Rod & Custom Feature Car
1941 Cadillac convertible
There's something about a car displayed in bare metal that draws us in like moths to a flame. Being able to see the bodywork and modifications prior to covering them with paint is a rare treat. So when we saw this 1941 Cadillac in Pinkee's booth at the Grand National Roadster Show this past January, we knew we wanted to share it with you, despite it being far from finished.
The Cad is owned by Tom Kowalski, who had previously worked with Eric Peratt and his crew at Pinkee's Rod Shop in Colorado and liked their ideas and build style. His vision for what started as an all-original 1941 Cadillac convertible was to create a car that could have been displayed at the 1939 World's Fair, a vision of the 1941 model to come, if you will.
That World's Fair was the first to look to the future, using the slogan "Dawn of a New Day," allowing visitors to take a look at the world of tomorrow. Television was introduced for the first time, with 200 sets with 5-inch tubes throughout the New York area, televising Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech and the opening ceremony. You have to remember this was a time when electricity had not yet reached all parts of the United States, so TV was definitely futuristic.
The Transportation Zone pavilions attracted much attention, with Ford, GM, and Chrysler all displaying cars. La Salle exhibited its entire lineup, Pontiac built a Deluxe Six with a Plexiglas body, and it's easy to imagine this Cadillac right there amongst them.
However, though the exterior may look like a 1938 vision of a 1941 model, the underpinnings are anything but. Peek underneath this metal masterpiece and you'll be met with a brand-new 1-inch stretched wheelbase Art Morrison Enterprises chassis, formed from mandrel-bent 2x4-inch steel to suit this application. There's a C6 Vette IFS and Strange coilovers up front, while hiding behind the fender skirts is a 9-inch Ford rearend hung on a parallel four-bar setup with Ride Tech coilovers. An LS from an 2000 Camaro backed by a T56 six-speed lies under the pie-cut hood.
Which brings us neatly to the pièce de résistance: all that massaged metalwork. The windshield surround is obviously chopped, but the lengthened front fenders may have escaped your scrutiny, despite the frenched headlights. All the seams have been filled, essentially creating a one-piece body, while the fender skirts flow beautifully with the surrounding sheetmetal. More impressive than the exterior, though, is the fabrication in the floor and rear wheelhouses. Spend some time studying the pictures and you'll see what we mean. The entire floor and tunnel is handmade, custom fit to the AME frame beneath.
The work doesn't end there though, as the grille was custom CNC-machined to suit the car. Don't recognize the bumpers? Not surprising, as they were carved from modeling foam, then covered with fiberglass resin, before being used as bucks to cast the finished versions from aluminum. They were then machined prior to being copper plated by Sherm's Custom Plating in preparation for the chrome to come.
There's not a whole lot to see inside the Cad yet, though suffice it to say the dash is a complete one-off, the centerpiece being a gauge insert in a coach-built style. You'll have to ask Tom or Eric why it has two speedometers though! The dash aside, there's an ididit column and a Kugel Komponents pedal assembly, and a lot of neat metalwork so far. An 18-gallon aluminum fuel tank is recessed in the trunk floor. We don't have any paint or interior details, but you can bet we're looking forward to seeing this particular Cadillac rolling down the road on its Coker wide whites. It's one today's vision of yesterday's tomorrow we want to see in the near future. Or something!