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CADZILLA The Craig Naff files

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    Rik Hoving

    In the late 1980’s there was one car that rocked the automotive world pretty hard. A customized 1948 Cadillac created at Hot Rods by Boyds that set new standards, and I think helped the growth of customizing. The cars design merged traditional custom styling, with Hot Rod and modern car Design Study styling in to one super slick style of Custom we had never seen before. It all came from the creative mind of designer Larry Erickson who designed the car for ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Metal Craftsman Craig Naff did most of the body (and more) construction on the car. Craig recently shared his personal photo album of the build on his facebook…. A wonderful look in this trend setting Custom.

    All words by Craig Naff…


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-01This is a full scale line drawing of a stock 1948 Cadillac sedanet. Larry Erickson used this drawing to hide his concept for its reveal.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-02
    This is Larry and Billy Gibbons before the reveal


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-03This is Larry’s full size concept of Cadzilla


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-04This is the cast of characters who were involved in reviewing the concept and providing input.Left to right Jammie Musselman, Jack Chissenhall, Boyd Coddington, Billy Gibbons, Larry Erickson, and myself Craig Naff.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-06This is the 1948 Cadillac Sedanette that would become Cadzilla


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-05A 70,000+ mile Arizona car, only driven to church by a little old lady!


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-07

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-08Here is a Sharp dressed man checking out his new ride.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-09Phillip Dahn taking photos for Hot Rod mag. I was supposed to look like I knew what I was talking about.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-10Disassembly of original Caddy.


    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-11At this point in the build the plan was to use the original frame and install all new suspension.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-12Off with her head!


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-13Now its time to correct all the factory defects . LOL


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-14At this stage I was working toward having 1 side of the car roughed in for a review by Larry Erickson, and Billy Gibbons.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-15This was a simple buck developed from the full size drawing, and several sketches.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-16New hand fabed roof sides an windshield posts. I used the original roof center section.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-17

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-18Side view of new roof sections. The quarter window area has also been modified to be a hardtop.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-19Rear fender reinstalled.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-20The roof to rear body transition area has been shaped, as well as the modifications to the trailing edge of the fender.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-21Rear view of the roof transition.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-22Here the hood has been pie cut and tacked together and the channel has been formed for the original mascot.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-23Hood tacked up will soon be welded to the fenders.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-24New door skin with fade away bead line shaped and tacked in place the door skins were shaped in 2 sections. the new lower fender section is also in place.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-25This is 1 side of the car roughed in and ready for review. No inner structure has been fabed at this point.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-26Jack Chisenhall and Billy Gibbons like what they see, Now will someone help this man get his beard back in the car!


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-27Good review, now things get serious.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-28Good comparison of height to full size in the back ground.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-29To facilitate having suicide doors I removed the hinge posts from the front of the door opening switched them side to side and reinstalled them to the rear of the door opening. I used thin wall rectangular tubing for the body sills


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-30A new section has been fabbed and welded into the area forward of the wheel housing



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-31The rear window opening has been flanged for a shelf for the glass to set on


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-32The new latch post has been fabricated and welded into the body. The latch is in the post and the striker will be on the door.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-33The skin for the deck lid is shaped and being fit to the body


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-34The second side of the car is now also complete and the taillight buckets are welded in


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-35The front fenders behind the wheel opening have been split and a new lower portion made and welded into the body. This is where the tilt front end will separate and will be hidden by a chrome trim piece. This was before the second review.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-36This is the new chassis built by Larry Seirgeif at Boyds


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-37The chassis uses C-4 Corvett front suspention a 9″ Ford rear suspention,and a 500 CID Cadillac engine.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-38This is the new rear wheel tub and the bracing for the upper half of the rear fender.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-39The inside of the front door post showing the latch and electric solenoid.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-40Rear hinge post reinforcement.

    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-41Rear wheel tub, outer trunk floor and fender welded to body and leaded.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-42Completed firewall,a nd latch posts.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-43These are the patterns I shaped to have the glass made from. They are shaped from 1/8″ aluminum.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-44The patterns were delivered to California glass bending and they formed several sets of 1/4″ laminated safety glass from them.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-45

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-46The body shell is complete and ready for Greg Morrel to coat it in primer.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-47The body is primed and the inner frame for the deck lid is complete. The trunk floor is also finished.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-48The bottom side of the deck lid.showing hinges and air struts to hold it open. You can also see the linear actuators that raise and lower the rear of the car.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-49Inside of completed deck lid.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-50Completed deck lid.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-51Cowl area with hood latch receiver.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-52Engine compartment with cowl bracing completed. Dzus tabs are for inner wheel housings.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-53Sorry got this photo out of sequence, these are the electric actuators to lift the rear of the car for loading . They use bell cranks to move the upper coilover shock mount.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-54This section of the fender has been removed to be replaced with a new section with the raised spear that flowes back into the door.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-55Completed fender spear, and frenched headlamp opening.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-56This shows the inner bracing inside the hood/ fender assembly.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-57Side view of the open front end.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-58Close up of the tilt mechanism for the front end. The bumper has become a structural element the hinges mount to it as does the fenders. The assembly is opened by an electric actuator, and the gas struts help smooth out the movement.



    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-59All closed up the piece of brass trim is in place to cover the seam between the upper and lower fender sections.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-60Front or car showing 55 Chevy bumper,modified 49 Caddy upper grill bar hand fabbed center bar,and the controversial Moon tank.



    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-61Close up of the hand formed brass center bar parking lamp opening.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-62The Dagmars (bumper guards) were original Caddy modified to fit .


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-63Windshield wipers hidden below hood line.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-64Hand formed brass taillight bezels.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-65Chassis assembly 500CID Caddy engine built by Art Chrisman.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-66Rear of chassis Pete Morrel at tool box.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-67Body in sealer ready for color.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-68Egg Plant anyone?



    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-69Final assembly Pete Morrel again.



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Rik Hoving

    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-70Duane Mayer Pete Morrel and Larry Sierjef.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-71Interior was a joint effort between Dan Drum and Bobby Griffey.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-72Hand made steering wheel and restored gauge panel.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-73Down on the ground! Boyd Coddington watching over the proceedings with Andy, and Carl.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-74Wow this is my all time favorite angle of this car. Larry Erickson in the Back ground.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-75Open House unveiling at Hot Rods by Boyd.


    Cadzilla-Craig Naff-76

    THE END…..



    Enjoy the beauty of Customizing

    Mild Mitch


    Thanks to Craig Naff and thanks you Rik for posting this. It is really inspiring to see the “behind the scenes” creation and construction details of this car. I was fortunate to see Cadzilla several times shortly after its debut .

    I actually had a near perfect ’48 Cadillac at the time Cadzilla was being built. I wanted to chop and customize my car of course. There were several other Cadillacs that had been built just prior to Cadzilla that were hard topped. They all just looked wrong to me. When this car hit the scene, it was mind bending! I sold my Cad, knowing then I could just never do it justice. I still love Cadzilla, and it did truly change and further the Custom Car world. The design, engineering and build quality caused others to step up their game.

    True Inspiration and Art



    Incredible!  Thank you for posting these.

    Ian Gibbons

    Thanks for posting Rik. I absolutely love built pics especially when it is cars of this level. A great car that IMO has stood the test of time.


    Fabulous! incredible project! i love this car..and Gibbon..

    GoOd TiMeS !


    Nice. I like the ZZ Top firewall, never saw a picture of that before.

    David Wolk

    I was there for the unveiling of Cadzilla. The 1st few photos in this story with the cardboard cutouts were taken at the unveiling in Louisville Ky. It was an invitation only event hosted by Hot Rod magazine at a large conference room at a hotel which took place during the NSRA Street Rod Nationals. I was lucky enough to be invited. It was the 1st time I’d been to something like that. The room was full of hot rod builders and hot rod industry folks. It was very cool to be there, but also very intimidating.

    Cadzilla sat in the corner of the room covered with large white sheets until the unveiling.


    I’ve always liked this car and thought it captured a nice blend of traditional and contemporary styling, as mentioned. I never could figure out that silly tank in the grill. It’s awesome to see these build pictures!

    Robert A. Radcliffe III
    King Kustoms

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