It took another year to finish all the additional body mods, wire the car, install air conditioning, paint, upholster, and fit it all back together, but in July 2009 it was ready for its debut. Paul drove it 250 miles to Canada with no problems. The furthest it's been is a 2,200-mile roundtrip to the West Coast Kustoms Cruisin' Nationals this year-the first 14 hours from Washington in continuous rain! It seems all Paul's cars are drivers, and with another fine addition to his stable, we look forward to seeing what he lays his hands on next.

Rod & Custom Feature Car
Paul Harper
Roslyn, WAshington
1951 Cadillac Hardtop

Though the body was removed from the frame during the build, it still sits on the original chassis. The stock independent front suspension is retained, though it now uses '55 Caddy coilsprings with 1 1/2 inches of the coils removed, and dropped spindles by Buffalo Enterprises in Arlington, WA. These combine to provide a 2 1/2-inch total drop. Monroe tube-style shocks are used, and there's now a '60s Cadillac Saginaw power steering box in place of the sloppy original. Jamco provided 4-inch dropped rear springs to get the rearend down, and even the original gas tank was reused, though the gas filler now lives in the trunk.

The '68 500ci Cadillac motor that came in the purchase deal was rebuilt stock and installed in the '51, with the addition of a 600-cfm Edelbrock Performer carburetor on a same-make inlet, Speedway Motors air cleaner and valve covers, and ACCEL ignition. The stock exhaust manifolds are connected to a system incorporating Cherry Bomb mufflers, while "Weird Harold" in Yakima, WA, made up a custom brass and copper radiator 6 inches wider than stock. Paul rebuilt a TH400 trans, using a Speedway cable to connect to the column shifter. The stock 3.35:1 ratio rearend is still providing sterling service, along with the original drum brakes.

Wheels & Tires
Diamondback wide whitewall radials, 225/75R15 all around, were fitted to the original 15-inch Cadillac rims, along with their hubcaps. Just switching from the bias-plies that were originally used lowers the car by a couple of inches!

Body & Paint
In addition to the top chop, Paul filled the hood, removed the parking lights, deep-sixed the grille extensions and body emblems, frenched the headlights, shaved the handles, and welded the rear fenders and splash aprons to the body. The '49 Cad taillights were frenched into the little tailfins and the license plate frenched into the rear panel. The bumpers now comprise a '50 front and '52 rear, both filled, smoothed, and re-chromed, with the exhausts exiting through the rear. Paul painted the Cad himself in PPG Cyber Green metallic.

The dash was smoothed, the Vintage Air controls now living top center above the speaker grille. The stock instrument cluster was retained, though Paul added Stewart-Warner oil and volt gauges, replacing the idiot lights. Jamie's Upholstery in Yakima stitched the off-white with 1 1/2-inch green tuck 'n' roll insert upholstery over the stock seats and interior panels, and Paul installed the EZ Wiring harness. The seat belts came from Juliano's.