Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 6:35 pm | Partly Cloudy 65º


Local News

Auto Fanatics Use Orcutt Car Show to Help Raise Funds to Fix Crumpled Classic Cadillac

John Shuffield's red 1959 convertible is sporting signifcant front-end damage from March 9 crash in Orcutt


A candy apple-red Cadillac convertible stood out among the dozens of shiny, perfectly restored classic cars on display Saturday in Orcutt, but not because of its pristine condition.

Instead, the 1959 Cadillac’s crumpled front end prompted even noncar buffs to wince.

The car show appearance came nine days after the Cadillac slammed into a concrete pole on Clark Avenue at Highway 135 and before its owner and driver, John Shuffield, has even left the hospital.

“It’s an iconic piece for the local community here,” said Shuffield’s grandson, Chad. “It’s a piece of the family that’s for sure.”

In fact, the hospitalized 87-year-old owner fretted about needing to get the car restored quickly so it wouldn’t miss Saturday’s event.

The 6th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Car Show at St. Louis de Montfort Church raises money to provide scholarships for students at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School and St. Joseph High School, in addition to other youth programs.

The Knights of Columbus 11137 — a fraternal organization James Jepsen likened to the Catholics’ Elks — organized the event.

While not huge, the scholarships help ease families’ financial burden, Jepsen said, noting the program would have assisted his parents when he was in high school.

Approximately 125 classic vehicles sat on display while booths offered food, beverages and information.

But Saturday’s gathering had a secondary purpose as the Shuffield family set up a booth seeking donations to help pay for the car’s restoration.

Shuffield and his Cadillac have attended five of the six shows.

“Everybody knows John in the car show community ...,” Jepsen said. “So many people want to help.”

Upon learning of the crash and seeing photos of the vintage car, he said he knew immediately who owned the vehicle.

His first thought centered on Shuffield’s condition, knowing the car didn’t have modern-day seatbelt or airbags, and before learning the octogenarian driver had to airlifted to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Shuffield remained at Cottage Hospital on Saturday, but his family hopes he will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility within days.

“The next question in my mind was, ‘Wow. How bad is the Caddy?’” Jepsen said. “We saw the pictures, but when you see these things they’re built like tanks compared to today’s cars.”

Since the car can’t be driven, Santa Maria Towing provided free transportation to get the Cadillac to the church for the car show.

Chad Shuffield said his grandfather has owned the car, previously owned by Alex Madonna, since approximately 1987.

Cost may not be the only impediment to restoring the classic vehicle.

“A car this old, parts don’t come cheap” Jepsen said. “They’re hard to find.”

The Shuffields don’t know yet how much it will cost to restore the Cadillac, but they say it will be paid by the insurance company of the driver who caused the crash.

Organizers of Saturday’s event also allowed the Shuffields to set up a booth to collect donations.

“I haven’t even got into the numbers of it yet, but it’s pricey,” Chad Shuffield added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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