Glenn Miller - At Last!


1957, 1958 Cadillac

Cadillac's identity as an American automotive icon hit its stride for 1957 and 1958. These cars celebrated the good life with ever-more voluptuous styling and lurid chrome appointments, but backed that up with some genuine engineering creativity.

For '57, the division's 356-cubic-inch V-8 gained 15 horsepower in standard form, to 300, and increased by 20 in the Eldorado, to 325, mostly thanks to a compression bump to 10:1.

This engine powered a rebodied 1957 Cadillac lineup. The look was blockier but still evolutionary, inspired by the Cadillac Orleans, Eldorado Brougham, and Park Avenue show cars of 1954 and 1955.

Reaching into the luxury stratosphere was a production 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, priced at a princely $13,074. One of the most-interesting Cadillacs of the 1950s, this low-slung pillarless sedan on a "compact" 126-inch wheelbase featured center-opening doors and a roof capped in brushed stainless steel, the latter one of Harley Earl's favorite touches. Standard quad headlights were an industry first shared with that year's Nash.

A brushed stainless-steel roof and center-opening doors
were just two enticing features of the ultra-luxury
1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham.

The Brougham's most-intriguing mechanical feature was air suspension, the work of engineers Lester Milliken and Fred Cowin. Based on systems used for commercial vehicles since 1952, this employed an air "spring" at each wheel and was comprised of a domed air chamber, rubber diaphragm, and pistons. Fed by a central air compressor, the domes continually adjusted for load and road conditions (via valves and solenoids) for a smooth, level ride.

Cadillac's system differed from "air ride" options at other GM divisions in being "open" (taking in air from outside) rather than "closed." Unhappily, cost and complexity were high relative to benefits. The air domes leaked, and replacements were frequent, leading many owners to junk the system in favor of conventional coil springs. Cadillac and GM abandoned air suspension after 1960.

The 1958 Cadillac Series 62 hardtop featured
an extended rear deck.

Back to the volume Cadillacs, which were heavily facelifted for 1958 in a manner typical of GM that model year. The most-garish Caddys yet, they dripped with chrome and were far less stylish than recent models. Sales were poor, though a nationwide recession was probably more to blame than the styling, which was, after all, in vogue. At 121,778 units, 1958 model-year production was the lowest since 1954. Horsepower ratings, however, continued climbing. The 365 V-8 was coaxed to 310 horsepower on all but the Eldorado, where it made 335.

Forecasting the future, the 1958 Cadillac De Ville became a 62 subseries, and pillared sedans were eliminated. The 62 line also gained a hardtop sedan with extended rear deck.

All 1958 Cadillac models were available with cruise control, high-pressure cooling system, two-speaker signal-seeking radio, and automatic parking brake release. A special show Eldorado introduced a "thinking" convertible top that raised itself and the side windows when a sensor detected raindrops; this gimmick allegedly saw limited production, though probably far less than even air suspension did.

An evocative redesign was on tap for Cadillac's next model year. We'll examine the immortal 1959 Cadillac next.



1954, 1955, 1956 Cadillac

Cadillac for 1954 introduced longer, lower, and wider cars with more power and an all-new General Motors "C-body" bearing the trendy wrapped windshield.

Wheelbase lengthened to 129 inches on Cadillac Series 62 models, and to 149.8 inches on Series 75s. The Cadillac V-8 was boosted to 230 horsepower, and power steering and windshield washers became standard linewide. A four-way power front seat was a new option.

Sales of the popular Eldorado climbed during the 1950s.
The 1954 Cadillac Eldorado convertible is shown here.

The 1954 Cadillac Eldorado returned with standard gold-color trim and genuine wire wheels, but was much more like the standard Series 62 ragtop and thus far cheaper than the 1953 Eldorado, at $4,738. Predictably, Cadillac Eldorado sales rose to 2,150 for the model year. That improved to 3,950 for '55, then rose 65 percent for '56, when Eldorados doubled to include a hardtop coupe, surnamed Seville, with the same $6,556 base price as the convertible, which was renamed the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.

Eldorado became more distinctive again after 1954, sprouting pointy "shark" fins above round taillights. Other 1954 Cadillac models retained the small taillight-and-fin motif from prior years.

Cadillac's basic 1954 styling persisted through effective, evolutionary facelifts for 1955 and 1956. The latter year brought the division's first four-door hardtop, predictably dubbed Sedan de Ville, which immediately scored almost as many sales as the Coupe de Ville and standard Series 62 hardtop combined.

The 1956 Cadillac Sedan de Ville was the
luxury carmaker's first four-door hardtop.

Cadillac sales continued nowhere but up, reaching 140,777 for 1955, a banner year for all Detroit. But even that was a temporary plateau. Despite challenges from an all-new 1956 Lincoln and revitalized 1957 Imperial, Cadillac remained America's luxury sales leader by far. Combined Lincoln/Imperial volume never exceeded 40,000 cars a year in this era; at Cadillac, that was good output for a calendar quarter.

Horsepower seemed to climb right along with sales. For 1955 it reached 250 in standard tune via higher compression and improved manifolding. The 1955 Cadillac Eldorado boasted 270 horsepower, courtesy of dual four-barrel carburetors that were optional for other models. For 1956, the milestone V-8 received the first of several enlargements, being bored out to 365 cubic inches, good for 305 horsepower in Eldorados, 285 in other models.

Horsepower would continue to climb, along with the elevation of those tailfins, as Cadillac was poised to enter a period in which it would cement itself as a symbol of the American Century.

The 1957 and 1958 Cadillac models were flamboyant -- even garish to some -- yet creatively engineered.



1950, 1951, 1952, 1953 Cadillac

Cadillac began the 1950s with carefully considered updates to its basic 1948 design, which was good enough to remain popular through 1953. As General Motors designer Mitchell once noted: "A traditional look is always preserved. If a grille is changed, the tail end is left alone; if a fin is changed, the grille is not monkeyed with."

And so it was: a new one-piece windshield and revamped grille for 1950, small auxiliary grilles beneath the headlamps for 1951, a winged badge in that spot for 1952, one-piece rear windows and suggestive "Dagmar" pointed front bumper guards for 1953. Equally wise, Cadillac gave up on fastbacks much earlier than sister GM makes, switching all of its 1950 coupes to notchback profiles with hardtop rooflines a la Coupe de Ville.

The Series 61 Cadillac was discontinued after 1951.
Shown here is a 1950 Cadillac Series 61 hardtop.

Models also didn't change much through 1953. Still accounting for most sales, the Series 62 offered a four-door sedan, convertible, Coupe de Ville, and a less-deluxe hardtop coupe, all on the usual 126-inch wheelbase.

The Cadillac Sixty Special remained a solitary super-luxury four-door on its own wheelbase, which was now 130 inches versus 133 for 1942-1948. The Series 75 still listed its customary array of limousines and long-wheelbase sedans on a 146.8-inch chassis. Cadillac also continued supplying chassis for various coachbuilders, averaging about 2,000 a year through 1959.

The "entry-level" Series 61 was still around in 1950, but its sedan and De Ville-inspired coupe were demoted to a 122-inch wheelbase (from 126 in the 1940s). Manual transmission remained standard here (and on 75s), but other Caddys now came with Hydra-Matic at no extra cost.

The Series 61 models still lacked chrome rocker moldings and had plainer interiors, but also lower prices (by about $575). But with record 1950 sales of 100,000-plus, Cadillac no longer needed a "price leader," so the Series 61 was cancelled after 1951, this time for good.

Cadillac produced a limited number of the flashy
1953 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

After observing its Golden Anniversary with a little-changed fleet for 1952, Cadillac issued a flashy limited-edition convertible, the 1953 Series 62 Eldorado. Like that year's new Buick Skylark and Olds 98 Fiesta, it boasted features previewed on recent GM Motorama show cars: custom interior, special cut-down "Panoramic" wraparound windshield, a sporty "notched" beltline (below the side windows), and a metal lid instead of a canvas boot to cover the lowered top. A striking piece, the Eldorado was a preview of Cadillacs to come, but only 532 of the '53s were built, largely because the price was a towering $7,750.

Cadillac sales -- and horsepower -- continued to climb from 1954 to 1956.



Post Happy Memorial Day!

I understand Memorial Day was yesterday, but I ran into this great tribute video commemorating this awesome day, I had to post it for everyone to see.

Just Remember; anytime you see any of our Veterans, please tell them 'Thanks!', they deserve it.

I love my Freedoms!

Steel Arena - 1973 - Demolition Derby

How does this make you feel watching this? For me... it hurts. :)


Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day.

As I am a Military Veteran, serving previously in the United States Navy, I wanted to personally thank all the Military Veterans who are serving, served and have passed. Thank you for your life's sacrifice so that we can endure the freedoms we live in each day.

I SALUTE you all!

A Tribute to all of our Hero's! You are all the BEST!

As a tribute, Here is a neat video of the Arlington National Cemetary, Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Barris Customs - George and Sam Barris

George was born in Chicago in the mid twenties. In 1928, he and his older brother Sam moved to Roseville, California with relatives after their parents died. They both were excellent students especially in drama, music and drawing. George pursued a passion for building scratch-built aircraft models which led to model cars. He won competitions for construction and design.

The family gave the brothers a 1925 Buick in need of repair for the work they did at their restaurant.

This Buick became the first "Barris Brothers" custom car. The old Buick needed much attention and their creative urges to make it different took hold. They straightened the body and added bolt-on accessories before George hand painted the car in orange with blue stripes. It was promptly sold to purchase a 1929 Model A.

The brothers interest in cars intensified during their teenage years as they discovered "the black art" of body work by hanging out after school at local bodyshops, including Brown's and Bertolucci's in Sacramento. George created his first full custom from a used 1936 Ford convertible before he graduated from High School. This automobile lead to their first commercial customer. Shortly after George formed a club called Kustoms Car Club where the first use of "K" for kustoms appeared.

After Sam entered WW ll, George moved to Los Angeles where his talents began to flourish. He soon opened his first shop in Bell, a Los Angeles suburb in late 1944. Sam joined him after his discharge in 1945. They opened a new shop on Compton Ave. in Los Angeles. The shop was known as the "Barris Brother's Custom Shop". Sam's natural metal craftmanship served as a perfect foil to George's desire to design, paint, manage, and promote.

George began to race at Saugus Speedway around 1947. But this hobby was short lived as the business expanded and took up all his spare time. Other forces began to take place, the first Hot Rod Show produced by Robert 'Pete' Petersen founder of Hot Rod magazine. The Barris brothers were asked to exhibit the only custom car in the show. The reaction was very positive.

Modern automotive magazines were being published which provided coverage of the custom car business. George began photographing autos professionally and writing for the magazines. He was able to promote his business by demonstrating their techniques through how-to articles.

The Barris brothers outgrew their shop on Compton and moved to a larger shop in Lynwood where the famous Hirohata Merc was born. Sam bought a new two-door Mercury and knew it would make a great custom. He figured it out all in his head and began cutting it up and reformed the car. Bob Hirohata admired Sam's style and brought in his '51 Merc for a full custom job. Sam finished his car so it could be shown at the 1952 Motorama. It turned out to be the sensation of the show.

George formed "Kustoms of Los Angeles," which was initially restricted to Barris customers and later became "Kustoms of America." The group grew out of weekend custom runs which George help put together. Kustoms of America is still a major club today that has a major cruise in Paso Robles.



Dropping an A-Axle

I found this video showing the concept of dropping straight axles. Im not sure if I approve of the process; speaking more on a safety level. It does give you an idea of the concept.

What do you think?


1955 Chevy - The "Aztec"

The "Aztec", owned by Bill Car in the 50's. It started as a 1955 Chevrolet Convertible; which was to be a mild custom. Guess he was wrong. One of the greatest and most radical customs created during the mid to late 50's. With the talents of George and Sam Barris; thier creations 'wrote the book' on how to build customs. The same "rules" being followed today. It's my opinion, that it was the eye of Sam Barris that made it happen.

How it started:

Photos by Rickster

1941 Ford "Rudy" Truck Project

Here are more updates on the 1941 Ford "Rudy" Truck project that were working on. The bed sides are getting massaged and most of the supports are being replaced.

Chuck DeWitts 1950 Ford Vert!

Here's a small taste for next week. Im going to share some photos of some of the greatest customs that have come out of the 40's and 50's.

To all my readers, I hope you stay tuned!!!!


Model B Camshaft

Here we have a Model B Camshaft. The bearing surfaces measure roughly 1.555" - 1.560" diameter. All surfaces were polished. The black marks on the lobes are stains in the metal. This cam was chucked into a lathe and cleaned up with steel wool and lubricants.

To Live and Drive in the 20's

Ah, to live in the 20's. Here is a great video of the Twenties. There are some great filmshots of some probably extinct 'buses'. A long roadster with a fold back top. Heh, its even snowing outside and there people are just happy to get a ride. Simply Amazing. Could you imagine if it happened this way today? Also featured is a small section "The Motor Car Designed for the Women". A neat little car with a 'boattail' rear section! I wonder if this was influenced by the racers of the time? There's more amazing shots in this video. Let me know what you like about it?

How's about a drive in New York in 1928? Talk about different. Its amazing, without all the strict rules we have to follow, that these folks even got around.

This is great. Check out Babe Ruth! Importantly, check out the cars in the video. There are so many different types.


1941 "Rudy" Truck Project Update!

Check out the pictures of our most recent update on the 1941 "Rudy" Truck project. The cab is in 2 coats of primer, Blocking and sanding to begin. Stay tuned for more to come.