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June 13, 2013

Social Worker Launches Luxury Car Service With '75 Cadillac Convertible


Caroll Spelke had every intention of selling the old car she inherited when her dad died last year. But then she tried to park it in Manhattan. Cruising around the narrow streets of the financial district, looking in vain for a spot that could accomodate the 19-foot 1975 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, she suddenly noticed folks were staring — in a good way. People shouted out to her; they wanted to know more about the car. Some even said they would pay her for a ride in it.

That was all it took to change her mind about selling the car. Not only did she keep it, she decided to build a business around it: My Daddy's Caddy. Between May and October, Spelke will offer special-event transport and tours around Vermont in the classic car.

"This is probably one in 10 left in the world in this condition," says Spelke. There are only 17,000 miles on the Cadillac.

Spelke, a 29-year-old social worker, never thought she'd end up in the luxury car service industry. She studied cultural anthropology at the University of Vermont, and has worked in drug and alcohol counseling at Fletcher Allen and Rock Point School. Then last fall, after inheriting the car, she enrolled in Mercy Connections' Women's Small Business Program to put together a business plan — and My Daddy's Caddy was born. MyDaddysCaddy2 copy

As part of her research, she got a job at Middlebury Transportation Group, both to learn about the limo business and to find out if she even liked driving people around. Spelke has had shifts since January and says she's been loving it.

"I love driving," she says. "I grew up driving with my father. I love Cadillacs."

In fact, Spelke has been riding in the backseats of classic cars since the day she was born — her parents drove her back from the hospital in a Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

Spelke is excited to launch the business this weekend, no matter how long it lasts. "There will be a day, I know, where [the car] will become a liability instead of an asset," she concedes. Meantime, she'll continue to do social work to make a living.

Spelke says she's been looking at My Daddy's Caddy as "more of a creative process to deal with the grief [over] my father, as a way of being able to share the joy and the fun that I grew up with."

Perhaps it's the reason she's officially launching the business on Sunday, June 16 — Father's Day.

Check out Spelke's ride at the Heaven on Wheels Car Show this Saturday, June 15, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Community Bible Church in South Burlington.

And to book a ride — $150 an hour; $400 for three hours — call 999-1295.

Photo by Dan Cardon.

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