Ratty Caddy: 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood

Barn fresh and with a ratty patina, this Cadillac Fleetwood looks like a modern-day rat rod, but is not quite ready to drive. With a clean and clear title and a seemingly solid body, this Fleetwood could be a great restoration, or perhaps an even better rat rod. All of this classy Caddy can be yours for $5,500. Check out this sweet find here on craigslist near Spokane, Washington. Thanks to Roger for sharing this sweet Barn fresh find!

A favorite among many, this 331 Caddy V8 has yet to be touched. Appearing complete minus the air cleaner assembly, I would hope and think that there is still some life remaining in this 331. Dust, dirt, and even a little surface rust is present in the engine bay. Although for a long term stored barn find, I would say this Cadillac has aged well. The seller has made no effort to revive or estimate the condition of this machine. Though I would expect fuel, brake, cooling, and tune up needs.

The interior is a bit ratty, but matches the exterior quite well. There is a tremendous amount of space inside, offering plenty of room to ride your friends in style. The infamous blanket seat cover is a fitting addition to this ratty ride. Thankfully rust looks to be of minimal concerns when looking over the floors of this Fleetwood.

Mother nature used this Fleetwood as a blank canvas, and it is easy to see and appreciate the styling, the different textures, and the coloring of this machine. Although there are obvious signs of surface rust, there is not any apparent rot in this Caddy. As the seller has suggested, this would be a neat car to preserve as is or to perhaps add airbags to. A four-door isn’t the most desirable, but in this situation, I think it is easy to admire the overall appearance of this sedan. How would you enjoy this ratty Caddy??

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  1. Jack in NWPA Member

    Looks solid enough….drive it!

  2. Kevin Tapply

    Absolutely LOVE what this Caddy presents. Get the 331 running, bag the suspension, restore the interior and glass and drive it to every car show I could it would be appreciated way more than the oh so often recreated deuce coupe with a SBC….

    • JMG

      Agreed! Leave it the way it is, get it mechanically sorted, and have a ball cruizin’! Maybe some fresh interior fabrics, but I would go with the Mexican blanket theme! Love it.

  3. Mountainwoodie

    Restore it! As long as you have twenty grand or more laying around. The interior demands the oem fabric on the seats and door cards. The divided rear window and vertical chrome trim on the roof sides is really beautiful. This is a 4 door I could own and drive……..ummm……except for the twenty grand part of course.

    • Kevin Tapply

      $20K would be a good start but a full restoration would cost upwards of $100K to complete. IMHO that level of investment would not support a realistic commercial value.

  4. RoKo

    Absolutely hideous the way it is. Why do people think that spraying glossy clear coat on patina makes the car look better? I’d remove all that and give it a proper paint job right away.
    Needs a total restoration, then it’d be a real head turner rather than a stomach churner.

    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I couldn’t agree more restore restore restore. This car is in good enough shape to justify restoring it. Now I’d be inclined to do a simpathetic restoration which would mean repair as required. Repair and paint the body, and refabric the seats and door cards. If the head liner is good I’d spray a black die on it without removing it. I’m pretty good with a sewing machine so I would give the recovering of the seats a shot using the old covers as a pattern. Again black fabric.

    • rod444

      I don’t think its clear coat. Looks like it’s just wet. Not consistent over the whole car and some parts are dry.

    • Jeff

      I have to disagree. I hate the overused “P” word as much as anyone, but this car looks great as-is. Committing to a new paint job is much more than just paint, and all of the prep will cost you. That, and it will lead to rechroming of bumpers and trim, too. You’ll be in five-figures before you know it. I’d focus on the interior, making it presentable and comfortable, the powertrain, ensuring reliable “go”, and (above all else) good brakes. Then I’d enjoy nature’s years of work on the exterior finish and just drive.

    • DavidL

      Agreed. I think it’s just wet. Clear coat wouldn’t be so uneven unless the applier is totally inexperienced. I’ve never really looked at the lines of this year Cadillac but I really, really like it! In the right elegant color, not sure what this would be a beautiful car and worth whatever it would cost to restore maybe with an upgrade to brakes, cooling, a/c. Quiet exhaust. Definitely not the rat rod route. Deserves respect. Full retro on interior and the rest. Love it.

  5. Bob Member

    That would be clear coat over RUST! Can it get any less attractive? This is a Fleetwood. She deserves to be beautiful. That will require a total restoration. Being a Cadiman, I sure hope someone saves her.

  6. Paul Grumsha

    Put a late model LS CSTV 6.2 Supercharged drive train, great natural patina as opposed to artificial patina in a body shop.

  7. Gavin Tittle

    Get it drivable, stop it from rusting, and drive it just like that. That thing is beautiful

  8. Allen Member

    These ’49s are, to me, the most elegant of all Caddys. And particularly in four-door form. I don’t hear many folks agreeing with that. It’s just my take. And, of course, restore it! It doesn’t need more power to optimize what it is. I might add A/C…

    • That Guy

      I agree. I like these as 4-doors almost as much as the fastback coupes. In any body style they still looked elegant, not bloated and ponderous like the next generation.

      This car looks straight, complete, and original. It’s deserving of a restoration. Rat-rod or resto-mod something that’s further gone.

  9. Allen Member

    From a purely aesthetic point of view, there is something they got so perfectly right on this model. The balance of all the curves – it’s all so elegant. It doesn’t want to be lowered or slammed, or chopped or anything. It’s perfect just the way it is. You wouldn’t want somebody altering the Mona Lisa either.

    Four is the proper number of doors for this car. I believe it was designed to look good primarily as a four-door. The other body styles look good, but not as good to me. Interesting that you mention the fastbacks. I don’t know if they made any four-door fastback Caddys, but they did on the same shared body style on the Chevys. I had a ’51 Chevy four-door fastback and that design always looked weird to me. The fastback only looked “right” in the two-door. Otherwise it was only a half-fastback.;-)

  10. Todd Priest

    I’d clear coat it and drive it. A few mods here and there of course.

  11. Allen Member

    Just remember the primary rule of auto restoration: First, do no harm.

  12. stillrunners

    Yep…just mechanics and go !

  13. Del

    Nice. Couple years work on your ow for mechanical.

    Then get a repaint.

    Beautifull old car

  14. Kevin Tapply

    I texted with the owner today. Hasn’t tried to rotate the engine. Could be a huge needle swinger in cost if the motor is locked up. If engine and transmission is bad it would drive a tough decision on repowering and potentially drive the decision to restorod vs, restore. There is some rust through below the trunk and above the bumper. Can’t see it clearly in the photos so I would like to believe it’s NBD. Window glass is cracked and passenger side window won’t go up (how much moisture gets in through that open hole? With the minimal amount of work to create a credible genuine example your likely looking at $10k on top of the asking price. As I said earlier a body off rotisserie restoration is going to run in the $80k range. Way more than this car is worth IMHO.

  15. Miguel

    First of all, is the carb original? It looks tiny on that engine.

    Also, if I was going to look for a ’49, it would have to be the first year Coupe De Ville.

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