One of the original objectives of car customizing was to make inexpensive vehicles look more like upscale models. So what's a custom enthusiast to do when he bases his project on the so-called Standard of the World-a Cadillac? If you're retired bodyman Ed Britz, you mix and match various elements of the marque to craft a body configuration that Cadillac never made in the '40s or '50s-a two-seat, roadster-style convertible.
"As a young boy growing up in Pennsylvania, I was always attracted to the Caddys," Ed tells us. "I've had many of them over the years. There are some things that I like on some years of Caddys that I don't particularly care for on other years. So, I decided to take parts from different cars and build a car that suited me.
"I found this '49 Caddy in Round Up magazine for a very cheap price of $2,700," Ed continues. "It was located in North Carolina; I bought it sight unseen. When I went to get it, I realized why it was so cheap. It was so bad that the only things I used were the doors, the convertible hardware, windshield frame, and door lock pillars. All other sheetmetal came from parts I located all over the country, including a couple parts cars.
"I don't care for the long roof and short deck on the '49, so I used a longer deck from a '52 Caddy coupe and moved it ahead 5 inches to use up some of the rear seat area. Now the roof is 17 inches shorter than stock. The folding electric convertible top is from a '67 GTO, which I chopped 3 inches. I laid the windshield back, cut out the cowl panel, and made hidden wipers."
That was just the beginning of the cutting, splicing, and rearranging Ed had planned for his two-place Cad. He sectioned the body 2 inches through the hood and upper doors, and then installed a '48 Cad grille between recessed headlights with '47 Ford headlight bezels and flat lenses. The stock front bumper was narrowed and its guards cut down, while the cut-down rear bumper was borrowed from a '55 Cadillac and augmented with more cut-down '49 bumper guards to serve as a license surround. Portions of two '52 Cad fenders-including the taillights-were spliced into the original rear pontoons. "I like the '51-53 taillights better, as the fin area is more streamlined," Ed explains. "The later taillights also have backup lights built in them."
Is that it? Not quite. "The most challenging part of this buildup was the parade boot" for the top, Ed tells us. "I made it from sheetmetal. It is electrically operated. I used two sets of seat tracks and welded them together. It rolls ahead 14 inches-enough to let the top down-then rolls back."
Covered in PPG Scarlet Red paint applied by Ed, the highly modified body was channeled over a lengthened and Z'd '85 Cadillac Coupe de Ville frame and floor pan. The chassis was further augmented with Air Ride Technologies air springs and Michelin-wrapped, 15-inch Colorado Custom wheels.
What better to power such a sizeable 'sled than 500 inches of torque-happy Cadillac V-8? Evanuik Performance rebuilt the '70-vintage mill and added a Pertronix distributor and Sanderson headers, and then Ed built a custom engine cover to keep the underhood area looking tidy. Power was then channeled through a TH400 automatic with a Gear Vendors overdrive unit. "It makes driving a pleasure," Ed reports. "The fuel economy is great, especially on those long trips."
To soak up those miles in comfort, Ed equipped the interior with '98 Eldorado seats, which Dave Crissey wrapped in tan leather. The '49 Buick Roadmaster dash was fitted with Classic Instruments dials and an '85 Cad tilt and telescoping column topped with a LeCarra wheel. Ed built the console himself, fitting it with a Delco stereo and Chevy Cavalier shifter. He also made sure to add all the amenities befitting a Cadillac-Vintage Air, Specialty Power Windows, and cruise control from Ron Francis.
By using almost exclusively Cadillac parts, Ed succeeded in maintaining his custom's rich brand identity while still crafting a truly original creation. We think it looks like a modern take on a classic GM Motorama concept car. The end result is not only cool, comfortable, and stylish, it's also one of the longest two-seaters we've ever seen!