The Salon Privé Sale 2017

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1949 Cadillac Series 61 'Club Coupé'

Lot No.: 240

Registration: 411 XUN
Chassis Number: 496192346
Engine Number: 496262151
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 5400
Year of Manufacture: 1949
RHD/LHD: Left Hand Drive
Sold for (£): Unsold

With their competitors slow to react after WW2, Cadillac seized the initiative. Introduced in 1948, the marque's aeronautically inspired 'tail-fin' motif was the work of Harley Earl-trained stylist Franklin Q. Hershey. An immediate trendsetter, it was joined some twelve months later by an all-new overhead valve V8 engine. Engineered by Ed Cole, Jack Gordon and Harry Barr, this 331 cu in (5.4 litre) unit was smaller, more powerful and almost 200lbs lighter than its predecessor. Boasting wedge-shaped combustion chambers, 'slipper' pistons and hydraulic valve lifters, it developed 160bhp in standard tune and soon found favour among the competition fraternity. The 1949 model year Cadillacs were underpinned by a surprisingly competent modular chassis design, a massive cross-braced affair equipped with independent front suspension, a 'live' rear axle and potent drum brakes.

Externally, the '49 cars featured an extended bonnet line with the Goddess 'hood ornament' moved forward, a new grille that wrapped on to the wings and around to the wheel openings, and new chrome trim, giving the car a longer, lower, wider stance. Inside, a fully revamped interior boasted a new instrument panel, door mouldings, trim, and stylish materials.

Praise for the 1949 Cadillac was literally universal, with Britain’s 'The Motor' magazine declaring that “the car offers astonishing value for money. It has performance which few makes can rival, and even fewer surpass, a general silence of running, which many will consider unbeaten, and an ease of driving.” Motor Trend was more succinct; it simply named the 1949 Cadillac its very first “Car of the Year”.

Easily the most desirable body style among Cadillac’s 'Series 61' lineup this year was the Club Coupé (occasionally known as the 'Sedanette'). This sleek fastback is beautifully represented by the car offered here, which was first registered in California on 01/07/1949 and no doubt had many adventures over the decades before being committed to an extensive renovation, respray and re-chrome in California between 2004 and 2006. Acquired by a German collector in 2006, it was used by him in Germany for a couple of years before being sold here in the UK and registered on 31/07/2008. Its next owner was a Canadian who was working here and who enjoyed this somewhat dramatic piece of Americana until 2010 when he planned to auction the car prior to his return to Canada. Unfortunately, on the way to the auction venue, the water pump seized and the engine threw a connecting rod. It was then stored in a dry barn for five years before being acquired by its current owner, our vendor. He immediately commissioned a careful and meticulous rebuild of the engine, water pump and other ancillaries and the 'Caddy' is now in regular use as part of his collection of interesting classics. During the engine rebuild it was noted that there was a factory tag on the block indicating that very early in the car's life the original engine had been replaced with a Series 62 unit (Stock no.0151 Power pack). The replacement engine is 496262151 which is a 1949 build so the exchange must have happened within months of the car being new. Series 61 and 62 engines are identical. 

411 XUN presents really well in a Deep Metallic Royal Blue with an amazing, period interior in Grey-striped cloth. The nicely patinated 'Bakelite' steering wheel, push-button radio, and extravagant white-wall tyres, all shout about the American post-war dream, as do the unashamed 'Dagmar Bumpers' and fledgeling tail fins - Detroit Designers without a budget.

This five-seat, 1949, Series 61 Club Coupé will turn more heads than a Porsche at ten times the price and will be economical to service, repair and insure. With Forties and Fifties Americana currently becoming the most dominant influence in modern fashion and design, this beautiful '49 Caddy represents an amazing opportunity.