If you're into categories, compartments, and labels, this '49 Cadillac Sedanette is going to make your head hurt. If you take a close look at these photos and keep reading this article, it's going to become obvious right away that this spectacular car challenges quick and easy descriptions and defies all of the standard custom classifications.
Let's go down the list. Traditional custom: not so much. Mild custom: The high-tech engine compartment eliminates that pretty fast. High-tech: The virtually unmodified body and nostalgia-influenced interior don't fit in that category.
If you have to call it something, call it a concept. The car was built by Rob Ida Concepts in organville, New Jersey.Shop owner Rob Ida has been building magazine-quality cars since before he was old enough to drive-not surprising if you know that his father, Bob Ida, has been building cars for 50 years and has been involved in practically every corner of the high-performance hobby.
Fred digiovanni is the owner of the Cadillac. He started the hunt for a '49 Sedanette two years ago. This car turned up in Florida as a welldone restoration with only 25,000 original miles on it.
Fred is a longtime Cadillac aficionado who did not want radical modifications made to the body. When he delivered the car to Morganville, he and Rob agreed that Harley earl's classic styling should be respected, right down to every piece of the intact factory chrome trim. and, since the original body lines were also being left intact, they chose a paint scheme that would show them off. The two-tone finish is not only elegant in its own right, it also follows the car's natural lines and makes the whole thing look even lower, longer, and sleeker. of course, the effect wouldn't have worked without the dropped stance provided by an upgraded independent front suspension and four-corner airbags.
The concept doesn't stop on the outside. Instead of disguising the interior as a brand-new luxury car, Fred wanted to honor the car's heritage by following the style of a 60-year-old luxury car. Original items, such as the power windows and speedometer, were kept wherever possible but upgraded with modern technology. It looks old and works new. Where aftermarket items were necessary, they were chosen for the right retro styling.
Just when you think you've got the Caddy categorized, Rob surprises you with an engine compartment full of extensive sheetmetal fabrication and a high-performance Cadillac CTS-V engine (basically Cadillac's version of the Corvette LS6). Rob said he and Fred considered something more traditional to match the style of the car but chose something more contemporary to match Fred's plans for driving the car.
Driving the car?! There goes another snap judgment out the window. We expected to hear the Cadillac was destined for a pampered life of car-show celebrity. uh-uh, says Rob. Fred has a lot of miles to put on his low-mileage custom and intends to keep it on the street as much as he can. How's that for a concept?
Rod & Custom Feature Car
Marlboro, New Jersey
1949 Cadillac Sedanette
The original chassis' ride quality and height were improved with a Mustang II-style IFS from Fatman Fabrications, along with an airbag suspension from air Ride Technologies. Flaming River provided the steering components, including the rack-andpinion cradle kit, universal joints and shafts, and the tilt steering column. Rob Ida Concepts installed a Wilwood brakes system, with single caliper discs and 11-inch rotors in the front. The brake lines were upgraded to stainless steel, and the fuel tank is a stainless steel unit from Rock Valley.
Builder Rob and owner Fred talked about powering the retro-influenced Cadillac with a similarly flavored engine; in the end, they concluded that what they really wanted was the 400hp V-8 that powers Cadillac's muscular CTS-V sedan. The choice is cool in its own way, and even though Cadillac borrowed the engine from the Corvette, it's a Cadillac in a Cadillac-so it matches the marque if not the period. The custombuilt air intake was painted to match the roof and hood. The rest of the drivetrain is Chevy stuff. The Rod 4L60e electronic automatic is designed to mate with the engine. The rearend is a 10-bolt from a '90s-era Chevy Caprice. The custom stainless exhaust was built at Rod Ida Concepts, and RIC dressed up the engine compartment with a smoothed firewall and custom fabricated inner fender panels, plus a shell for the Custom auto Radiator radiator.
Wheels & Tires
The wheel and tire combination pretty much picked itself. The p235/75R15 radials with 3-inch whitewalls from Coker are matched up with 15-inch '56 Cadillac wire wheels.
Body & Paint
Rob told us the only body mod made to the Cadillac was filling in the antenna hole, and he's not exaggerating much. The raw material for the project was a restoration project requiring only minor repairs. Rather than removing the chrome trim, in traditional custom style, Rob and Fred felt the brightwork added so much to the design of the car and was in such good shape that it had to stay; Rob also told us '49 Cadillac trim was designed to reflect at eye level-instead of the pavement or the sky-which influenced their decision. all the original chrome was straightened, polished, rechromed, and refitted to the Sedanette. Custom styling is acknowledged in the '50s-era spotlight mirror (originally a dealer-installed option), the visor, and the Stainless Specialties rectangular exhaust tips in the rear. The two-tone paint scheme, designed to visually extend the body lines, is a custom combination of Birch Beer and Champagne, split by a stripe of engine-turned gold leaf.
The dash cluster looks factory, but the gauges were sent to united Speedometer for electronic internals. The mechanical speedometer was set up to run off the electronic transmission through the use of a pulse motor that drives the speedo cable. The original power window controls were retained, but converted from hydraulics to electronics (similarly, the windshield wipers were converted from a vacuum-operated system to electronics). The dashboard speaker grille functions as vents for the Hot Rod air climate-control system. The original radio was retained for appearance purposes, but a Custom autosound Secretaudio head unit and remote six-disc Cd changer, with an arc audio amp and ultra Tech speakers and subwoofers, provides the music. Rp Custom Interiors covered the original front and rear seats in ultraleather and ultrasuede, and laid the german square weave carpet. More roof-colored paint was used on the dash and door panels (complemented by hand-painted woodgrain), and on the LeCarra Mark 10 steering wheel.