For some people customizing rides is a hobby. For others, it’s a way of life. For Devin “Bondo” Roussel it’s most definitely the latter. In high school, Roussel inherited an OBS Chevy from his father. He has been cutting and chopping anything that he could get his hands on ever since. After graduating, he left his truck and his Louisiana home behind to serve in the Air Force. While stationed in Utah Devin happened across a 1961 Cadillac Coupe DeVille – one that started off quite different then the “Plum Daddy Caddy” now pictured here. The coupe filled a void that he had been feeling, and with something new to tinker on, he rented a small storage space and his plans began to unfold.
Roussel was able to complete most of the bodywork and paint in his small space while in Utah. He also built the custom ‘bag setup. After getting out of the Air Force, Devin began to pursue his entrepreneurial dream of opening up a paint&body shop. He and his Caddy headed back home to Louisiana and like many others, his project had to be placed on the back burner. Several years of steady grinding and business building ensued. The road back to his Cadillac dreams was a long one and included helping complete the projects of many friends builds along the way. But finally, his ’61 was directly in his crosshairs.
Photos: Mike Alexander | Words: Jared “Poo” Nowell & MJ Phillips
Devin began the final rebuild by removing the body from the chassis. He completely tore down the suspension and once the frame was back from the blaster he finished it in a black gloss. Devin reassembled the refreshed suspension with a new set of Choppin’ Block control arms. In place of the factory springs, he installed Air Lift Performance Dominator 2600 ‘bags. It was now time to shine – body and paint, which was his of course, the vital component. As the proud owner of his own body shop, Devin needed to give 110% and turn out something totally different.
He started by shaving the lower trim, door handles, and adding two frenched antennas between the fins and trunk lid. But the mark of a true custom are those subtle changes that blend in seamlessly. Body modifications that fly below the radar and easily fool the untrained eye. The rear bumper was stripped of its chrome, cut, and welded to flawlessly mold in with the quarter panels. The trunk was then cut down to about three-quarters of its original length and the remaining section welded to the quarters as well.
The metalwork is of course top-shelf. In sharp contrast with Roussel’s nickname, the customizations included very minimal body filler. The careful cuts resulted in a glassy surface when finished and painted. The car was blocked straight and then primed and it was time for Devin to work his magic in the booth. He started with PPG Vibrance Deep Plum and toned down its saturation. He laid several coats of PPG Vibrance Clear for extreme clarity and shine (but we won’t mention where “Poo” burned through the clear, that’s another story for another time he he). Paint and body this dialed in deserved equally impressive chrome, so the remaining trims were expertly re-plated.
Roussel decided to stay true to the old Cadillac by maintaining the original power plant. He sent both the 390 motor and transmission to be rebuilt. Once back, he painted the block and trans to match. He then contacted Fitech to swap the 60s carb over to modern fuel injection. Next on his list was a custom grind cam to give the stock 390 a little attitude. The V8 was running better than ever, as well as making more power. The TH-400 was buttery smooth. Now it was time to address the rolling attire. For brakes, Devin upgraded to front and rear disc brakes from CPP Performance. He then looked to Colorado Custom Wheels, purchasing a set of their Levansworths. The “billet spoke wheels” measure 22×9-inches all around. They are paired with Nitto 245/30ZR22 tires.
He’d already come this far. Simply giving the stock interior a refresh wasn’t going to cut it. He modified a 1959 impala dash to fit and filled the gauge pod with a set of Dakota Digital VHX gauges. He then contacted Cody Bourgeois at Hooked up Car Audio. Cody built a slick one-off interior and audio system. Custom door panels, four Recaro bucket seats, a custom console, and tray package were all fitted to the cabin. Devin did not want to stick with a factory “bow” headliner. He purchased a roof section and fiberglassed his own board to tuck up tight to the roof. Cody wrapped the majority in black vinyl. The rest was sent to Stephen “Peachy” Frederic at Frederic’s Upholstery. Peachy finished the custom stitching and fitting. In the trunk, two JL Audio 12-inch subs, and a pair of JL amps were mounted in a custom box. Topping it off are twin billet airtanks and compressors from FLO Airride Mfg.
As with many vehicles it may have taken Devin longer than he thought to complete, but the result was worth it. This ’61 is a testament to not only his passion for the scene but dedication to his craft. It’s a cruising business card that demonstrates a commitment to custom quality and style.
Owner’s Special Thanks
Devin would like to thank his wife, Kristen, their son Tucker, Cody at Hooked Up Audio, Poo “60 or 120” Nowell for all the late nights, Stephen “Peachy” Frederic, Anthony “Chicken Wing” Cannon, and his dad Bruce and mother, Bean and everyone for their support of his build and business along the way.
Chassis & Suspensions:
- OEM frame, reinforced and painted
- Custom airbag setup
- Airlift Dominator 2600 bags
- Rebuilt factory 390 V8
- Fitech fuel injection
- Custom grind camshaft
- Custom exhaust
- Rebuilt TH-400 transmission
Wheels & Brakes:
- CPP front and rear disc brakes
- CCW Levansworth 22×9” wheels
- Nitto 245/30ZR22
Body & Paint:
- Shaved lower body trim
- Shave door handles
- Twin frenched antennas
- Smoothed and molded rear bumper
- Cut, smoothed, and molded trunk lid
- Custom mixed PPG Vibrance Deep Plum
- PPG Vibrance clear multi-coat
- Re-chromed trim
Interior and Accessories:
- Modified 1959 Impala dash
- Dakota Digital VHX gauges
- Custom one-off
- Door panels
- Four Recaro Seats
- Twin JL Audio 12” subs
- Twin JL Audio amps
- Twin FLO Airride Mfg. billet air tanks
- Twin FLO Airride Mfg. compressors