1951 Cadillac Coupe DeRat

Where some may see a money pit, others may see the perfect project. Described as being complete, this mouse motel on wheels isn’t too rough if you take the time to look it over. Certainly not the prettiest Caddy to look at, but appearing as a solid start, this 1951 Deville is up for auction for the current bid of $224.00, or there is a buy it now option for $5,500. Take a look at it here on ebay out of Michigan City, Indiana.

The 331 V8 is described as being “free” but the rusty appearance and the removed valve covers aren’t exactly an inspiring sight, but hopefully it could be rebuilt. For the “ratters” out there, a modern engine would make do to push around this heavy Caddy. Just about any Chevrolet engine would do, although for the modernist rat rod crowd, a Vortec 5.3 could be a solid power plant to build upon.

From this view the interior almost seems not too bad off. Granted there is some surface rust to be seen on the dash and the steering wheel has begun to break down and crack from heat and UV exposure. Despite those few concerns the dash seems in fair shape and could certainly be cleaned up a bit. Unfortunately there is not enough elbow grease in the world to help the rest of the interior.

Most certainly a mouse feast and motel for a very long time, this Cadillac would be a quick clean up as it would seem that everything inside needs to hit the trash. Obviously the seat frames, and interior hardware would be worth keeping to use in a recreation of custom upholstery, or for an interior restoration with appropriate “original” parts.

Despite the ratty look, the exterior really seems quite promising. There is obviously surface rust to be found on this classic, but rot appears to be slim to none. The manner in which the paint is worn and “burned” indicates to me that this car spent some time in a warm and dry climate.  That would also explain the interior quagmire. Some of the front panels appear to be replacements, like the hood and front fenders. There is a hole in the deck lid that looks to have been punched from the inside out. All in all the exterior appears to be relatively complete with the exception of a taillight lens. Not only will you get this Caddy for the sale price, but the seller mentions that there are a few spares to be thrown in with the car as well. Featuring a solid body but a cruddy core, would you restore or rat rod this Deville project?


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  1. Rube Goldberg Member

    I only hope this car does NOT go the resto-mod route. This was the nicest ( American) car you could buy in 1951, and should be treated with that respect once again. Sure it looks bad, they all do when found. Not everybody drove cars like this,(like today with no money down) and these cars told the world, you were doing ok. Even Royalty and every movie star owned these. Lot of work here, but in the end, be well worth it. Fantastic cars.

    Like 1
    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      As you said, one beautiful car when restored back to original.

  2. KKW

    Why a freaking chevrolet motor? Why not a later Cadillac motor, and keep it genuine? Pretty high price for the condition.

    • Miguel

      A later Cadillac motor would not keep it genuine, that would be a modification.

      Why not rebuild the motor it has?

      • KKW

        A later Cadillac motor would be genuine in that it’s still a Cadillac motor. But yes, rebuild the original if it’s rebuildible, and parts are still available.

  3. Madmatt

    I’ve always loved the 48 -53 Cads.
    This would make a fantastic resto mod,but
    as Rube says….this car was one of the nicest,
    that was available in 51,and although very pricey
    to restore to a high standard,it would be a stunning vehicle.
    These are very hard to find in much better shape,and
    it does look better than many projects of the same vintage.
    I hope it gets the love it deserves.

  4. Mark S. Member

    You could make yourself pretty sick going into that interior without a hasmat suite and respirator even striping the seat frames once out would be dangerous. When I brought my car home I set up mouse traps in the car because I didn’t want to start a community at home six traps two hits. After I pulled the seats out I bagged them in heavy plastic bags and stored them away. If this were my project I’d be putting modern leather seats out of a wrecked late model caddy. As for the motor about all you could do is pull it out and have it rebuilt, same goes for the transmission. The fact that this is a two door hardtop makes it more desirable and I believe it will sell but rat Roding it is a waste of a car.

  5. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    I didn’t know 15″ Pontiac Rally II wheels were a direct bolt-on for a 1951 Cadillac. All in the family, I suppose. I agree on all the references to mouse trap/fumigation/HAZMAT suits. Sometimes all you are doing is introducing a mouse hotel in a new location when you take delivery of something like this. Nice Olds and Scout parked nearby in the photos too!

  6. JACKinNWPA Jack in NW PA Member

    So it’s a “MouseRat” great mane for a rock band.

  7. Dusty Stalz

    The thought of rat rodding this car makes me sad. I was raised a street rodder but this car should be given some respect and dignity and be restored or restomodded. I’m actually suprised the author would mention “ratting” this car.

  8. Jack M.

    500 cubic inch Cadillac engine would provide the torque that you need to propel this heavy car up to modern speeds.

    • KKW

      A later 390 would be plenty.

  9. Allan

    “Engine is free I believe the car is complete and has a few extra parts including right front fender.”

    Punctuation is so important. Does the owner believe the engine is free or does the owner believe the car is complete?

    Priced pretty high, but then again, what is a solid ’51 Caddy body worth?

    There are also a few other interesting projects in the background of the photos.

  10. Mikestuff

    My uncle had a Cadillac 4door of this vintage. I wasn’t enough of a car geek to remember the year, but he always had nice big GM cars, back when you could a new one every couple of years. His was black and huge and gorgeous.

  11. Jack Quantrill

    Harry Winston Jewelers used to have front-end pictures of these Caddies with expensive necklaces above. I’d cut these out and stick them on my wall as a kid.

  12. Mountainwoodie

    In the early sixties we inherited a ’52 4 door from my Uncle. We were driving a ’61 stripper Chevy. My Dad thought the car a little much and sold it. What I remember most as a little kid is I couldn’t keep my hands off the secret taillight button that flipped up the light to access the gas filler. Drove my Dad nuts!

  13. Dick in SoCal

    What about the Olds 98 next to it? The only thing better would be if it was a Series 61 i.e. same power train but slightly shorter and lighter. BTW, there are a few part interchanges with other GM products.

  14. Maestro1 Member

    I think the buy it now price is ridiculous. You are at about $35-$40,000 for restoration on this one, but believe me, you’ll never let it go.

  15. Ron

    Put a cts-v drive train in it. But leave the body and interior as stock as possible. Supercharged 6.2 with a big Cadillac logo under the hood. 6 figure car easy.

  16. tommy

    I’ll take the Olds next to it!

  17. 86 Vette Convertible

    Where’s Billy Gibbons when you need him? I think that’s a close year to his Cadzilla IIRC.

  18. RandyS

    Like! Wish it was closer and I had space and time.

    Other than refresh the interior and paint, I would restomod it just enough to make it drive and brake more like a modern car. Modern brakes, overdrive trans, PS and TB fuel injection. Done.

    • Jon

      Exactly what I would do …. will make a great highway cruiser …


    No resto-mod for this Car. Restore to stock. Since engine turns ,rebuild it. Dad had 1956 Pontiac Chieftain, beautiful car. Never got it on the road. Mom sold for next to nothing after Dad passed. Hope someone restored it.

  20. Jim Z Member

    I had one of these back in the 70’s. Very sweet running motor, and the low gear would squeak the tires. Plenty of pep with the transmission, can’t remember if it was 3 or 4 speed, but highway driving was easy. No park gear, shift to reverse then shut off. The power seat and windows were hydraulic, using brake fluid. Get a leak, car would stink!

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