should have never trusted a used car salesman. There were a few choice words exchanged and Roger took the Eldo home anyway.

Later, Roger visited the Sales Manager at Anderson Cadillac which may have contributed to the guy being fired. He had apparently been buying cars off the lot , or from the original owner at his discount, and reselling them himself for a profit, thus cutting the dealership out of there profit.  Now who had the last laugh?

1990 Fleetwood Brougham DeElegance.

How did this one happen? Roger and Gerry drove to Newark, DE to their grand daughter’s first communion. They drove their ’80 Fleetwood to the church and there sat a ’90 Fleetwood DeEligance with a 5.7 in it. Out comes Roger’s card again and it was left on the car. Doesn’t he ever learn? But, Roger had been looking for such a car for years.

The owner called later that day and said, “You the guy that wants to buy the Cadillac?” Yeh “Well come and get it”. In the middle of the family festivities Roger begged of seeing the car until the next morning. Roger and his son-in-law show up at the guys business, who it turns out, the son-in-law used to work for.

 Next come out the GOLD keys for a test drive. First thing Roger noticed, besides the fact that the car looked brand new, was that it had only 28,865 miles on it. Of course, Roger wanted the car and told the guy he would buy it, but, they hadn’t discussed a price. Well, here comes the same old story, the guy wanted much more than Roger offered, regardless of what he was really willing to pay, not to mention what he thought it was really worth. All that was beside the point, the point was the least amount Roger could get the guy to accept. It’s not the price paid but the satisfaction of the negotiation. Kind of the thrill of the hunt. This time it came down to Roger buying the Cadillac for what the guy had to pay for a van he needed for use in his carpet business.

Next, you guessed it, Roger couldn’t take delivery on the car for months and months. Finally, the guy called and said, “I have to get this car out of my garage”, so Roger and his handyman/car dismantler jumped it the ’79 Coupe DeVille, the workhorse, and made a bonsai round trip out east to pick up the ‘90. Roger didn’t even drive it home, Chris, the kid that dismantles cars for Roger, did. This is just one example of Roger’s generosity. Just because Chris liked the car, Roger let him drive it home. Across country, the most expensive car he and Gerry had ever bought was driven home by Chris with Roger following in the old workhorse.

And Looking for an 80 or 81 Coupe DeVille, any leads?

This would complete another dream, like finding the ’90 Fleetwood DeEligance. Roger wants to build a pick up out of  an ’80 or ’81 Coupe DeVille, kinda a Street Rod of sorts. He’s got a 472 for it, will install an extra fuel tank for long hauls, a 10 or 12 bolt rear end for towing durability, dual exhausts and a 700R4 or Turbo 400 transmission with a big cooler.

In conclusion: Roger is not only generous to a fault, but truly an entrepreneur, knowledgeable boat and trailer builder from years on the St Croix, a Cadillac Consultant (that’s an inside joke), an experienced driver/traveler and a very old person.  

Roy Boone, Herald Columnist & Club Webmaster

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