The musings, adventures and reflections of a born again gearhead in the auto mecca of Palm Springs, CA
Friday, May 14, 2010
betty and the parakeet
"Parakeet" in my driveway, April 2003
Last week a friend sent me a link to a New York Times article called Betty White and a Cadillac called Parakeet. It was the story of Betty's beloved Seamist Green 1977 Seville which had been purchased for her as a surprise gift by her late husband Allen Ludden. It was intact and original with just over 18,000 miles and had been donated to the AACA Museum in Hershey, PA by its owner in Texas. Betty herself had donated the car , which she called "Parakeet" to the Humane Society when she decided she could no longer care for it appropriately. And I am the missing link.
Sometimes you have half of a puzzle. When I worked in the wholesale auto industry, one of my clients was Martin Cadillac in West Los Angeles. On occasion I would have to walk through the service department and always kept an eye open for an interesting Cadillac. One day I spotted a pale green and white Seville in a service bay. It was very well polished and clearly loved, showing just 18,000 miles on the odometer and sporting a first generation AT&T car phone and a dash plaque that read "Betty". I made a mental note of what a nice car it was, but thought nothing more of it.
About a year later I went to see a first generation Seville for sale at a Charity lot in North Hollywood. It was white with blue, had some sunfade on the interior and a generous share of dents and dings. Just a bit too rough for me, I said to the attendant. "Well, you should go see the one at our Oxnard location", he replied, "It only has 18,000 miles". I picked up my cell phone and dialed the number he gave me, and asked about the Seville. "It's a beauty", was the reply, "and it was owned by Betty White". She wasn't as red hot then, but I was still a life long fan. I drove directly to the Oxnard location, pausing only to pick up my neighbor in case I needed a second driver.
When I got to their location, I recognized it instantly- the little Seamist gem from Martin Cadillac was Betty White's car! They showed me the original title in her name. It was just as nice as I had remembered, with the cell phone and "Betty" dash plaque still in place. Of course, it needed a little dialing in and I treated Parakeet to some glamorous new correct tires and some NOS chrome, replaced the rear bumper trim and made repairs to the a/c and fuel systems, and then enjoyed showing the little car for a season before I sold Betty to a collector in Texas the same gentleman who donated her to the AACA Museum. What a fine gesture he made, and what a lovely little car that was. I was very pleased to see her featured in the New York Times.
Now I wonder what happened to her yellow Eldorado called Canary...