For the 1948 model year, GM designers Harley Earl and Frank Hershey struck gold with their new Cadillac line. Fresh, beautiful styling combined with a well-built chassis and robust, though dated L-head V8 engine. What set the car apart was a subtle design cue that led to one of the most iconic, heavily copied trends in motoring history – the tailfin. The inspiration for the small kicked-up fin at the end of each rear fender came from Lockheed’s P-38 Lightning, America’s finest heavy fighter plane during World War II. One of the most instantly recognizable aircraft in history, it was also one of the fastest and toughest aircraft of WWII, and the unmistakable twin-tail treatment earned it the nickname “fork-tailed devil” among Axis pilots unfortunate enough to encounter it. General Motors played a critical role in P-38 production, building a significant portion of the more than 10,000 units built throughout the war. Considering GM’s involvement, Harley Earl’s patriotic nod to the P-38 was more than superficial, and if anyone could lay claim to a tribute, it was them. Surprisingly, the tailfin was an overnight sensation, and car designers from Detroit to Deutschland jumped on the bandwagon, turning Harley Earl’s subtle design cue into one of the most widely copied and iconic design themes of all time.
Considering the overwhelmingly positive response to the 1948 models, Cadillac kept the revisions limited to a new grille and some design tweaks for 1949. The big news lay under the hood in the form of an all-new 331 cubic-inch, overhead-valve V8 engine. The new high-compression V8 transformed Cadillac into a performance leader, and the versatile 331 went on to power everything from limousines to Le Mans racers. With the new V8 as the centerpiece, the 1949 line included the base-model Series 61, Series 62, Series 60 Special (sedan only), and Series 75 (limousines, formal cars, and commercial chassis). The high-spec Series 62 had the broadest range of bodies, including a convertible coupe, four-door sedan, pillarless Coupe De Ville, and the gorgeous fastback two-door coupe, also known as the Sedanette. Just 4,764 of these visually arresting coupes were produced (versus nearly 24,000 sedans), and they stand among the most sought-after and collectible of all post-war Cadillacs.
This 1949 Cadillac is a highly desirable Series 62 Club Coupe, colloquially known as the "Sedanette", beautifully presented in its original shade of Dartmouth green over a dark brown leather interior. This lovely example boasts a well-documented chain of ownership going back to the 1950s and has never required a full restoration, thanks to regular maintenance and refurbishment work as needed through the years. Initially sold in Dallas, Texas, the first owner kept the car until 1957. He sold it to the second owners who cherished the Cadillac in their family for the next sixty years. While in their care, it made its way to the Pacific Northwest, receiving a high-quality respray in the original color, a partial retrim of the interior, and attentive service work along the way. Records and receipts document much of the work that kept this Cadillac looking and running its best. More recent attention includes extensive detailing of the engine bay and undercarriage, and the car now presents with a charming character, ideal for enjoyment on the road or in casual show settings. The Dartmouth Green paintwork is excellent, and the panels properly aligned. Some finish imperfections are noted under scrutiny, but the overall appearance is wonderfully attractive. Chrome and stainless brightwork are excellent all around, with a mix of original and beautifully restored pieces, including all of the correct Series 62 trim. Steel wheels wear superb “sombrero” wheel covers, and wide-whitewall Diamondback radials improve the all-round handling without sacrificing the period-correct appearance.
For the partial interior restoration, the previous owners selected gorgeous, antique-finish brown leather and period-style fabric inserts for the seats. The brown carpets were fitted in the late 80s and are in superb condition, while the door panels, seatbacks, and headlining are believed to be the originals. The painted steel dash subtly wraps around the cabin and features original instruments, winged Cadillac emblem, a factory radio, and period accessory tissue dispenser. Similarly, the original ivory wheel steering wheel is in excellent condition. With its warm, inviting ambiance, the Cadillac’s luxurious interior suits the sophisticated elegance of the body.
The original, numbers-matching 331 cubic-inch OHV V8 sits in a well-detailed engine bay. Factory-correct features include the oil bath air cleaner, early-style center-bolt valve covers, glass washer bottle, and Delco generator. Proper Cadillac blue engine paint is in excellent condition, as is the finish on the firewall and inner fenders. Details like the radiator tag and owner’s ID card holder on the hood shut panel are pleasing finishing touches to the presentation. Since the engine and undercarriage detail work, the car has seen light use, and it remains in superb order.
Nineteen forty-nine Cadillacs are some of the best driving and most elegant American cars of the era, and this outstanding example is no exception. It looks gorgeous, performs beautifully on the road, and is sure to satisfy its next long-term caretaker with years of motoring enjoyment.
Offers welcome and trades considered