Now here’s quite a street-side find; two quite disparate cars. And one sporting a mattress, no less. Roll-over protection?
Well, Toyota FJs aren’t exactly that uncommon, especially on the West Coast. But a street-side ’49 Caddy is a bit out of the ordinary, even for out-of-the-ordinary Berkeley, where Nicky D spotted these two. The ’49 Caddy sports the grandaddy of all modern American ohv V8s under its hood; that does give it a bit of claim to fame.
Sad to say, we’ve never done a proper CC on this milestone car. Except for the new engine, it’s not much different from the ’48, but the engine did make a huge difference in performance, efficiency and even handling, given how much lighter it was than its predecessor.
The new Cadillac V8, along with the rather similar Olds V8, was the template for every modern American OHV V8 that followed, right to the present day. It was powerful, compact, smooth, and efficient, and everyone scrambled to either copy it blatantly (Studebaker), or hopefully improve upon it, which was not easy, as many soon found out (Ford Y-Block comes to mind).
Is there a more influential engine in the modern era?
Isn’t the 2015 Corvette Z06, 650HP “supercar” powered by basically the same engine? It’s got a whole lot of tech bolted to it but it’s just a good ol American V8 underneath, Right?
Same basic idea, with a few important upgrades along the way.
Clarification: I did say “idea”, not the same basic engine.
The Corvette engine’s ancestor is the Chevrolet small block, which is similar to the Cadillac in many respects (not surprising given that both were developed under the leadership of Ed Cole). One big difference architecturally is that the Chevrolet engine had rocker studs rather than rocker shafts (a Pontiac idea introduced there at the same time), which is lighter.
Interesting. It looks like the rocker shaft design shows up in Ford engines a few years later.
The reason I mentioned the new Corvette when I read this post was that the somewhat archaic pushrod valve train was apparently used to keep the center of gravity and the hood low. It highlights the enduring quality of a simple, good design.
A cool and quirky neighborhood, there’s a Honda Insight on the street too. Love the Caddy.
How did the flathead Caddy V8 compare to the Ford flathead?
Was the Caddy version as smooth and reliable as the ad for the new OHV version states?
As far as I know, the Caddy flathead V8 had a sterling reputation; I’m not aware of any weaknesses or issues. Unlike the Ford, its exhaust ports exited on top, alongside the intakes, which means it wasn’t prone to the overheating like the Ford was.
But it was massive and heavy, and ripe for replacement.
My father had a 42 Caddy. I remember that in order to really hear the engine at idle, I had to stick my head out the window. Very quiet. It may have been a chauffeured car because it had a three speed on the column.
I remember riding to southern California in 1949 or 1950 in my uncle’s 1937 LaSalle which had a similar engine, and it vapor-locked in evening rush traffic on the Columbia River bridge at Portland. With the location of the exhaust ports it seems that this could have been a likely problem with this engine. I will say that there were no other problems with the car on that trip.
The outgoing Cadillac V-8 was really quite a good engine by most accounts, and less cantankerous than the smaller and cheaper Ford. The 346 wasn’t dramatically less powerful than the OHV engine either, although the latter was clearly the more efficient engine (both in specific output and specific fuel consumption): 160 gross horsepower and 312 lb-ft of torque from 331 cubic inches compared to 150 gross horsepower and 283 lb-ft for the 346 cid L-head. The older engine was also quite under-square and had only three main bearings, so the OHV V-8 was much more suited to continuous high-speed use.
My Caddy history books says the new engine was 188 lbs lighter at 699 lbs than the flathead, but was 14% more efficient (about 2 MPG’s) and required less cooling making the overall weight about 220 lbs less.
Just wow! I love these antidotes to the Brougham-tastic-era cars!
I believe that version of the Toyota was called a Land Cruiser. It was basically a copy of the American Jeep. Toyota Land Cruisers eventually became huge and heavy luxury SUVs. Toyota introduced the modern FJ Cruiser as a way of sort of getting back to basics, but it was still nowhere near as basic as the original. It was canceled this year. I never saw any version of the Land Cruiser as being a classic.
As for the Cadillac, what can I say. I would be very proud to drive around in that.
I think a lot of people would disagree with you on the Land Cruiser not being a classic! The FJ40 has a near-mythical reputation, and the later versions right up into the ’80s have qutie a following.
The Cadillac, though, is unquestionably the star of the scene! It could really use a set of hubcaps and some whitewalls (maybe not chronologically perfect but they’d sure look good) but other than that, good to go.
I guess it’s easier to transport the mattress on top the Toyota than on the Cadillac.
Or is it permanently attached to the Toyota??
I guess that makes it a canvas top!!
I’ve seen pictures of fringe-top taxis in Bermuda that, to me, always looked like they were using a rug for a roof. Maybe this is the logical cousin to those?
That is called a ” Surrey Top ” .
Had a 50 Olds which was basically the same as a 49. The Olds, as you say, was very similar to the Caddie. IIRC it was a 303 and the Caddie was perhaps 20 cubes larger. If memory serves me well, that engine could have been right at home in a much more modern vehicle. Smooth and powerful. Curiously I remember it’s main competition being the totally outdated Hudson flathead six.
It was, as you say, a milestone.
The Cadillac engine was 331 cubic inches (5,425cc), the Oldsmobile was 303.7 cid (4,977cc). The engines weren’t the same design, although they were similar in many respects.
Nice ! .
There’s a similar Caddy parked in South Pasadena , for years it sat in the driveway then finally got re painted red and curb parked , no matter what time of day or night I drive by it’s just sitting , they’ve never washed/waxed it and now the brilliant red paint is gone flat like this one you pictured .
That generation of Corolla that is behind the caddy is now reaching CC status. The 93 and 94 qualify as historic cars in maryland and in about a few weeks the 95 Corolla will also. I was in 10th grade when the 1993 Corolla came out and it was worlds apart from the boxy 1992 it replaced. Good gas mpgs and reasonably comfortable to ride or drive and now the thing is over 20 years old. I am getting old (sigh)
I always remind myself I am too old when I dont feel cars from ’80s are old.
And particularly the first time you see a car from the late ’90s with historic vehicle plates…
Here in VA a car has to be 25 to qualify for historic (or, as they put it here, “antique”) tags. So we haven’t seen them on post-1990 vehicles quite yet, but even so it’s odd to think my ’88 Volvo qualifies.
The Caddy’s exhaust manifolds look just like the Corvette’s!
Thanks for running my photos Paul. The Cadillac also had some amusing bumperstickers that made me consider all the various owners it must have gone through since new. Also very Berkeley.
forgot to add photo to above comment
I owned a grey ’48 Cad Fleetwood longboot sedan from 1989 to 2011. It was a street sleeper though as it had a 365 with twin four barrels and a gold batwing filter from a ’56 Eldo Biarritz! Conversion apparently carried out in ’56 by a Cadillac dealership in Pensylvania before the car was eventually imported to GB.