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Faded Glamour: 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special


This 1939 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special will require a lot of work before it’s roadworthy, but there’s more solid metal and parts there than you might expect after a first glance. It’s for sale in Washington, DC and is listed here on eBay, where the buy-it-now is only $1,000 but lower bids are being welcomed.


There are certainly some ragged edges to the sheet metal, and when I first saw the auction I was concerned about all the trim, chrome and details. Thankfully, someone removed those at some point and pictures are included of lots of the trim stored indoors. Maybe there’s hope for this example of pre-war extravagance yet!


If you look closely at the detail pictures, most of the rust really isn’t that bad. I really like the front end of these old Cadillacs with the separate headlight pods.


If you’re wondering what one would look like restored, here’s an image courtesy of conceptcarz.com. The covers over the side mounted spare tires really add some class to the lines of this great car. I also like the finely detailed grilles.


If you decide to take this project on, you will absolutely be starting from scratch in the interior. I’m guessing the seat frames are still usable, based on the limited rust in the rest of the car, but other than that there’s going to be a lot of construction. I’m speaking, of course, of a stock interior; I suppose if you weren’t going back as original you could put other seats in, but I’m stuck on the idea of returning this to stock.


The seller believes the V8/3-speed drivetrain to be original. If so, it’s a 346 cubic inch, 130 horsepower engine. The seller says that the engine was running when the car was parked in its current location, although they don’t tell us how long ago that was. Ultimately, you’ll have to be captured by the image of having a finished project like the green one above to carry a major restoration through (or have a really large checkbook!). While I don’t fit either description, perhaps you do? How would you proceed?


  1. Avatar photo Rex Kahrs Member

    Looks like it would be a parts gold mine, especially at that price.

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  2. Avatar photo Tim

    The 39/40 Fleetwood 60 Special is a certified Milestone car and a very desirable car.. The price is a bargain but it does need a lot of work. 10-20 years ago this wouldn’t be a restoration candidate.. But they’re scarce now.
    I hope it doesn’t get the standard and lame 350-auto camaro front clip garbage that so many end up with. They’re sweet when restored to original

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  3. Avatar photo Donnie

    I have never seen an engine with the exhaust manifolds like that in the place they are at

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  4. Avatar photo Nessy

    They are giving this car away at 1000. That flat head drive train would sell for well over 1000 and those rare side mount fenders with the tire covers included could bring several thousand. I have two of these cars, a first year 38 and a 41 which was the final year of this body style. First mass production car without running boards and the first car where the trunk was designed to look like part of the car, where cars built before the 60 Special looked like the trunk was an add on. I think the first year 38 model had the best looking front end. This was the first car Bill Mitchell designed for GM under Harley Earl. If you know who Bill Mitchell was and all the famous cars he designed after the 60 Special, you will know how special, this 60 Special really is. CCCA Full Classic.

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  5. Avatar photo piper62j

    Get out your mig welder and sheetmetal brake.. You’re gonna need it with this puppy..

    Nice car when it’s done and your loan is paid off.. IMHO

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  6. Avatar photo Mark S

    Very cool car but for me I would look for an 80’s or 90’s donor Cadillac Fleetwood in good condition with a leather interior. And build a resto mod based on parts from the donor car. You should be able to upgrade just about everything on this old caddy except he outside looks. If a donor car with a black interior could be found then I’d go with a dark red over black exterior. Nice find.

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    • Avatar photo Dave Wright

      If you want a 80’s or 90’s Cadillac……….just buy one. Rodding this car would be like painting graffiti on the Mona Lisa……..should be illegal. Or buy a plastic kit car to build.

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      • Avatar photo Mark S

        Hi Dave thanks for your opinion. I’m glad it’s not illegal.because a lot of old car like this will never be brought back to running condition unless there is an affordable way of doing it. And for a lot of us that means building a custom. It’s great to restore these but, we have plenty of examples of these siting around gathering dust in private collection and museums. We really don’t need more trailer queens. If it is correctly done and could be made into a daily driver that you can get parts for when it brakes down, you might actually get a gen. Z to want it. As it stands we are already seeing families dumping grandpas pride and joy cars into salvage yards. Gen. Z is not interested in these old cars so I ask you Dave what is so bad about doing an upgrade with modern seats, steering, brakes, suspension, engine, transmission etc.while keeping the old look. This old car is nothing more than folded steel, rubber, and glass. We all need to wake up and realize that the party is almost over for most of these old rust buckets, so again what’s wrong with making this into something more practical.

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      • Avatar photo Dave Wright

        This car should be treated like other things on the list of historical places. I had a 109 foot tug that was on the list. It could not be substantially modified by law. People don’t realize that the law and list also included non real estate things. This car is orignal, still has its mechanicals and body in tact. Find one in a junkyard missing the engine and robbed of its important parts to destroy. Or better yet…..just buy a new car and get everything you want. I am doing a one owner 1920 Packard truck this year. It like this car is a historical icon that needs to be made as it was new……..not built into a munstermobile with a coffin as a cab………not every car is important or worthy of a full historic rebuild, I think this one is. If it wasn’t so far away……..I would have already bought it.

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      • Avatar photo Brad

        That’s the thing, Dave, Mark *doesn’t* want a 90’s Caddy. Nor do I. Many of us are able to appreciate the incredible beauty of this car… but also the fact that it requires more money to save than it will ever be worth. There simply isn’t enough money and interest to save every amazing object out there. I wish there were, as I too cringe when seeing a beautiful car ruined with an awful paint color, tinted windows and stupid little tires.

        But to use your analogy, if someone discovered a new daVinci in the dirt – wormholes and covered in grime…. but nobody wanted to spend what it required for a perfect restoration, would you prefer they toss it in the trash? Or would you want someone who loved it to do the best they could in order to preserve what made it special and display it?

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  7. Avatar photo Bigtimecharlie

    Your example of what it might look like finished is the wrong model. The Series 60 is much sleeker.

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  8. Avatar photo MountainMan

    Im with Mark. My budget wouldnt allow a full resto back to showroom condition but finding the right 80s-90s donor caddy would keep this car on the road and doing the work myself not break the bank. Bottom line is whoever buys it can do whatever they want. I would rather see it on the road with a “standard and lame 350 auto camaro front clip garbage” build than see it sit and rot away because the buyer cant complete the restoration job required to return it to original glory. If all the trim isnt there I would use what is included or even none at all (oh the humanity!) and get this beauty on the road again regardless of what the purists think. The idea of a restomod build actually really appeals to me so the car could be daily driven in comfort with power, heated seats, AC, modern safe brakes etc. yup…Im that guy I guess but oh well, at the price its listed for ya never know…sombody may have that 3/4 ton 4×4 truck that they just wrecked on stand by for a full frame donation and make the thing a real redneck restomod just because they can.

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    • Avatar photo Mark S

      DHi Jamie this car that you are showing on this link is what I’m talking about, a car that looks old but runs, handles and drives like a modern car. As for Dave and his tug that’s a one of, the caddies even like this one there were thousands of them, and there are still plenty of restored examples of them too. Right now as it sits it not a historical artifact it’s a rust bucket that will never get restored because the cost would be astronomical. The metal fabrication alone for most people would be 30K to 40K I know you are a restorer Dave and could do all this yourself but that’s you not every body else is capable, so let me ask you this do you want people in this hobby or should we just let it die.

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  9. Avatar photo charlie Member

    To me, one of the best designs of the late 30’s early 40’s in mass production. I like the ’41 front end the best, but to each his own. I bet Cadillac had this in mind when the first Sevilles were produced (on the Nova underpinnings no less) as a smaller but well designed and luxury product than the regular line of oversized road monsters.

    As for restoring this one, buy it and part it out. Make the rest of them worth more.

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    • Avatar photo Tim

      Bill Mitchell designed the 60 special in the 1930’s AND the 1975 Seville, as one of his last designs before retirement so the similarities are by no means an accident. It was a throwback to that car.
      Incidentally, The next series Seville in 1980 had the swooping humpback inspired by rolls Royce hooper coach work.

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  10. Avatar photo MountainMan

    Mark S
    I agree with you, rather see it on the road and enjoyed than the victim of stalled resto due to astronomical cost. Some purists dont budge but no matter whats under the hood this car will be beautiful. The newer interior will be comfortable and modern suspension, brakes etc will improve safety. Sure, there are vehicles, boats, buildings worthy of nothing less than being restored to the original glory but sometimes cost of said restoration is not in the budget of the owner. I sure would rather see it restomoded rather than letting it sit and rust away or even be parted out and become non existent altogether

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