The inspiration for building furniture from old car parts came while reading a magazine article about a creative couple from California who were building sofas from the backs of old Cadillacs. We decided to try and make one ourselves then began the search for an old Cadillac. Of course, it had to have BIG fins. We found a 1960 Cadillac at Bill’s Junkyard in Cumberland, Rhode Island and bought the entire rear clip for $35.00. The possibility of beginning a business building and selling Cadillac sofas entered our minds. But, two things interrupted that thought… finding a supply of Cadillacs was difficult and the amount of time invested in building the sofa along with the cost of upholstery, paint and chrome would have made these sofas about as expensive as a new kitchen. But, we had fun building ours and enjoy it to this day. Besides, bringing cars inside the house is forbidden, but... recycling car parts into useful furniture - that’s welcomed.
When we needed an end table, we wanted to use the most interesting steering wheel we could think of. First on the list, a 1958 Edsel with pushbutton transmission controls in the center of the steering wheel, what’s cooler than that? The Edsel we found was so rotted there were trees growing through the floors. But, the steering wheel was in pretty good shape and it came out easily, a bonus was that we found an original wheel cover in the trunk. The toughest part of this job was building a ring to support the column and hide it under the wheel cover. The rest was just a matter of cleaning up the chrome, painting and having a piece of tempered glass cut for the top.
Soon after our success with the Edsel table, we decided to build a steering wheel lamp. This presented some new challenges, like... finding a suitably interesting steering wheel and then drilling a hole through the center of the steering shaft for the lamp wire to pass. The first problem was solved when we located a worn 1961 Oldsmobile Starfire languishing in a local junkyard. The second problem was simplified when we realized only a short piece of the original shaft needed to be drilled and a hollow tube could be used for the rest. While building the lamp we considered using the turn signal lever as an on-off switch. That seemed like a pretty good idea and we proceeded to figure out how to do it. But, we were stumped because the original switch was made for 12V DC, not 110V AC. We enlisted the help of an electrician and he was puzzled too, he said – this is Rhode Island, nobody uses those levers! Of course he was right and we proceeded with an ordinary lamp switch.
We’re always looking for creative ways to use old car parts, saving and repurposing what we can from the greatest era in car design.