The story below was written by my good friend Rik Hoving who runs the Custom Car Chronicle. Rik and I share a great appreciation for both custom cars and sport customs. Those of you interested in these kinds of cars should visit his website via the link below:
For me this story goes back to 2010 when I was well into my research into Sport Custom Cars in America. As I dug into this subject, I was surprised and impressed to see a wider variety of designs being built in the late 1940s and early 1950s than I had ever seen before. What I was witnessing during my readings was a consolidation of designs – agreements in styling methods and other types of convergence on “what” would be a “custom car” and “what” would be a “sports car.” Rudy Makella’s WOW Cadillac jumped out from the pages of magazines when I first saw it.
As you’ll learn in Rik’s story below, Rudy’s and his family owned a power hammer company – what we know call a metal shaping company. They were located in Indianapolis, Indiana and built custom ordered/modified ambulances, hearses, limousines and more. Rudy was a young man at the time working for his father’s company when he decided he wanted to create a custom car of his own design. Starting with an early 1940s Cadillac convertible, Rudy created an entirely new body for it – one in which the entire front clip rolled forward to reveal the engine when needed. A unique design and a unique car. Worthy of attention the first time I saw it in the magazines. Then I found the real deal.
In 2010, Stephen Lisak had posted photos of the car he had found nearly two decades before and saved from a junkyard. With a bit of research, I confirmed what the car was and shared it Stephen and his wife Mary – the nicest folks you’d ever hope to meet. Over the years we became fast friends and late in 2018 I bought the car.
Back in 2014, Rik Hoving worked with Stephen Lisak to create a story about Stephen’s car – the WOW Cadillac. Recently I asked Rik if we could share his story of this car with our readers here at Undiscovered Classics and today’s story is the result of Rik saying “yes.” Thanks Rik! So away we go.