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1949 Cadillac coupe street rodded


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I somehow need to share this to relieve a little of my pain. I am not a 100% originality fan, but to street rod such a nice original car is in my opinion close to a crime. 

This is about a 49 Caddy coupe on eBay a few years back. The car was formerly owned by a less prominent Hollywood star, Adolph Menjou. At that time I couldn't afford it, but now I stumbled over it again, streetrodded in 2017. For sure high quality work, no doubt. But why did they not take a beaten up example for that? Judge by yourself. 

 

https://www.rkmotors.com/blog/1949-Cadillac-Custom

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I share your pain Hans, but my modus operandi is to not "rain on someone else's parade". Obviously the new owners wanted to create their dream concept (which we must admit is well done if that is your thing), and regrettably that meant sacrificing a wonderfully original car. Hopefully this thread will have only a short run on this AACA site, and not become a litany of grievances. I remember Adolpf Menjou's name, seem to recall he was in many 30's/40's/50's movies and some TV series in the 50's perhaps? 

Edited by Gunsmoke (see edit history)
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Wow, what a waste of a beautiful car. The chances of this car lasting for another 73 years is zero. From here it will get chopped up more and more by each consecutive owner to meet their tastes, until it finally gets junked or parted. It's sad...

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To answer the original question, always start with the nicest, most complete car before moving forward. By starting with a nice base, thousands of dollars were most likely saved where rust/rot/missing parts were not needed. This is true whether hot rodding, customizing or restoring a car.

 

 

 

 

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Yes, the word "crime" pretty much sums that up. I don't dislike hot rods at all. Early hot rodders were saving old cars before many restorers were - at least old Fords and Chevies - most of them beat up and headed for the crusher. However, I don't understand the impulse to see every old car as nothing more than a canvas on which a rodder can "create" or "express themselves." What they're "creating" is a rolling shrine to themselves, exemplified perfectly by that hideous red car.

 

Even as expensive as they are nowadays, old original or restored cars are cultural artifacts that are within the financial means of most people. They're a connection to our own past or the past of previous generations. Doing that to an authentic Cadillac is like doing this to the original Mona Lisa (at least this is only a shirt):

 

 

 

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Edited by JamesR (see edit history)
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Maybe that hit me so hard, because I had really considered that car when it was on ebay and it was only slightly above my pain point money wise. Now it is gone forever. But how is the saying... We cannot save them all.

If somebody wants to get rid of a 1948/49 Caddy coupe, let me know, pleeeease. 

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An absolutely BEAUTIFUL build & I applaud him for doing it! I love pretty much all types of cars in our hobby...Original, Original Restored AND Hot Rodded. Like what was pointed out above, you ALWAYS start with the best possible candidate available in the body style & year that you want to build. Now if the purists that can't see past their narrow likes wanted to pony up 30 or 40 grand additional to build the same car out of something that needed floors, rockers & quarters...I am sure something could be worked out!

I would prefer very low production cars would stay original/ restored to original as low production cars appeal to me as I have a 3 that are relatively low (2500 or less), However I will never begrudge someone for hot rodding one, after all it is THEIR car!

 

By the way Adolf Menjou also did some radio programs back then as I am a fan of the Radio Classics channel on Sirius XM radio & hear his name mentioned as playing in some of the programs.

 

God bless

Bill

https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/threads/nationwide-single-car-transport-hauling-open-or-enclosed.614419/

Edited by Bills Auto Works (see edit history)
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I think people should be caretakers of history;

and the older and rarer it becomes, the more care

spent to preserve it historically for future generations.

Why should a tree last 400 years;  a building 200 years;

a car 70 years;  only to have its latest owner of just

a year or two destroy it for his personal pleasure?

 

But, thinking of something complimentary to say,

I think the interior is well done, and if any NEW cars

had interiors with such a handsome design, it would

be a big draw:

 

 

junk--1949 Cadillac custom interior.jpg

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58 minutes ago, a griffin said:

To answer the original question, always start with the nicest, most complete car before moving forward. By starting with a nice base, thousands of dollars were most likely saved where rust/rot/missing parts were not needed. This is true whether hot rodding, customizing or restoring a car.

 

 

 

 

Very good advice for anybody new here on AACA wanting to restore any specific car.  Also, it's not just saving money, the countless "extra" hours/years of time spent in your prior "best younger years", is that maybe more important as we enviably get old?

 

How many rough cars will never be finished because the owners simply got too old?  The market is always full of abandoned projects or estate sale finds.  I watch YT videos of estate sales and get bummed out seeing broken dreams of well intentioned people who just never got to finish their once prized car.

 

 

 

 

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Why street rod a nice (non rusty) complete car?   Because it makes financial sense.  My guess is that the bill was at least $400k to build it. ( could be over a million).   Why pay someone $100-250 an hour to fix up a rusty junker and add 6 months to the project.    Waste of time and money when you can get a nice car to start with for $30-50k. 
 

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2 hours ago, a griffin said:

To answer the original question, always start with the nicest, most complete car before moving forward. By starting with a nice base, thousands of dollars were most likely saved where rust/rot/missing parts were not needed. This is true whether hot rodding, customizing or restoring a car.

 

 

 

 

Start with the BEST restoration or modified, life is short, some people want to have a finished car before they are finished. Personally I prefer the Ray Cambell '49 Caddy they built on Texas Metal. That was shown over and over just a few days ago on Discovery. The late '40's fast backs look Great Rodded!. 

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Modifications had begun on this car before the customization.  All were reversable to bring this car back to original status.  Look back at the interior photo and you will see non-original upholstery, headliner and carpet.  The two tone dash has been all sprayed black including painting some of the chrome black.  The door panels have been cut for speakers.  The steering wheel is shot and needs restoration.  Rubber gaskets have been painted over.  Dual exhaust has been added.  It appears to be a solid car.  I don't know what the EBay price was, but it was most likely too high for someone who wanted an original car, considering the cost to correct what was wrong or to someone who would enjoy it as is.  I assume the seller was able to get their price in this sale.

 

My preference is always to keep the car original, but it's not my car, so I can't complain.  I just hope the parts removed found their way to the restoration market and not scraped.

Quote

 

 

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Different strokes for different folks. He bought it it’s his to do what he wants with it. I may not agree that it is good but that doesn’t affect him in the least. 
if someone buys a rusted out hulk and puts it in a well sealed barn and does nothing with it is that keeping a car as an original car. He’s not changing anything. All I’m saying is it’s his to do what he wants with it. If you bought it you get to make those decisions. 
dave s 

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It's painful for me to look at, especially as a long-time '49 Cadillac owner.  But look on the bright side:  The decision to spend this much money and effort hotrodding a Club Coupe shows that the Club Coupe's incredible style remains widely appreciated.  And hopefully this will lead a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't be interested in a stock '49 to ask, "wait, what kind of car is that?"  You never know what might spark an interest in the original cars.

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It's one of those cars where you wonder how anyone could think they could make it more beautiful. That's arguably the best-looking car of the 1940s.

 

Like the guy who re-made "Psycho" (the movie) a few years ago, as if the original needed improvement.

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Reactions as expected.

Terry

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19 minutes ago, TAKerry said:

On the brighter side, everyone with a 49 caddy coupe can expect the value of theirs to rise a bit as there is one less 'original' car out there.

Maybe others LIKE the look of that OP car and there will be 6-12 others under construction once the doner/ poor restoration is found and bought. 

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2 hours ago, 1937hd45 said:

IF that car in the OP started out as a $200.00 rust ball the complainers WOULD STILL COMPLAIN. 

People are expressing their legitimate opinions,

and love for historical vehicles.  I don't think they

are merely "complaining."  I agree that car fans

want to see cars preserved, and a rusty hulk could

be a source of some parts for a thorough restoration.

 

45 minutes ago, Terry Bond said:

Reactions as expected.

Well said, Terry!  New insights and research findings,

on another thread, would be a good use of our time! 

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Most of  my life, about 63 of them involved in the car hobby, I have heard the guardians proclaim some car too rough and not fit to be restored. It would make a good car for a hot rodder. Also the one they didn't want and called it a "good father and son project" (I always think Menendez brothers on that one).

 

The Cadillac 5 passenger coupe is one of about 7,500 built. There are a lot of them saved. Many more than saved were worn out and scrapped. I even bet a few were disassembled by well-meaning restorers who underestimated the cost and over estimated their skills. I have seen a lot of sandblasted and painted chassis with unfinished bodies and interiors, enough to call it a common syndrome of the hobby.

 

I like a lot of different kinds of cars and have fairly intimate knowledge and experience with a lot. I know what a nice car one of those '49 Model 62's is to drive. The owner of the modified probably does not. Even if they tried a restored one the performance may have fallen shot.

People just don't know how to maintain and repair cars, any cars. "If you don't know how to fix it modify it. Surely it will work then. Their peer group told them.

 

The drunks say "If you keep hanging around the barber shop you are going to end up with a haircut". Now where would you hang around to end up with disc brakes, and LS, and an aluminum radiator? Not my garage, but there are places.

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Nothing wrong with doing a custom car of your own, just don't do it over someone's work. If you're good enough, make your own car and if you're not good enough leave someone else's work alone.

The Club Coupe as intended

 1949 Cadillac Series 6207 2DR Fastback 5P Club Coupe (Sorry Sold) - YouTube  

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My personal observations on this subject and this particular car, I too prefer an automobile in its original condition restored or not. However if someone buys a car its pretty much theirs to do with what they want. I do like the looks of the finished product and it def. is a high end job. I would not kick it out of my garage but would not go out of my way to own it either. Someone will be driving and enjoying it (probably on a limited basis though). Its not like this was the ONLY 49 cadillac left on the planet. To me not a lot of difference than someone with a large collection stashed away in a warehouse somewhere that will never be seen by anyone.  Their cars, do what they want with them. 

I see a lot of these type of cars at shows I go to. Most are not done to this level of finesse but there are those that are. I figure at least someone is enjoying the old car hobby and if this is their way of doing than so be it.

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5 minutes ago, TAKerry said:

...However if someone buys a car its pretty much theirs to do with what they want....

I agree with you in legal terms, Kerry;  but we are all

caretakers of history, and we have a responsibility too,

to be GOOD caretakers.  Imagine, "Well, I bought Mount

Vernon, but I didn't care for George Washington's architecture.

I tore it down to build some vinyl-sided condominiums."

 

This brings up a larger point.  I have pondered that,

when a car is sold, a conscientious seller might have the buyer

sign some form of legal agreement akin to a Deed of Trust:

The car shall not be resold for a specified period of time--

to keep out flippers--and any work on it shall keep it

in its authentic condition--to keep it from street-rodders.

No genuine and caring hobbyist would object to that.

 

I am firm.  Appreciate the good and promote it;  keep out

anything else.

 

 

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I will have to agree to disagree. Comparing apples to oranges. There have been upteen millions of cars made. One Mt. Vernon. I think there is some kind of historical trust for the automobile (not that it has any official or legal binding that I know of) that distinguishes significantly historic cars. I think the Hirohata Mercury is even on there. I see zero difference in the preservation of an antique car between someone customizing one and someone taking 2+ (one or more parts cars) to restore 1 car. I have seen a lot of cars that were deemed 'too bad/costly' to restore and relegated to be chopped up. At what level is a car 'Too costly to repair'. That is between the car and the current owners bank account. 

I believe in a society that if I work for money and buy something I should be able to do what I want with it. For better or worse. If I have a car in particular that I want to see remain in a preserved state then I would not sell it. Otherwise let the guy buying it do what they want. To use your analogy, I like the way my house looks, when I sell should I put in the contract that future owners cannot make any changes?

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John, I also disagree and think Kerry’s thinking is right on target. The right of ownership gives an individual the freedom to do what he wants with the car. That would also apply to a building someone purchased as long as there were not preexisting covenants in place like being on the National Trust, historical register or local ordinances. That really is the beauty of this country. We are free to do as we like within the law and in todays way of thinking and pressure to follow one persons idea of right and wrong, that freedom needs to be expressed and appalled not discouraged. 
dave s 

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I agree with you guys (Dave and Kerry) to a degree.

Freedom is important, and every person has rights.

But I maintain that we also have moral responsibilities,

and we as individuals can make agreements--such as

with a buyer to preserve a house or car--to do the

nearest right.

 

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Life has many memorable events that form our thinking. In 1977 I had and 1939 Buick Special needing an engine rebuild. I was considering a Buick 350 engine. But had concerns about maintaining the originality. I attended the BCA Nationals in Strongsville, OH and took this picture.

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No more worries about posterity. They had it covered.

 

I did not modify the car. It was sold and restored. But I did hold the thought that others were treasuring the past even if I didn't.

 

That 350 Buick engine did find a home in a '60 Ford pickup.

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57 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

I agree with you guys (Dave and Kerry) to a degree.

Freedom is important, and every person has rights.

But I maintain that we also have moral responsibilities,

and we as individuals can make agreements--such as

with a buyer to preserve a house or car--to do the

nearest right.

 

Agree completely. I for one would never take a car in as good of condition as this one appeared to be and 'butcher' it. 

 

 

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The Mt Vernon vs a million cars comparison is in my opinion not right, because this 49 Caddy is rare and likely only a limited amount , maybe only a few dozens, are left. This gives them the historical importance not to butcher them, that future generations have a chance to watch them in their original state. But what to do if you see this significance and others don't? Then there is only a contractual agreement that can help preserve the car.... 

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I’ve garage restored 7 or 8 cars in my lifetime. Only one didn’t get an original era engine and that was only because I needed the car running and didn’t have the $$ to buy an original engine. A $25 junk yard block Ford 289 went into an Austin Healy. So I agree I wouldn’t destroy a beautiful car for a hot rod. But that’s me and I do not have the right to force my idea of what is historically correct on any one else. My opinion doesn’t mean a damn thing except to me. If it was the RIGHT of someone to tell me what to do I would be in deep trouble. There are people out there that say we must arm ourselves with assault weapons because we have the right to do that. I’ve seen what those weapons can do and CHOOSE not to do that, does that make me wrong. No I have the right to do it or not. The right to customize a car or not has nothing to do with an obligation to be correct historically, it is the sole right of the owner of the vehicle. To me it just proves some people are very ignorant or just plain stupid in their decisions to do that to a car, but I can not control that or any other type thinking. I personally may think I know all the right answers or have super powers but that only proves I’m a legend in my own mind. 
dave s 

Edited by SC38dls (see edit history)
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It's difficult because unlike buildings, properties, neighborhoods, an automobile is not fixed in any one place (by definition).  Historic towns, neighborhoods and buildings can be protected because they (generally) aren't going anywhere or being sold to the highest bidder, at least once their historic value is recognized.  But objects that can (easily) be moved from place to place?  Much more difficult to control...  Even art, sculpture, etc., unless it has been designated as culturally valuable by a government who can back it up with enforceable laws, the highest bidder can buy a high dollar painting, sculpture and do what they want with it no matter how reprehensible it may seem to most people.  It would seem that unless culturally significant automobiles can be protected similar to historic buildings, there isn't a whole lot we can do.  When you get into mass produced autos, I think it would be difficult indeed to get agreement on which are significant enough and which aren't to be so protected.

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We've covered this story before, many many times.   If it's yours, it's like your wife.  If you are happy that;s all that matters.

What I think about your wife is basically unwanted information, same with your cars.  

I've restored cars to show, to drive and to sell.  I've also built a few "Resto-Mods", but I like them to still look pretty stock because

that's what attracted me in the first place.   My two Resto-Mods were a ford with a later model Ford engine and a Buick with later

model Buick running gear.   I'm happy with them and prefer to drive my stock 1934 Ford Flathead V8, because the tours for antique

are more fun than the power tours.    My 2 cents.

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It's my money, I can do what I want!

 image.jpeg.8c7056f3756d3444c0ac6c33cc74f87a.jpegThe 6 most controversial art vandalisms of all time

 

And most people will think you are an idiot.

I consider the automobile a piece of rolling art. Let the idiots show their ideocracy and disrespect for someone else's work because that's all it proves.

Now by designing and building your own car proves you are not an idiot. 

Edited by Pfeil (see edit history)
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This forum knows of more people than can be counted who have hoarded countless cars and let them rot into oblivion. We use terms to describe them like "its a shame they never got to it" or, "they are a prolific collector".  Seldom are they damned for their actions. (Hell, that described many who are reading this now)  Now put the term "hot rod" into the equation, and words like " ideocracy and disrespect", "crime", and "moral responsibilities".  (all quotes from this topic)

 

Ever notice that you seldom see an intrinsically or historically valuable antique automobile hot rodded?  In my opinion it's because the car has inherent value, and to modify it reduced that value. Common sense. But the doesn't apply to 99.9% of the cars that have been modified/hot rodded.  Hell, not even most of the cars restored!

 

I prefer restored antique automobiles. (It's why I started this forum 23 years ago!).  But I also goto hot rod car shows.  (shocking, I know).  Why?  Because I like cars!  I drive original beaters. Why? Because I like driving them, not restoring them. Have I put incorrect paint, interior, tires or mechanical  parts on a car? Yup.  Does that make me a bad person for enjoying modified cars or not "preserving history"?   You be the judge, but from my perspective... HECK NO!   Own them, drive them, restore them, modify them...  heck, let them sit in your yard and rot.  It's our choice.

To complain or damn others for not strictly restoring there cars is childish.  Disagree all you like, but at least acknowledge it's there right.

 

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