The wheels are from the Wheelsmith,...
The wheels are from the Wheelsmith, as are the Sombrero hubcaps that fit perfectly in the fender opening.
Having your brand name become synonymous with quality is every company's dream. Cadillac is one company that achieved this goal. The very name Cadillac evokes images of quality, luxury, power, and style. While it may be more difficult to establish dominance in the luxury market today, in post World War II America, Cadillac was the badge of quality and prestige, a car that announced your personal success.
Tommy Carver is a Cadillac man, a guy who reveres the quality, style, and luxury of these great American motorcars. His current garage houses no less than three of these fine automobiles; a '41 Cadillac coupe, a '48 Cadillac convertible, and the gorgeous '49 Cadillac that graces these pages, and there's not a stocker in the bunch, and yet each car displays a healthy respect for the original design.
Big '56 Caddy Dagmars were...
Big '56 Caddy Dagmars were mated to portions of the original '49 front bumpers to make a real Cadillac statement. The grille work is a combination of Larry Shoaf's creation and a '49 Caddy. The fenders are extended with '55 Chevy brows while inverted '55 Chevy turn signals look right at home on the car.
When Tommy purchased this '49 Cadillac it was an older restoration brought in from the West Coast to North Carolina. Tommy had a pretty good idea of what he wanted his car to look like, and he understood it would take major surgery. He wanted the car chopped and modified to enhance the lines of the Cadillac. Tommy knew chopping a fastback Cadillac would require a master metalworker, and so the car was brought to Rodcrafters in Welcome, North Carolina, where Larry Shoaf took on the challenge of chopping and modifying virtually every panel on the car. The best part of the modification is that there are many and it takes a trained eye to spot most of them. Rather than look "cut up," the Cadillac now resembles what a Cadillac ad agency illustration from the late-'40s may have looked like-lower, sleeker, and more powerful appearing than the original. Ad agencies accomplished this feat with the stroke of a pen; Larry Shoaf did it the hard way, by deftly cutting this Cadillac and then blending a great combination of vintage Cadillac parts to produce a car that is simply stunning.
Chuck Hanna did his usual...
Chuck Hanna did his usual fine job of creating an interior that is stunning and functional in every way. Crocodile inserts on leather seats blend well with the blond burly maple wood inserts. The ivory wheel is a stock '49 unit cut down and refinished by Quality Restorations.
After taking the original driveline out of the car, the team at Rodcrafters installed a front frameclip from Fatman Fabrications. This gave the Caddy new Mustang II-style front suspension while out back a 9-inch Ford rear holds 3.08 gears and is located with a Fatman Fabrications four-link arrangement with adjustable ride height made possible by RideTech. Under the hood Tommy opted to keep things pure so 425 ci of '78 Caddy V-8 power slipped into place. The rebuilt motor now produces 405 hp and the TH400 transmission handles the gear changes.
While the chassis and powertrain are impressive, it is the body that makes this car stand out in a crowd. Shoaf put one of the finest chops we've ever seen on a fastback-style car. The chop involved cutting the windshield 1-1/2 inches, a measurement inspired by a pair of '50 Chevy windshields sitting on the shelf and with an eye toward an improved profile rather than a radical styling statement. Working back from there Shoaf laid the A-pillars back, canted the B-pillars forward, and then lowered the rear of the roof a whopping 4 inches, completely sectioning the trunk and portions of the inner quarter-panels in the process. The amount of metalwork required was amazing but the result is a Cadillac with a better stock profile, a tribute to the skillful top chop. From the side, the roof flows perfectly and a reshaped quarter-window appears to be original to all but the most astute Cadillac lovers.
Another subtle yet effective modification is the 3-inch extension of the entire bottom of the car. This was done to hide the framerails that were visible in stock form. The side view of the Cadillac exudes speed and power and the car appears lower because the rocker panels have been extended down and nicely flared from the rear of the front fender. The rear skirts may look original, but they too were fabricated at Rodcrafters. We were lucky enough to see this car in bare metal and the fabrication work was amazing.
At first glance the tailfins...
At first glance the tailfins may look taller than stock, but that is not the case. Rather, the rear bumper has been lowered 3 inches, resulting in additional metal being added under the taillight. It's a great illusion.
Of course extending the rockers to hide the framerails included wheeling new lower quarter-panel blisters and lowering the rear bumper 3 inches. The lowered bumper required custom panels under the taillights and decklid, which provided room for the license plate above the bumper. All these modifications, and yet the car still looks very much like a '49 Cadillac.
Up front a mix of '55 Cadillac Dagmars and '49 bumper parts were joined and now reside on either side of a Shoaf-fabricated grille bar and lower pan. The rather flat-appearing stock headlights were replaced with '55 Chevy fender brows with inverted '55 parking lights under each headlight. The hood seam was filled before the hood was sectioned for a lower profile. In bare metal it was apparent this was going to be a very graceful car, a car that deserved to be black.
Tommy took the car to Reflection Body Shop for the mile-deep black paintjob before the car went to the upholstery shop. The Classic Instrument gauges, Vintage Air, and power windows were installed at Rodcrafters prior to Chuck Hanna working his magic at Hot Rod Interiors by Chuck, in Mooresville, North Carolina. Hanna mixed Camel leather with Butter Cup crocodile inserts that blend perfectly with the blond wood inserts. Light Palomino carpet completes the upholstery on the car. The steering column is from ididit and the gorgeous ivory steering wheel is the stock '49 unit cut down and refinished by Quality Restorations in Poway, California.
A project of this magnitude takes time, talent, and funding, but in the end Tommy Carver had just what he was looking for; a sleek, black Cadillac that embodies the unsurpassed quality that makes the brand so famous. In keeping with the Cadillac tradition, the power is smooth underfoot and the coachwork is both graceful and timeless; all the work was performed by the finest craftsmen. You might say Tommy Carver's car is the Cadillac of customs.