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A Classic 1941 Cadillac Sedanette That Needs Some Love

To move from casual web shopper to actual bidder on old cars often involves a leap of faith. You have to imagine the rusty, dusty vehicle in the pictures as a gleaming restoration and source of pride in your garage. With this 1941 Cadillac Series 61 Sedanette Fastback, for sale here on eBay in Portland, Oregon (though the car is actually in Idaho) with bids only around $2,200, it’s not hard to get there.

This is a bit different from a barn find. The current owner found it in the barn, dragged it back to his lair, then made plans to replace the busted original motor (a rod went through the block) with a 331-cubic-inch overhead-valve V-8 from a 1950s car. But then life happened, and after engine and transmission removal the plans stalled. The stock 3.77 rear end was replaced with a 3.36 unit that will work better with the 331, but it doesn’t look like anything else was done.

Sometimes it’s better (OK, it’s almost always better) when they leave the car intact instead of dismantling it and stashing the parts haphazardly in boxes. The Cadillac is almost all there, missing the fog light covers, hubcaps, rocker trim, and a trunk light housing. A bunch of extra parts come with it, including fender trim, taillight lenses and bezels, an extra grille, headlight rings and more.

This is the seller’s opinion: “Overall, the car is in good condition for a project. No major body damage, rust is in the rocker/sill area. And in the trunk floor on the sides. The bottom of the doors and trunk lid are solid. The Exterior still has what is left of the original paint. The Interior is complete and original, with only the carpet being removed to show the condition of the floors. Great start to a resto rod or custom build. Clear title in my name, car is being stored in Idaho.”

In addition to a drivetrain, the car will need a completely new interior, from seats to headliner. The floors aren’t the worst but are crusty around the rocker panels, and there’s major rot on the right side of the trunk. The body is fairly good.

This is a diamond in the rough. The ’41 Caddy is a great design, and the sedanettes are the prettiest of the lot in my opinion. Cadillac stayed with the fastback roof, shared with Chevrolet and Buick, through 1949. And, arguably, Bentley copied it for the Continental fastbacks. The ’41 Cadillac was designed by the legendary Bill Mitchell as one of his early GM projects. He signed on in 1935 when he was just 23.

Author Walt McCall writes in his book Eighty Years of Cadillac and LaSalle, “…the 1941 model year holds a special place in Cadillac’s long and proud history. Cadillac sales set a new record. It was a year of major styling change, and more than any other, firmly established Cadillac’s strong and extremely successful styling identity.” And, of course, the styling essentially remained frozen during the war and emerged with minor changes in 1946.

There was a bewildering number of models in 1941. The Series 61, this car, was complemented by the Series 62, the long-wheelbase Series 67, the Fleetwood Series 75, and the Fleetwood Series 6, and there was a lot of variation within the series. The price also varied a lot in ’41—from $1,435 to $3,150 for the Series 75 Imperial Sedan.

The bottom line is that this car would be very cool, either restored as a stocker or tastefully updated with a 1950s Cadillac drivetrain as the vendor suggests. And, of course, it could be a restomod, too. What’s your take?

Comments

  1. Harry Allen

    When you have basically a complete vehicle restoration is to me first on the list tastefully updated for safety purposes then creature comforts. Actually creature comforts start with restoring / preserving original art work without destroying the aesthetics of the original. I did my Model A with modern brakes and a 76 Pinto drive train simply because I got it with no drive train or engine and it all fit under the original cladding. the late model Hydraulic brakes were for safety. If you left the covers closed you did not know any difference plus there was little modification required.

    Like 7
    • Solosolo Solosolo Member

      That’s about the best story I have ever heard about what to do with a Model A.

      Like 2
    • That Guy

      That’s more or less the formula Shay followed for their Model A replica in the 1980s. Pinto drivetrain, modern brakes and I think a collapsible steering column, built with replica Model A parts. It looked original until you got real close, and it would fool most people even then.

  2. Rallye Member

    “1935 when he was just 23.”
    If that’s correct, how old was he when he retired?

    He was still at GM the last time he called. I think that was close to 30 years ago

    • CCFisher

      Bill Mitchell retired in 1977. The last car designed under his leadership was the 1980 Cadillac Seville. It was much more controversial than his earlier designs, but it still very much embodied the boldness and power with which he led GM design successfully for decades. Today’s design executives simply don’t have the power and influence necessary to get such an unusual design into production.

      Like 1
  3. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I love these Sedanette style cars. Since the engine is broken why not go all out and put a late model Cadillac drive train in it. With A/C, power disc brakes and electric power steering plus switch to electric windshield wipers, and keep everything else stock, it would be beautiful and a great safe driver. These are the things dreams are made of, only your imagination and bank account stand in the way. Perfect project for a young energetic car guy.

    God Bless America

    Like 8
  4. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    I love these Sedanette style cars. Since the engine is broken why not go all out and put a late model Cadillac drive train in it. With A/C, power disc brakes and electric power steering plus switch to electric windshield wipers, and keep everything else stock, it would be beautiful and a great safe driver. These are the things dreams are made of, only your imagination and bank account stand in the way. Perfect project for a young energetic car guy.

    God Bless America

    Like 4
  5. George Birth

    I agree with Johnmloghry find a wrecked Cadillac salvage drive train and bring it up to more modern equipment with A/C better brakes and then put some mileage on it.

    Like 2
  6. CCFisher

    Normally, I’m a “restore a complete, solid car to stock” kind of guy, but if this were mine, it would get an updated chassis with modern, lowered suspension geometry, disc brakes all around, a supercharged 6.2 in V-series livery, a 6-speed manual, a full custom interior in black and yellow, and a stock body coated with miles-deep black paint and gleaming stock chrome trim.

    Like 3
  7. JimmyinTEXAS

    I’m thinking I could tastefully update it with a 2014 CST-V chassis and get it on down the road.

    Like 1
  8. CenturyTurboCoupe

    350 diesel for me!

  9. Gary

    Man, this would make a beautiful 50’s style full custom.

  10. -OZ-

    Drop an electric motor and batteries, then upgrade wipers, door windows…. add A/C and brakes….leave them with questions they didn’t even know they had.

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