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Half Off? 1939 Cadillac Front End

Johnny Cash sang his way into the hearts of all Americans who wanted a luxury car but could not afford one through conventional means.  His “One Piece at a Time” ballad tells the story of an assembly line worker who managed to form a Cadillac from the various bits and pieces he smuggled out of the Cadillac plant he worked at over the course of several years.  While a bit fanciful, everyone has to start a project somewhere.  If you fancy a fascinating project that will likely be more for decoration than for cruising around in luxury, check out this 1939 Cadillac front end for sale on Facebook Marketplace in St. Anne, Illinois.  Cosmetically restored from the bumperettes to the front quarter windows, this one-third of a Cadillac would make a great conversation piece or an excellent addition to your personal safe space at home.  Is the $2,500 asking price reasonable?  What would you do with it?  Thanks to NWIowa for the tip!

Car lovers are a frugal lot.  We don’t seem to want to waste anything, and often will repurpose items that we cannot use on our projects.  One can only speculate as to why one of our fellow car buffs decided to preserve the front half of a 1939 Cadillac.  Perhaps it was all that was left after a wreck or an attempt to make the leftovers from a parts car into something else.  The ad writer is also clueless and can only speculate on the who, what, where, why, and how of this prewar partition of a Cadillac’s origins.  What we do know is that some time and effort were spent on this unique chunk of a Caddy.  From the somewhat presentable paint to the intact chrome and trim, this portion of a car is an impressive representation of a banner year for Cadillac styling.

From what we can tell from the pictures, the front end was cut just behind the front vent windows.  The frame was torch cut, while the cuts on the sheet metal were much cleaner.  One could assume that the engine and transmission was removed along with the rest of the mechanical bits and pieces.  That is a bit of a shame if the intended recipient was a child who had a love of cars.  Taking away the ability to clutch, brake, accelerate, and shift from a child’s imagination is almost criminal.  Who among us didn’t spend time behind the wheel of an adult’s inert automobile pretending to drive down the road?

Given the completely vertical nature of the cut, it seems likely that this Caddy was placed against a wall as a form of decoration.  While you probably couldn’t store the headlight of this Cadillac in my overcrowded storage space, perhaps it was the whimsical decoration of someone more well heeled’s cavernous garage.  Or their man cave.  Maybe even a “she shed.”  We cannot assume anything anymore, especially language.  Perhaps the new nomenclature for such an enclosure should be a “they/them hanger” using the parlance of our times.  It has all become so confusing and language has become such a minefield.  At any rate, it would make a cool decoration no matter where it was placed.  Cool things have a way of transcending all barriers.  Bonus points could be awarded if the lights were wired up to give of that warm amber glow of a 6-volt system.  LEDs just wouldn’t do here.

The most important question concerns where this chunk of a car goes next.  Even without the engine and transmission, the weight must be considerable and the general movement is surely unwieldy.  At a $2,500 asking price, do you think that there is someone out there looking for such a piece of yard art or wall ornament?  How much more should be set aside for shipping and a general refurbishment?  Please let us know what you think in the comments and if it would be worth it to you.


  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    If you’ve got the garage screw it to a wall and make the engine compartment into storage. Might even hook the lights up to the garage lights.

    Like 12
  2. Driveinstile Member

    If I saw this when I was a little kid, Id be driving it all over the place, well, at least in my head all day long!!! I cant help but wonder why this was done. One thought I had is the rear end got hit hard and they were able to salvage the front, so why not? I like Bobs Idea of mounting it to a wall and hooking up the headlights to a light switch.

    Like 4
  3. Tbone

    I want it

    Like 5
  4. geezerglide 85

    I have to agree with the idea that is was some type of display mounted to building. Maybe a bar, nightclub, auto parts store, junkyard? It’s too bad someone cut up an old Caddy, but it was likely done a long time ago when this was just an old car. Another thought, could this have been the front of a hearse or an ambulance? It would be good if somebody needed front end parts for a restoration.

    Like 11
  5. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    bobhess idea is good. Open the hood make it a cooler for beers etc. Hook up the lights to work. This would be so cool in a large garage/man cave with other cars there. Hey I can dream! 😂

    Like 9
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      Like the way you think. That would give you the space the garage refrigerator used to live in.

      Like 4
  6. Howie

    The price is right for a bar or club.

    Like 6
  7. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I’m half tempted to buy this.

    Like 10
    • Autoworker

      I’d chop the top.

      Like 1
    • sisuman Member

      I’m only a third tempted.

      Like 8
      • JGod

        My temptation has been reduced by half….

        Like 2
  8. John Eder

    What? No 1/4 mile ET or top speed?

    Like 5
  9. Fred W

    Chuy’s Tex Mex uses the open trunk of a 50’s car as it’s salsa bar. I’ll bet the open hood of this one could hold about 50 varieties!

    Like 3
    • bobhess bobhess Member

      There’s a restaurant in Naples, FL that’s got a 1930 Ford flatbed right in the middle of it that serves as the salad bar. Pretty cool.

      Like 4
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      In the late 1980s the Studebaker’s chain of restaurants opened up a location in Rockville, MD. They wanted to buy a 2-door 1950 or ’51 Studebaker for display, and they bought my 1950 Champion 2-door sedan.

      A few months later I get a call from a local Rockville body shop asking me if I’m interested in buying the engine & trans, interior, dash, and other parts for a ’50 Studebaker. Turned out the restaurant took my car [which was a beautiful, fully restored car in maroon], cut the top off and turned it into a salad bar.

      When the restaurant went belly-up in the mid 1990s, the manager called me and asked if I was interested in the car. I went over and looked at it. The restaurant was located in the basement of a large office building, and he said if I could get it out, I could have it, as he had to get it out because the company was changing the name and theme of the restaurant and needed it gone.

      I backed a rollback truck up to the front entrance, the manager had the front doors removed in advance and workers laid down 2 layers of 3/4″ plywood, overlapping & screwed together, placed over the stairs. Used the winch to pull it up the stairs & out the doors, and brought it back to the shop.

      Because the body shop had destroyed the roof and both door window surrounds when they turned it into a salad bar, I ended up stripping the remains of all the new or restored parts, and used them on another car we were restoring.

      Like 3
  10. Davey Boy

    That would make a very cool decoration as everybody has said but how much would it cost to buy this much in parts for your car? Looks like it would make a great parts car even though there’s only half of it looks pretty straight and like it might work for that if nothing else. Although the beer cooler really is a great idea!!

    Like 3
  11. Mike

    That divorce must have been extremely vicious.

    Like 30
  12. RoadDog

    I see a one-of-a-kind customization opportunity here: Graft it onto a C/K 4×4 chassis, fabricate a bed to match, & have a one-of-none Cadillac ‘El Camino’! Too rich for me to take on. Any takers?

    Like 2
  13. Ray Member

    What an awesome tailgate trailer this would make. Cooler and/or bbq.

    Like 2
  14. SteVen

    HALF OFF!!
    Look, an early Columbus Day Sale!

    Like 3
  15. Edward Walsh

    Make it into a rat rod with a slick front end

    Like 2
  16. Russ Ashley

    If the parts from windshield forward are in as good condition as they look to be it would easily be worth the asking price if you needed parts for a similar car. I’d like to know the history on it.

    Like 4
  17. Lance

    Where’s the guy who always wants to drop a crate motor into anything???

    Like 4
  18. ACZ

    I wonder what happened to the rest of it?

    Like 2
  19. chrlsful

    guy did this w/leftovers of a FC jeep. Windshield/nose (so much fatter, no?). Left on wipers, lights, horn – hooked uptoa motion detector all behind the wall so when U took the hall down to the ‘small room’ it wuz on that facing wall, end of hall as U took last turn/door to enter. Guess he wanted to scare the xxx (pick 1 or 2) outta U w/the noise’n movement – all that stuff went off just as U got to the door.

    Like 2
  20. Tom

    Set it up with a comfy bench seat and place it in the mancave to watch movies. Would be like at the old drive-in’s. Grandkids would get a kick out of it!!

    Like 4
  21. Dennis6605

    If someone was rebuilding a ’39 Caddy this would be well worth it. Especially if you have had any chrome work done lately. Bumper and grill. Plus the body parts, fenders, hood, head lights, wind shield, hood ornament, plus what ever I’ve over looked.

    Like 1
  22. C5 Corvette

    Missing hubcaps……deal breaker!

    Like 2
  23. Greg

    Ran when parked, no tire kickers and low ballers, Firm price.

    Like 1
  24. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    In the early 1980s I bought a wrecked 1954 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith with a Mulliner limousine body. The car had been hit in the left front where the firewall was located, and the frame was damaged. The car had been in outside storage for years, and as the body was aluminum over an ash wood framework, much of the wood body supports in front of the division window were rotted away. So it became a parts car to keep other Rolls-Royce vehicles on the road.

    One day, after coming back from a World Of Wheels car show at the Washington DC National Guard Amory, I was deciding what to do with the limo once I finished pulling the grill, front trim, engine, trans, front suspension, etc. Then an idea came to me:

    My Rolls-Royce limo service and I had recently been a vendor at a large wedding convention, and I saw a photographer showing his new Mitsubishi Video Printer. This was a breakthrough unit with the ability to capture a photo from a video camera, and quickly print out multiple copies of the photograph. It was an early ink-jet printer, and it printed photos that looked like a Polaroid print.

    What if I restored the back half of the limo body and interior, with the rear seat still in place, but the folding jump seats and all the body from just rear of the division window area, leaving only the floor. This would allow people to walk up a couple of steps and into the limousine body, sit down and have their photo taken in a genuine Rolls-Royce, while they waited.

    I contacted the World Of Wheels promoter and pitched the idea, and he loved it! We made plans to put it in the vendor area of the show next year, and I started restoring and modifying the back half of the limo. The body was painted a metallic silver and the interior was upholstered in a deep blue velour material. I installed a removeable tow hitch in the front so I could tow it behind my truck.

    The World Of Wheels was a 3 day event, with set-up the day before. It only took about an hour to have it fully set up, and soon we had many of the other vendors and show car owners wanting their photos taken in the Rolls! As soon as the show opened, we had the beginnings of a line of people waiting to have their photo taken, and many were families with kids who wanted multiple copies [At $10 each]. That line of waiting customers lasted all day until the show closed each night.

    As for this Cadillac front, I’m wondering if something similar could be done, where people would stand behind the body, looking thru the windshield, while a video printer captured the photo.

    Like 2

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