June 28, 2013


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Written by: Rik Hoving
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Recently three photos where found of a very nicely styled 1941 Cadillac convertible custom car. These very interesting photos show a car that is a wonderful stylish example. A merge between classic car coach building and early style customizing.

Unfortunately these photos came with no additional information about its owner, builder, photographer or place. The only thing I could identify about these photos, was that they were taken somewhere in California in 1945 or 1946.


The unknown photographer must have not been very skilled at taking photos. He knew that the car he saw was something special, but the way he cropped the car, the fact that the horizon is not level and the subject is slightly out of focus indicate these were not taken by a professional photographer back in the mid 1940’s.

Before 1956 US license plates were all different and can be used as identification. But since the license plate is partly covered by its surrounding metal on the trunk, I could not identify it 100%. More than likely it is a 1946 plate. Possibly this classic car was already restyled shortly after it was bought new from the dealer.


This 1941 Cadillac is a good sample of some Coachbuilding influences. The Coachbuilding styles and techniques were copied by the young guys who started to modify their cheaper model cars in the late 1930’s and 40’s and this phenomenon would eventually be known as Customizing. The style of modifications done to this Cadillac reminds me of the Coachbuilt cars by the Coachcraft shop. Or the designs and work done by famous coachbuilders Bohman & Schwartz. The car features a chopped windshield and a very nicely shaped padded top.

This padded top is unlike most we know coming from Carson, Hall, Chavez or a few others, not covered with white canvas. But rather with a dark almost leatherette kind of material. Something similar to what was used by the Coachbuilders to cover metal tops on sedans or coupes for a more exclusive look. But clearly the top on this Cadillac is a lift off unit. It could also be possible that a dark canvas was used which was covered with a special coating to make it look like leather. An other technique sometimes used on coachbuilt cars. The rear fenders were modeled to the body, a typical Custom touch, and at first glance it looks like there are no taillights. The stock units were removed along with the fender trim. Below the bumper a set of hidden taillights are just visible.

Even the chrome outboard trunk hinges were replaced by inboard units to further clean up the rear of the car. The door handles were shaved as well as the hood side trim and the front fender trim. The rubber rock shield on the rear fender made place for a more in style polished stainless accessory unit. At the front the parking lights and hood letter were removed and the body smoothed. New parking/fog lights were added to the front bumper.
All typical Custom touches. The car was lowered, but just a little bit, and is using the stock 1941 Cadillac hubcaps, which is again typical Coachbuilding style. These three photos taken just after WWII show wonderful mix of styles on this classic looking 1941 Cadillac Convertible.


The back of this 1941 Cadillac is extremely clean. A lot of efforts were taken to get the desired look. The taillights were removed and custom taillight units mounted below the bumper just outside of the bumper guards. The rear fenders were molded to the main body. The trunk lid was shaved of the trim, handles and hinges and received a set in license plate. This all leads to an ultra smooth wonderfully shaped rear. The photo shows the mid 1940’s gas station and streets of an unknown California place. Wonder what happened to this stylish Cadillac Custom.

Update July 5, 2013.
Wayne Hadfield identified the location two, or possibly all these photos were taken. Using Google street view he identified the location as 2592 Telegraph Road, Berkeley, CA. Thanks Wayne.

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About the Author

Profile photo of Rik Hoving
Rik Hoving
Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)



  1. Profile photo of Tony Miller

    Good looking car, and completely unfamiliar to me too. It would be great to learn more of its history.

  2. Profile photo of Keith Brown

    Beautiful. Let’s hope some more history on this car pops up in the future…

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