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Agnes’ legendary Dodge City Eldorado rolls on

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, May 9, 2014, at 3:07 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 6:34 a.m.

Heather Schultz grew up in Dodge City and vividly remembers the big Dodge City Days Parade held every summer. One of the most memorable things for her was seeing Agnes Gladden chauffeur governors and Miss Kansas down the parade route perched on the rear deck of a huge convertible.

“Agnes was kind of a local celebrity herself. She owned five different Cadillacs and she had matching wigs to go with each car,” Schultz recalled. In fact, when Gladden passed away in June 2006, her obituary noted she had only missed one parade over the years and had served as the parade’s grand marshal in 2004.

While attending a high school reunion last year, Schultz and one of Gladden’s grandsons, Ken Burkhart, got to discussing Agnes’ parade cars. He said all but one of the cars had been passed down to family members.

To her surprise, Burkhart called her and asked if she would like to see the car, a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible in Firethorn Metallic, a bright red color.

“I just couldn’t help myself. It was love at first sight. I wanted it … and they recognized that I didn’t need a wig to have the car, since I have red hair,” Schultz said.

“It had always been garaged. They did repaint it, but the interior (overstuffed white leather seats) is original. The carpet was replaced, but the white top is still good. It didn’t run when I bought it, but I said, ‘I’ll take it,’ ” she recalled.

The family had the fuel injectors replaced on the big 500 cubic inch engine at no charge to her and the Caddy was ready to make the trip to Wichita. Schultz and her husband, Gene, retrieved the car last December.

“It handles amazingly well. And it will move, man, it will move,” she said. For Cadillac, 1976 was the first year for fuel injection on the Eldorado and the last year of the 500 cubic inch V-8 engine. Schultz’ prized convertible is a front-wheel drive luxury car that measures in at a whopping 18.6 feet long.

Schultz had hoped to drive Kenneth Gladden, Agnes’ husband, in the Caddy in this year’s Dodge City Days Parade, but sadly, he passed away in March.

“I really do want to take it back to Dodge, so my cheerleader friends and I can cruise Wyatt Earp Boulevard in Agnes’ Eldorado,” Schultz said. “I just feel like this car is a piece of history coming out of Dodge City,” she said. She is honored to be the only non-family member to own one of those special Cadillacs.

Reach Mike Berry at mberry@wichitaeagle.com.

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