Remembering Jack Lord

Jack's Sedan DeVille

Jack and Marie standing beside their 1969 (or 1970) Cadillac Sedan DeVille (TV Week, 1995)


Ever since he sold Cadillacs in Manhattan, while he studied acting and began his acting career, Jack drove the luxury model, eight in all, he once said. He drove the last one, a white Cadillac Sedan DeVille, for nearly 30 years, from the time he purchased it new until his death. He bought the car in Honolulu, when he made the move to star in Hawaii Five-0. There, it remained until two years after his death (Sigall, Bob. "New Owner of Lord's Caddy Turns Up a Hidden Treasure" in Honolulu Star-Advertiser. May 3, 2013).

 

Maintaining a car in salt and sand, the harsh sunlight, the strong storms, and the ever-present trade winds is no easy matter. Jack learned as much while he tried to make it last. You may ask why he would he want to make it last. No doubt, he was driving very few miles on the Island of O‘ahu, which measures only some 65 miles by 45 miles at its longest points. One can drive all the way around the island in three hours, and that allows for the 35 mile-per-hour speed limit that is posted on the two-lane coastal roads. Then, too, as one grows older, one begins to see a certain futility in spending large sums of money. The old Caddy was still basically a good car, after all. Why trade it in?


But there is yet another possible reason why Jack drove his 1969 (or 1970) Sedan DeVille for nearly thirty years. Price! A 2017 Cadillac CT-6 (as close to the Sedan DeVille as Cadillac makes today) costs $63,500 on the mainland, yet $88,500 in Honolulu. We know shipping adds to the cost of everything, but this is ridiculous! If one of us were to ship our car to Honolulu, we would pay in the neighborhood of $1,000, not $25,000. So, yes, Jack probably decided he could make a lot of repairs to the old Caddy before he came close to paying what shipping, alone, would cost on a new car.

 

Still, both time and wear-and-tear age a car. When the Caddy broke down, Jack took it to the Kahala Shell Auto Center on Waialae Avenue for repairs (Sigall, ibid). He was no mechanic, himself, and had little patience when his car stopped running, insisting “It’s never done anything like this before!” Word is he could be rather intimidating when it came to such matters (Sigall, ibid); after all, Jack liked his car to operate as smoothly as he liked business on the set of Five-0 to operate.

 

Jack had personalized license plates on his car long before they became fashionable. His read “Five-0” and attracted interested glances as he made his way along the Lunalilo Freeway wearing one of his beloved aloha shirts and lauhala hats (Jack Lord on the Lycos website, more details needed). He drove his car well and often. RJL member EricW recalls the day Jack pulled up before his art gallery, raised the deck of the car’s long trunk, and began lifting out paintings for Eric to display for him (E-mail message from Eric Westerlund to Webmaster, 2012).


Two years after Jack's death, a fan of Jack's and Five-0 purchased the car from Marie and had it shipped home to California for restoration to like-new condition (Sigall, ibid). At that time, the white Cadillac Sedan DeVille was 30+ years old, yet with minimal servicing, it still ran (Sigall, ibid). It is good to know that someone now owns the car who appreciates it and its long-time owner.


Is This Jack's Car?

A white 1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille  was listed for sale on Cadillac Forums that seems like it might have been Jack's car.

The listing says it was “originally purchased in Honolulu” (1969 Cadillac Sedan DeVille (hard-top, 4 door). Cadillac Forums. http://www.cadillacforums.com/cadillac-classifieds/ad-archive/p3411-1969-cadillac-sedan-deville28hard-top-2c-4-door-29.html).  That ties in with Jack buying a car when Hawaii Five-0 first aired. New models come out in the fall of the previous year; thus, a 1969 model would come out in the fall of 1968.


The listing says the current seller is the car’s second owner (Cadillac Forums, ibid).  That ties in with Jack being the first and long-time owner of the car, with Marie selling the car following Jack’s passing, and with the current seller being the only other owner of the car.


The listing also says the car was repainted in 1999 (Cadillac Forums, ibid).  This ties in with a report from Eddie Sherman that the car was starting to rust (Sherman, Eddie. Frank, Sammy, Marlon & Me: Adventures in Paradise with the Celebrity Set. Honolulu: Watermark Publishing, 2006, p. 206) and with a report that the buyer had the car detailed “to look like new” upon shipping it to California (Sigall, Bob, ibid).


The listing also reports that the car has needed only minor repairs since the second owner purchased it and that it runs well even today, 48 years after it first entered service with Jack and Marie (Cadillac Forums, ibid).


The only unclear point is whether the car mentioned in Bob Sigall’s article is this car or, as he stated, a 1967 model. Because the mechanic at the Kahala Shell station mentioned only one car, and because the car beside which Jack is shown standing clearly is a 1969 or 1970 model, I believe it is safe to assume the mechanic simply misstated the model year. In making this assumption, I draw from the legal principle of “preponderance of the evidence,” which is used when a point cannot be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt.