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The Death of a 1931 Cadillac


BillhymerMD
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Yeah , if they are too far gone , everything right about doing this. Maybe some of the original parts have been transplanted where they can help. I wonder what engine it has ? Hopefully a 472/500 Cadillac , thereby preserving the "soul" of this car. We have all seen missed opportunities do do just that. Restoration ? Surely not , I am afraid. Resurrection ? Hmmmmm , ? Maybe. Reincarnation ? Uh - huh ! Reincarnation ! Reincarnation ! But I guess Karmic continuation demands preservation of lineage. Way too many Chev 350s in way too many cars. (Whew ! Good night , Mike , and all).  -  Carl

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12 minutes ago, 1937hd45 said:

Looks like a nice solid project to take over, not everyone can afford a 1932 Ford 3Window. Bob

 In my humble opinion, I have no problem with someone hot rodding a 3 window ford all day long but I believe there are certain Marques that should not go down this road.  I don't own the car so I have no say but seems a shame to me for a full classic to be chopped. 

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I think it's a matter of degree or state of deterioration.  If a car is mostly complete and can be economically restored, I agree that it is an abomination to "hot rod" or extensively modify it.  With that said, if a car is a basket case (just a jumble of parts) and one step ahead of the crusher, by all means do whatever is required to put the car back on the road.  What results from such modifications might be only barely recognizable as, for example, a 1931 Cadillac, but there may be enough of the original marque left in the soul of the hot rod that folks could appreciate the origin of the hot rod itself.  I'm a hot rodder, but I hate to see a restorable or survivor car modified.  Along with my modifieds (hot rods), is a 1938 Chevrolet survivor, which I'm almost afraid to touch ... such is my reverence for the originality of the vehicle.  To each his own, but please, do not destroy history.

 

Just my opinion,

Grog

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10 hours ago, capngrog said:

I think it's a matter of degree or state of deterioration.  If a car is mostly complete and can be economically restored, I agree that it is an abomination to "hot rod" or extensively modify it.  With that said, if a car is a basket case (just a jumble of parts) and one step ahead of the crusher, by all means do whatever is required to put the car back on the road. 

 

Grog, I agree with this. 

 

I also hate seeing rare cars being raped and destroyed beyond the point of no return.

 

Eric

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11 hours ago, C Carl said:

P.S. : I just realized , still with Grand National reverberations bouncing around in my head , if this Coupe really is Cadillac powered , it could be exhibited in "Modified" , right ?  - CC

 

Couldn't be shown in AACA but maybe in the new CLC Modified class?

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So he cut's up a rare car and in the middle of the job he throws in the towel and put's it on E-Bay. Too bad he didn't really think about it BEFORE he started. Hopefully some one will purchase the car and at least finish the job so the car can be presentable.

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yes can any car be economically restored?  I don't believe it possible in this day and age.

 

 I had complete 42 Packard Limo 27 years,  Not too terrible of shape, but it either going to be sold or parted to others.  sad as this was the car we drove and use in out wedding 25 years ago.  But to much idle time, some 20 year without running. . 

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25 minutes ago, packards42 said:

... can any car be economically restored?  I don't believe it possible in this day and age.

 

Time marches on.  Cars we could once purchase on car lot back rows for $100 went the way of the dinosaur.  Around 30 years ago, vehicles with hundreds of computers on board were still to come and shade tree mechanics could still work on them.  Being so, parts stores still had items on their shelves.  In this age of sealed engines with 100,000 mile warranties and 80% electronics, shade tree mechanics have also went the way of the dino.   Junk yards, in general, only keep stock for cars 10 years old or newer and crush the rest - which includes the classics, leaving the pool of original parts shallow.  That means, supply and demand dictates costs.   Also in this age of technology, people's eye for detail have become keener and so, restorations are more scrutinized than in the past.

 

Eric

 

Edited by X-Frame (see edit history)
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5 hours ago, 46 woodie said:

So he cut's up a rare car and in the middle of the job he throws in the towel and put's it on E-Bay. Too bad he didn't really think about it BEFORE he started. Hopefully some one will purchase the car and at least finish the job so the car can be presentable.

Too bad you didn't read the article. The owner didn't lose interest. The car sat for 30 years and was purchased by the current owner in 2004 who then chopped it. In 2013 he decided to do another "refurbish" but developed cancer and later died. The family is selling it.

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To people who view full classics as works of art, it's painful to see them destroyed.  And rightly so it upsets a few of us.  One could argue that "its not your car so why do you care."  But that is a lot like asking a baseball card collector not to care if someone buys a rare Babe Ruth card and then promptly cuts it into 20 pieces and then tapes it all back together.  It makes you sick that there is one fewer example of that car out there for posterity.    And this was a rare car.  

Edited by BillhymerMD
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38 minutes ago, BillhymerMD said:

To people who view full classics as works of art, it's painful to see them destroyed.  And rightly so it upsets a few of us.  One could argue that "its not your car so why do you care."  But that is a lot like asking a baseball card collector not to care if someone buys a rare Babe Ruth card and then promptly cuts it into 20 pieces and then tapes it all back together.  It makes you sick that there is one fewer example of that car out there for posterity.    And this was a rare car.  

 

I agree.  When you swap the matching numbers chassis and engine then chop, channel, and torch the rest while gutting the interior, what is left?  Nothing you can work with to restore the car back to original.   Like you said, some people only see it as a car and could care less about collectability.  One further with your baseball analogy is that some will only see it as a piece of cardboard so what is all of the hoopla with the value? 

 

It sickens me to see rare or low number cars being altered beyond any future restoration.  Might as well send it to the crusher.

 

Eric

 

 

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This is precisely the reason I bought the '38 Plymouth coupe I'm currently restoring. It was a very complete, original, rust free car but it fell into the hands of a guy who decided to rod it. He dismantled the entire car, and got as far as cutting part of the front floor section out to accept a V-8, automatic. Luckily the floor section was still with the car. The fellow wound up passing away and his family put the car up for sale. I was on an intent search for a '38 Buick Century when I stumbled across this coupe. I HAD to save it. Sold the V-8 and auto trans, again I was fortunate as the original drive train was still amongst the parts stacked in the garage, and started the complete restoration process. And, while it's no Buick Century (or '31 Cadillac), it is beautiful in it's simplicity.

20160428_190804.jpg

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9 hours ago, Restorer32 said:

Can any car be "economically restored" ?

 

 

Well,  it depends on how one defines both "economically" and "restored".  I buy relatively rust-free non running cars (low value $) and get them running.  Sometimes I'll need to do some minor rust repair, but other times just I'll stabilize the rust so that I doesn't progress.  The old phrase, "Rust never sleeps" is absolutely true, but it is much less active in my humidity-controlled garage.  The extent of my restorations is getting the vehicle to run and drive reliably and then do a cosmetic detailing.  I don't do upholstery, and I don't do much paint-wise.  None of my cars become show cars, but they sure are fun to drive.  I guess the best thing that can be said for what I do is that the cars don't deteriorate further under my care.  I'll gladly sell to the guys who want to do the full Barrett-Jackson type restorations. 

 

Just my opinion,

Grog

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To my sometimes confused mind , another interpretation of the cars history is possible. Thrashed out of the barn by someone else in the early 2000s , THEN sold in 2004 to the late owner who enjoyed it for years. Etc. as per family's explanation. My first gut shot feeling when Joe revealed yet another 350ized , now soul-less hot rod , was to quote the kid in the movie about the "Black Sox" scandal : "Say it ain't so , Joe" , but it is , sadly so. You know , if there were not massive interesting Cadillac power options readily available , what the hay ! But looka here : lots of us play around with our Cad mills , and are quite aware of the plethora of speed equipment for a hot rod "Kitty". 514s , 527s , strokers , huffers , headers , manifolds , oh ! I just thought of something I have posted in the past. Lemmee see if I can post it up. Give me a few minutes , or more. I will post seperately so as not to risk losing this clever babble. Stand by. Or not.  - C Carl

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Sonny Wisner's (left , standing behind) "Studillac". 0.050 over makes it a 514. You see some of the goodies. Yup. They are 45mm Webbers. Now there were Studillacs in the past. 331s. Look , you all know I am partial to Cadillacs. So to me , I don't regard a "Studillac" as soul-less  This is , as far as I know , the definitive "Studillac". Do any of you know of a contender ? At any rate , with all the work that has gone into this tormented '31 coupe , mightn't the original fabricator have been well advised to plop something like this into it ? It would still , then , be a Cadillac. And I am sure at that point it could have been "Modified" , and displayed as such in CLC events. Let me get some corroborating black and white verbiage . Seems the "times they are a changing" , and if still a Cadillac , the mutilated potent , comfortable , air conditioned , unique , truely attractive in its way , hot rod would have been elegible for judging in the not too distant future ! Changing , indeed !  - CC

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Although not my preference, there are those who enjoy modified cars.  What bothers me is the huge number of unfinished cars I see on Craigslist and other sites.  Many that are completed sit for sale for years because the design was too personalized for anyone else to buy.  Hopefully for us restorers, the parts removed were sold with the interest of keeping others of this model on the road.  In closing, I wish that anyone attempting to build a modified car be sentenced to complete it before it is sold.

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 That car died a long time ago.

 

 That's when nobody wanted to spend any money to restore it to its previous glory.

Then some one said, its a shame to let it decompose, I like the styling, it just needs a few modifications to bring it back to life.

 

 So now it is in the public's eye and everybody's saying what a shame, but nobody's saying I will buy it and spend money to restore it to it's previous glory!

 

 Monday morning quarterbacks with long pockets and short arms need not reply.

 

 Ps, Here is one for all of you that cried foul, now is your chance to save one yourself

 https://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5556032064.html

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You would be further ahead to save the 18? Olds I posted in the for sale section (not mine).  I think there are plenty of model A's that have been saved.  Maybe a rarer car would deserve saving over a pretty stripped modified A carcass. 

I thought the Olds was just a good parts car anyways as it had good gauges,  alot of it's original upholstery and other usually missing odds and ends.  Not to mention the price the seller wanted for the parts.  I'm not even sure how good of a parts car the A is.

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2 hours ago, Roger Walling said:

 That car died a long time ago.

 

 That's when nobody wanted to spend any money to restore it to its previous glory.

Then some one said, its a shame to let it decompose, I like the styling, it just needs a few modifications to bring it back to life.

 

 So now it is in the public's eye and everybody's saying what a shame, but nobody's saying I will buy it and spend money to restore it to it's previous glory!

 

 Monday morning quarterbacks with long pockets and short arms need not reply.

 

 Ps, Here is one for all of you that cried foul, now is your chance to save one yourself

 https://hartford.craigslist.org/cto/5556032064.html

 

I think you missed the point.  The point is that someone chopped a "Full Classic".  Full Classics are set apart by the CCCA for a reason.  I don't propose that every old car be saved.  But certain classics are set apart for a reason and should be.  This was one of them.  The car you give a link to is nice and cool but but no not the same thing.  IMO

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Guest BillP

Here's the way I see it. In its original state, that Cad was unusual, attractive and represented the pinnacle of technology, grace and style for its time. Over the years, it became a used, then maybe a misused, then an unused car. It finally met a fate too cruel for many old car guys to accept.

 

The real difficult part for me is the attitude that I refer to as, "I want to be different just like everybody else." If you can bear to look at HAMB, at least once a week, someone will show up with a nice Model A or late forties sedan or whatever and the thread boils over with orders to chop it, put in a 9 inch Ford, clip it and put in different suspension, ad nauseum. Usually and rapidly, lacking skill, experience and wisdom, the guy gets in over his head when maybe all he really wanted to do was have a nice car to ride around in. The car gets pushed outside with all the old parts and eventually it all becomes a new LG refrigerator. He should have gotten a Chevelle. I overstate, but maybe not by much.

 

This Cadillac, with vision, artistry, skill and of course, some money might have gone a different way. I don't have a picture handy, but Alvan MaCauley's Packard of around 1927 comes to mind. With twin rear-mounted spares, a rakishly low roof line and numerous custom touches in and out, it might have been a worthy guide for giving this Cad a new life. Instead, it got those obligatory, gigantic wheels that are merely silly on a Caprice, here they are ludicrous. There's no room for jounce without knocking the fenders off their perches. An early thirties Cad v8 or 12 or even 16 would be right for the car and not impossible to source. Subdued paint, tasteful chrome, rich and not garish interior and I feel this could have been a car to give a second or even third glance at down at the car show.

 

As it is, well, I agree with Dr. Hymer.

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There are so many complaining that it wasn't restored, it is "destroyed" or all the other descriptors. But I don't see anyone who is passionate enough to buy it and restore it. I don't like seeing solid rare and desirable cars rodded like the lazy Boyd Cotterpin was famous for, but we don't know how far gone this car was before the project started. If it so offends anyone, then go buy it and restore it. Otherwise you have to understand that the alternative could easily be scrap.It lives on customized, that better than crushed.

 

A well done rod can be dignified and and a tribute to the history of the car or marque. Better rodded than rusted and busted...

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In future years these "self-appointed" car designers will be vilified for the mutilation of these original cars.  It gives me great pleasure to see when a chopped and modified car brings 1/2 the value of an untouched original as the "re-builder" loses his financial ass.  And its happening more and more all the time.

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What is common one day is rare the next. What was once hated becomes the most desirable. Any custom done to a high standard will hold it's value and often becomes more valuable than an original. People act as if he took a low mileage survivor and customized it as Floyd Cotterpin used to do. A car saved from the scrapper and customized lives on. No matter what car it is, if it's scrapped... it's gone forever. If anyone is so upset at this, go buy it and restore it. Be a solution rather than an observer. I have yet to hear one single person offer to buy it.

 

I do not wish anyone to lose their ass as that is just petty and immature. Nobody had a fit when G. Barris customized a one off Lincoln for the Batmobile. 

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Guest Roj
16 minutes ago, Amphicar BUYER said:

What is common one day is rare the next. What was once hated becomes the most desirable. Any custom done to a high standard will hold it's value and often becomes more valuable than an original. People act as if he took a low mileage survivor and customized it as Floyd Cotterpin used to do. A car saved from the scrapper and customized lives on. No matter what car it is, if it's scrapped... it's gone forever. If anyone is so upset at this, go buy it and restore it. Be a solution rather than an observer. I have yet to hear one single person offer to buy it.

 

I do not wish anyone to lose their ass as that is just petty and immature. Nobody had a fit when G. Barris customized a one off Lincoln for the Batmobile. 

 

I'm in total agreement with you, I am not a hot rodder, but if it gets people into the hobby, then guess what, it was well worth it.  I have a lot of old original cars, that is what I like, but this gentleman had a different vision.  SO WHAT, if he is having fun, and couldn't take it back to what it was, a least he is getting back on the road!

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We don't know the state this car was found in before this abhorrent "work" began, but I see a couple of misconceptions being stated over and over again. The idea of rod building being cheaper than restoring to original is blown apart by how much these guys invest in these projects. For the money they have into them a restoration back to original would be a comparable expense, unless we are talking rat rod (which this car wasn't headed for). The fact that cars are rodded with intact bodies and flawless body and paint work tells us that the car wasn't "too far gone", or we wouldn't be looking at it with an absolute straight body and beautiful paint, we'd be looking at your typical rat-rod, with rust/patina, rust out holes and the "as found" faults that a rat rod has. The fact that the car is seen completed with a straight, beautifully finished body tell us that this is a choice, and we are two different kinds of people, as different and as intense as religions. We antique/classic/original car guys see the car as a piece out of time and we are the current caretakers. They see the original car, in whatever condition (including a well running older restoration) as inherently broken, and in need of the "#1 Summit Catalog" treatment of a Mexican-built Chevy engine, T-H transmission, GM Tilt column, Ford 9" rear end, repro Rustang II front end, E-Z wiring harness, Classic Air AC, the same seats, and lastly, of late--very minimal sidewall large diameter tires and wheels, for all of the heavy G-force formula 1 driving they plan on doing (sic).  They are the automotive equivalent of high school girls who all want to be like that one cool girl in school, whether or not they can pull it off.  The rodders claim "I want to drive my car" and that our original cars "can't be driven". We know better, of course.

They have climbed every mountain there is to climb with Ford, Chevy and Plymouth cars, and are looking for the rod no one else has, hence the run of Graham Sharknose cars that have been rodded lately. 

It's not as though everyone in the antique/classic restoration community was given a crack at buying this rare Cadillac, all turned it down and it's either rod or being smelted into razor blades and household appliances.  

They are publishing articles showing nicely restored cars, as they bought them, then progress shots of the butchery, then the finished product.  Dang near every show on cable TV that deals with old cars is about rodding, save for Wayne Carini. 

In conclusion, I don't buy into the idea that "the car was too far gone, they had to do this". The numbers don't support that. It's a choice. One I don't agree with. 

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Will be interesting to see how the market treats these cars down the road.  The Ford based traditional hot rods have a link to an interesting era/movement with lasting power that transcends generations (check out the traditional hot rod set or the crowd at TROG, not all grey hair, if anyone is keeping track..) and is likely an era that will interest collectors for some time.  These non traditional hot rods are different, I think.  I mean these cars based on unusual candidates and unfortunately at times nice old originals or even restored cars seem to me like they lack that staying power.  Anyone else remember the custom van craze of the mid-late 70s - all but forgotten and certainly nearly worthless today, an anomaly with very few interest from today's collectors. These things feel like the same to me when their current fans age out - no sticking power, but the damage is done.     

 

 

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

(SNIP) Anyone else remember the custom van craze of the mid-late 70s - all but forgotten and certainly nearly worthless today, an anomaly with very few interest from today's collectors. These things feel like the same to me when their current fans age out - no sticking power, but the damage is done.     

 

 

 

As it turns out, these very vans are gaining in popularity, not an anomaly at all. They are far from forgotten and far from worthless as well. Some of the best examples are bringing high dollar and sought after.

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