The 1948 and 1949 Cadillac launched a new post-war design era and introduced the first tail fins on cars using the famed WWII P-38 Lightning fighter-bomber as design inspiration, following a secret pre-war visit by Harley Earl and his Styling team to Selfridge Field outside Detroit to preview this revolutionary Lockheed aircraft.
The 1948-1949 Cadillac was designed in secret by Earl’s Styling team at designer Frank Hershey’s farmhouse near Detroit, where even clay models were created outside GM’s Detroit Styling studio. When the controversial tail fins were shown to GM senior executives, GM chairman Alfred Sloan was said to have remarked to Cadillac general manager John Gordon, “Now, Jack, you have a Cadillac in the rear as well as the front!” This styling feature would reach a crescendo a decade later in the extravagant tail fins of the 1959 Cadillac.
The 1948 Cadillac styling tour de force became an engineering tour de force with the introduction of the 1949 Cadillac 331 cu. in., 160 horsepower, overhead valve V8 engine, which reduced weight and increased horsepower over the previous flathead V-8. Like the tail fins, this engine stunned the industry and sent rival engineering teams scrambling to compete. The 1949 Cadillac was the fastest American production car and was advertised as having the most advanced automotive engine in the world.
The accolades and wins came swiftly for the 1949 Cadillac. It was named the first Motor Trend “Car of the Year.” It dominated the first Carrera Panamericana road race in Mexico. It had many NASCAR wins. Briggs Cunningham drove one to a strong finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And the 1949 Cadillac was a headline feature car at the first GM Motorama “Transportation Unlimited” in January, 1949 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
This is why the current owner of the car here always wanted a 1949 Cadillac. After looking for many years, this car was found, a Series 62 Club Coupe with only two owners and 89,000 carefully driven miles.
The first owner was a banker in Soldier, Iowa who purchased the car new for $3,695.00 from Wright’s Cadillac Oldsmobile dealership in Onawa, Iowa. The base Series 62 Club Coupe priced at $2,966.00 was delivered with Lucerne Green Metallic No. 16 paint over special order Tan and Brown No. 61 convertible leather interior, a $203.00 upgrade. Other options were Hydramatic transmission at $200.00, special steering wheel at $19.50, license frames at $3.80, wheel discs at $25.00, white sidewall tires at $25.25, glare-proof mirror at $5.50, windshield washer at $11.00, back-up lights at $17.50, automatic heating system at $107.00, Cadillac radio at $85.50, vacuum aerial at $13.60, and outside mirrors at $13.00.
The Iowa banker proudly owned this special Cadillac for nearly 40 years. The second owner was an electrician in nearby Omaha, Nebraska who owned the car for nearly 20 years. The Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe stayed within 50 miles of the Wright’s Cadillac Oldsmobile dealership in Onawa, Iowa where it was sold originally. Both times the car was sold by the families only after the owner had passed away.
The original 1949 Cadillac sales brochure, dealer sales order, Cadillac Owner’s Manual, owner identification card, warranty, and welcome letter from the Cadillac general sales manager all came with car.
With the owner’s longtime friends at Borneman’s Blast From The Past Restoration and Customs in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, a year-long concours restoration was undertaken. Everything was carefully researched and restored to as new operating condition, even down to the tube radio, vacuum antenna, mechanical clock, trunk tools and bumper jack.
This 1949 Cadillac Club Coupe made its debut at the 2018 Radnor Hunt Concours where it was awarded Best in Class in the Feature Fastbacks Class. It was judged at the 2018 AACA Eastern Fall National Meet and received a First Place Award and National Award Nomination which resulted in a prestigious AACA National Award. It was since won many more awards throughout 2019 and early 2020, including Best in Class at Greenwich Concours 2019, Concours of America 2019 and Amelia Island Concours 2020.