When our friends E.J. and Amy Fitzgerald at Middleton, WI-based Cool Hand Customs told us what their 2019 SEMA Show project would be, we raised a collective eyebrow.
Somewhere they found a French-made 1960 Simca Châtelaine two-door station wagon, then decided to mate it with a 2007 Cadillac STS to create an autocrossing terror.
“We are so completely nuts,” Amy Fitzgerald said.
She’s not kidding—much. For starters, let’s compare the dimensions
of each car:
1960 Simca Châtelaine
Wheelbase: 96.1 inches
Overall length: 165 inches
Overall width: 61.8 inches
Height: 56.7 inches
2007 Cadillac STS
Wheelbase: 116.4 inches
Overall length: 196 inches
Overall width: 73 inches
Height: 58 inches
Doing the math, the
STS is 31 inches longer and about 11 inches wider than the Simca, presenting
some big packaging issues. The simplest solution would have been to build a
custom frame, swap over the Caddy’s drivetrain and suspension, and drop the
Simca’s body over the whole shebang.
But Cool Hand didn’t go that route.
Instead, E.J. and Amy stripped the STS’s unibody down to the chassis and floorpan, shortened it 20 inches, then cut the Simca’s body in half and widened it five inches. The metal work needed to do that is huge, but there are practical advantages.
“We wanted to keep the STS’s drivetrain and suspension, so mating the Simca body to the Cadillac’s chassis made the most sense,” E.J. Fitzgerald said. “Everything stays in the factory locations, eliminating the hassle of building a frame and figuring out how to swap things over.”
The STS drivetrain and chassis are about perfect for the project. The 4.6L, double overhead-cam Northstar V8 makes 320 horsepower and 315 lbs.-ft. of torque. It’s connected to a 6L50E six-speed automatic and an all-wheel drive setup with a Borg Warner transfer case. It sends 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels and the balance to the front wheels to help pull the car into and out of the corners. Sounds like an ideal setup for an autocrosser that will weigh well under 3,000 pounds.
As we’re writing this, E.J. and Amy have mated the Simca body to the Caddy chassis and are about finished with the exterior metal fabrication. The next projects are the six-point roll cage, dash and interior metal work, and finish welding, with body work and paint prep coming afterwards.
If you are fortunate enough to attend the 2019 SEMA Show, make time to check out the Simca at the Thermo-Tec display. In the meantime, enjoy these build photos.
Editor, author, PR man—Alan Rebescher has done it all in a 25 year career in the high performance industry. He has written and photographed many feature stories and tech articles for Summit Racing and various magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Hot Rodding, and edited Summit Racing’s Street & Strip magazine in the 1990s. His garage is currently occupied by a 1965 Ford Mustang.