Cadillac Unshacked: Restoration of this 1950 Coupe de Ville is underway

A friend writes, “An antidote to the stomach-turning electric fad is the restoration of a ’50 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville, which is well underway here. A happy thing indeed, it is. I am close to ordering a new interior.”

Ronald: “You have a 1950 Cadillac?”

“Dad does and we are fixing it up. I am on the prowl for chrome parts.”

My friend’s teenage son is leading the restoration effort with his grandfather.

“It has some suspension issues–and the hubs were rusted to the drums. Removing them didn’t go well and parts don’t exist, so we are doing some substitution.”

Didn’t go well? Hmm, I envision the young mechanic slamming away with a two-pound hammer and a chisel.

“The headliner is perfect,” my friend says, “so that’s something.”

Model-year 1950 introduced a one-piece windshield to Cadillac and this pillarless hardtop-coupe body. Hydra-Matic transmission was standard, as were hydraulically operated power windows. Chrome bows in the headliner were meant to simulate a convertible’s ribs.

“The famous, aircraft-inspired tail fin look debuted on selected 1948 models and, from then on, Cadillac became the style innovator in the high-priced field,” John Gunnell writes in Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975.

Of course, in 1949, the new overhead-valve 331-cubic-inch V-8 had been introduced. It churned out 160 hp at 3,800 rpm. The one-millionth Cadillac of all time was assembled in November of that year.

Priced at $3,523, the Coupe de Ville was about 12 percent more expensive than the club coupe.

“Cars in the Cadillac next-step-up line were identified by slightly richer interior appointments and by chrome underscores running the full length of the body at the bottom,” Gunnell continues.

The simulated air-vent rear fender-line treatment–“ventipanes”–was new.

My source shows Cadillac setting an all-time production record in 1950, reaching 99,958 cars and 2,052 of the Series 75 Fleetwood commercial chassis. Series 62 cars rode on a 126.0-inch wheelbase and extended to 215.88 inches in length. (Series 61 models rode on a 122.0-inch wheelbase.)

Featuring a 157-inch wheelbase, the Series 75 Fleetwood chassis were sent off to specialty coachbuilders like Meteor Motor Car Co., of Piqua, Ohio, and used for funeral cars, limousines, and ambulances.

Series 62 models accounted for 59,818 (and one commercial chassis) of the 1950 total.

Briggs Cunningham’s Le Monstre and the 1950 Cadillac coupe that raced at Le Mans were displayed Aug. 21, 2022 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Photo by Tim McGrane of M1 Concourse.

As another point about Cadillac’s versatility, it’s worth remembering the efforts of Briggs Cunningham in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The great sportsman entered two Cadillacs in the 1950 version of the endurance race. One had an aerodynamic body and was called Le Monstre: it finished 11th. Sam and Miles Collier hustled their coupe to 10th place–not bad considering the engine and suspension were showroom-stock.

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