First With Fins: 1949 Cadillac Series 61

right front

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The 1949 Cadillac was the first all-new postwar body and the first appearance of tail fins. These were said to be inspired by the P-38 fighter. This grand old Caddy is in Bakersfield and listed here on craigslist for $12,000. That is about the value of a condition 4 car and about the average selling price of all similar cars. This is far from a condition 4 car and far below the condition of the average car, so this Cadillac seems overpriced. The seller has done a tuneup and flushed the fuel lines, but there’s no word on brakes.


This appears complete and original. A picture of the engine would be nice, but it’s likely stock. There’s no mention of rust and there’s none visible except the surface rust on the chrome. The chrome would be very expensive to have redone, of course. The interior appears to need a lot of work. The most this car would be worth as a perfect show car would be $50,000, so restoring this doesn’t make much sense. But perhaps this would be a great driver at a little more reasonable price. With a little interior work and whatever mechanical work it needs it would have quite the presence.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Lee H.

    1948 was the first Cadillac with tail fins. 1949 was the first year with the overhead valve engine.

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  2. Woodie Man

    And a Metro behind it!

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  3. Duffy

    Am I thinking the price is set to high or is it just me. The last couple of caddy’s on barn finds have been a little out of line, price wise. I think $12000.00 is a little over board. Just the front bumper rechromed to show chrome $2200.00. Then what’s next?

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  4. David C

    My dad was a 49 Cadillac freak! He had a 49 convertible when he married my mom in 1952. Black with red leather interior and a white top. When I was 14 he bought a sedan which I helped him work on and get back on the road. He sold it and started looking for a series 61. He couldn’t find one but found a series 62 (a coupe) and bought it from a Delta pilot. The pilot I remember at the time had a 1953 corvette, 2 1957 caddy’s with the stainless steel roof. and he drove a 1963 split window fuelie vette.
    Anyway I helped my dad restore that Cadillac back to it’s original glory. Some of the best memories of my life! It was Green with tan interior and a tan top. He still always wanted a fastback but never got one.

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  5. Lee

    Dear Flip –you erroneously have placed an extra 0 in your pricing on the Cadillac No side shot of the rocker panels –an oversite?? /Lee

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  6. 64 bonneville

    One of my favorite years and body style of Cadillac. Would love to have, even give my eye teeth, but at this time in life, I have neither the health or the finances to take on this project.

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  7. Mike R

    Harley Earl’s legacy lives on. Great looking car!

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  8. DolphinMember

    One of my favorite Caddy years too.

    First OHV Caddy engine, which made them competitive with flathead Fords with the hot rodders. I remember seeing speed equipment start to be advertised in the ’50s car magazines, and I don’t think it was aimed at those older established gentlemen who tended to buy a Caddys back then.

    This is one of the Caddys that my father owned back in the day, always bought used and lightly crashed or maybe with an bad engine noise so he could fix it and drive a great car for affordable money.

    As a kid the best part for me was the flip-up tail light that hid the gas filler cap. I still remember pushing the little round red reflector to release it. I also remember how solid it felt when you lifted it and then put it down. Not much plastic stuff on cars back then, except the steering wheel grip and some knobs on the dash. Everything else was really built.

    The price is probably high, but it’s in inland California and if it’s a genuine CA car from way back it could be solid. If I were in the market for a 2-door Caddy from the first OHV year I would want to look at this car, but I don’t think there are going to be too many people craving one of these, so call it overpriced for that reason. He’ll probably have to drop the price to move it.

    I hope it goes to someone who will just bring it up to good driver condition, and then drive it, especially to Show ‘N Shines, and especially the ones I visit each summer.

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  9. Mark S

    Big Heavy Awsome.

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  10. DENIS

    Love that vintage-a little long on price….Great street machine material if price was in line…

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  11. jeff6599

    1948 was the first year for Caddy’s fins.Why are these guys always providing misinformation? Not enough knowledge? Too money hungry to spend a few minutes to look it up?

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  12. Brad

    I don’t know why the price is such a stretch, seems like a solid survivor with no obvious major issues. Not every car needs to be viewed from the perspective of its distance-from-perfection I’m lookin’ at you, Duffy with your bumper chrome costs. ; )

    We’re in the age of survivors, folks! Get it running, buff that old paint and enjoy!
    Who needs Pebble Beach, when there’s thousands of miles of coastline!

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  13. john C

    Happy Fourth soon All …Good you got everyone ‘calmed the heck’ down !!!

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