Tag: 1950

When Cadillac built a Monster – Brendan McAleer @Hagerty

When Cadillac built a Monster – Brendan McAleer @Hagerty


Cadillac’s recent entry into prototype endurance racing no doubt raised a few eyebrows. While the company has produced legitimate tarmac-shredders with its V-series offerings, the full-race, prototype DPi-V.R might as well be a spaceship. Powered by a 600hp 6.2-liter V-8, it’s unlike anything that Cadillac has ever done before – right? As it happens, this new beast has a decades old bloodline, one we can trace back to an American racing entrepreneur and a car the Le Mans spectators called Le Monstre (The Monster).

Briggs Cunningham was born in 1907 with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. His father founded the Citizen’s National Bank, and was a director of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Cunningham would also marry into money, wedding the granddaughter of a Standard Oil co-founder in 1930. They honeymooned in Europe, taking in such sights as the Monaco Grand Prix.

Cunningham was athletic and competitive, and he excelled in racing yachts and other well-heeled pursuits. Moving into sportscar racing simply made sense.

At the same time as Cunningham was experimenting with custom-built racers at Watkins Glen, a Milanese-born mechanic and racer named Luigi Chinetti was enjoying success in endurance racing. Co-driving an Alfa-Romeo, he won the very first Le Mans he entered, finishing atop the podium in 1932. He would become one of Le Mans most prolific drivers, competing in every single race between 1932 and 1953. During that stretch he immigrated to America in 1940, remained during the war, and eventually became the first Ferrari dealer.

Chinetti and Cunningham became friends – later, Chinetti would even sell the very first Ferrari in America to Cunningham – and the two bonded over their shared love of speed. No American team had ever competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans before, but Chinetti extended both an invitation and a challenge to his friend. If Cunningham could develop two racing entries, there would be two spots open; if his two cars managed to finish the 1950 race, they’d be invited back the next year.

Cunningham’s first attempt, in 1949, was almost a traditional American hot-rod. At the time, he was very familiar with the “Fordillac,” a custom that mechanic Bill Frick created. Frick made an entire career out of stuffing big, powerful OHV Cadillac engines into smaller Ford bodies, and his creation seemed ideal for racing. Unfortunately, the Le Mans scrutineers took one look and turned the Fordillacs down.

Thus Cunningham was stuck fielding a pair of mostly stock machines. He bought a pair of manual Cadillac Series 61 Coupes, and began preparing them to race. One he kept in nearly factory trim, adding twin carburetors, brake-cooling, and an extra fuel tank for better range. The other became Cunningham’s monster.

Recruiting an aeronautical engineer by the name of Howard Weinman, Cunningham set about creating a roadster version of the Cadillac coupe with radically altered bodywork. The result was tested in a wind tunnel used for evaluating slow-flying aircraft, and a tube-frame structure was added to improve crashworthiness.

The unnamed modified Cadillac looked like a cross between an early WWI tank and a hovercraft. The Le Mans scrutineers couldn’t believe the audacity; however, after hours of looking it over, it was confirmed that the Cadillac’s chassis was stock. The 331-cid V-8 had been tuned to run with five carburetors, but it was still operating within the rules.

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Pot O’Gold 1950 Ford Bread Truck Is a Cummins-Powered Bad Boy with Harley-Davidson Eyes – Daniel Patrascu @autoevolution


Some could say the heavily modified Ford F-1 we have here is one of those that went unnoticed. Fret not, as the thing is now back in the spotlight, on account of it becoming available to collectors on the open market.

As most of you already know, the current range of Ford F-Series trucks traces its roots back to the pickups made immediately after the end of the Second World War. Born as the Ford Bonus-Built in 1948, the first half-ton F-Series was also known as the F-1 until 1952, when the second generation came along and changed that to F-100.

The truck you’re now looking at is part of that first-generation F-1. We’re told it originally came with the usual cab and bed assembly, and a 6-cylinder flathead engine under the hood, running a 3-speed manual transmission.

Like all other vehicles of this kind, it was put to use immediately after rolling off the assembly lines, and received an aluminum box at the rear. That was meant to support the transportation of goods performed back in the 1950s by a Denver, Colorado business called Happy Home Delivery Service.

It apparently served the needs of said enterprise for about 16 years, and then it went on to cater to the needs of a plumbing company. It’s unclear how much it was used to carry plumbing equipment, but it eventually disappeared from The Centennial State’s roads. Like it so often happens with vehicles, it was most likely abandoned.

The truck is one of the lucky ones, as someone came across it in a salvage yard and decided it was worth… a salvage. We’re told that, when found, it came with no driveline, plenty of holes in the bodywork, and an overall decrepit state.

The ones who saved it go by the name Pot O’Gold Kustoms. It’s a crew that’s been around since the early 1980s, presently in the business of making LS swaps, diesel conversions, upgrades, and the works.

In the case of the Ford truck, which was shown at SEMA360, these guys went overboard. Few of the truck’s original parts are still around, and the thing now looks so bonkers it kind of makes one feel it’s time to rush over to Glendale, Arizona, and bid whatever it takes during the Mecum auction taking place there at the end of March.

The work performed on the truck was extensive and included everything from fitting a new engine to the reskinning of the body. As usual, we’ll start from the ground up by letting you know the machine now rides on Detroit Steel wheels. They are sized 20 inches at the front and 22 inches at the rear, giving this bread truck, as its makers call it, a menacing, forward-leaning appearance.

The front wheels are supported by an independent suspension system, while the ones at the back are tied to a narrowed Ford 9-inch rear end with a 4-link suspension. It’s the Airlift system, though, that makes the massive truck capable of sitting so close to the ground when stationary.

Under the hood, the original 6-cylinder flathead has been replaced by a much more potent Cummins 4-cylinder engine. It’s unclear how much power it develops, but all of it is harnessed in controlled bursts by a Turbo 400 automatic transmission.

The bulging eyes of the truck, its projector headlights, are of Harley-Davidson make, while the rear ones come as LEDs. Only the front end of the truck is painted black (in something called Sherwin Williams Blackish Green Mica) to match the color of the wheels, while the rest of the bodywork remains bare metal, creating a delicious disconnect.

It’s like looking at a hybrid between the beautiful front end of a custom, show-ready F-1 and the rear of a hauling machine meant for use in a factory somewhere, with visible rivets and the words Pot O’Gold Kustoms written in an apparently careless manner on the sides.

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1950 Mercury Eight Convertible Flaunts Bored and Stroked Flathead V8, Impeccable Looks –  Aurel Niculescu – @autoevolution


The Mercury Eight series holds the uncanny honor of being the debut line for the upscale Ford division. It was manufactured between 1939 and 1959 over a total of three generations and sat in between the Ford Deluxe (Custom) and Lincoln.

As such, it was produced both before – when it shared its body with the sibling Ford models and after World War II – when it became the first apparition of the new Lincoln-Mercury Division, thus sharing more traits with Lincoln from then on. As such, it is not just a car but also a statement of history.

Anyway, now is your chance to grab hold of it because New York-based Motorcar Classics says it has a classy 1950 Mercury Eight Convertible for sale, with low mileage and a potential craving for best-in-show accolades. Sitting proudly in the dealership’s inventory in classy dark green over tan and dark green attire, the two-door drop-top “has been lovingly refurbished by a late owner.”

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Pick of the Day: 1950 Mercury Monarch six-passenger coupe – Diego Rosenberg @ClassicCars.com


Ford of Canada brands a Mercury mutant

A few days ago, our Pick of the Day was a Pontiac Parisienne, a Poncho unique to the Canadian market. This time, the Pick of the Day is another unique Canadian, a Monarch six-passenger coupe listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Pasadena, California. (Click the link to view the listing) 

As mentioned in the story of the Parisienne, Canada had tariffs on cars imported from the U.S., so several interesting vehicles developed that were only available to Canadians. Additionally, in the case of Monarch, Ford of Canada started a unique brand to give Ford dealerships more breadth of models, especially in a different price class. To you Yankees out there, Canada may seem an equivalent country today but, in the not-too-distant past, Canada was not as well developed as the U.S., and having one dealership with several brands was the norm because it could be miles and miles to the next dealership.

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Randy Breternitz right in his element – Dave Shane @MidlandDailyNews

Randy Breternitz of Midland looks over a 1950 Ford flathead six industrial motor on the grounds of the Midland Antique Engine Association. Dave Shane/for the Daily News

At an early age, Randy Breternitz of Midland became interested in farm tractors and the engines that powered them.

“I grew up on a farm and I was around the stuff early on,” Breternitz said. “I was always working with my hands on stuff.”

Now, after spending 46 years as a truck driver, the now-retired Breternitz is getting all the mechanical challenge he can handle as the property manager at the 13 acres of the Midland Antique Engine Association at 3326 S. Meridian Road. The non-profit club has a mission to spread the history and mechanics of engines, tractors and other large equipment.

The group has about 90 families that are members. Breternitz noted that you don’t even have to own a tractor or engine to belong.

If you like antique engines, “this is the place for you,” he said. “All you have to do is have an interest.

Breternitz has a history of getting old things to work again. He has refurbished both a 1949 Allis-Chalmers Model C and a 1962 Oliver 550. He and his 17-year-old grandson are now tackling a 1953 Ford Jubilee.

He said there are two ways to tackle an old tractor. Some like to make it look almost as nice as it looked the day it was sold. Others like to make it operate, but keep the rust and age just the way they were before it was fixed.

And other club members are more into tractor pulls and competitions.

Breternitz said the club has a refurbished sawmill, a couple of old threshers, a 1913 engine from the Porter Oil Field, a blacksmith shop, a museum and a general store among the many things on its grounds.

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Seeing really is believing – a Tucker did indeed race in NASCAR, and we found the photo to prove it – Jim Donnelly @Hemmings


Joe Merola of Braddock, PA entered the Tucker in the 1951 Memorial Day race
One of the things you learn very quickly here is that there’s never any telling what the Hemmings Nation can uncover, especially on this blog. In that spirit, we present this photo, furnished by Ron Pollock of Niles, Ohio. If the name’s familiar, that’s because we recently posted a photo from Ron’s sold-out 50-year history of Sharon Speedway in northeastern Ohio, which depicted a 1961 Chevrolet bubbletop turned into an uncommonly good-looking pavement Late Model.
Ron checked in again this week. The photo above depicts what may be the only Tucker Torpedo ever used in a racing event. He used the image in another book he authored, a history of Canfield Speedway, a half-mile dirt track that operated between 1946 and 1973 at the Mahoning County Fairgrounds, outside Youngstown. Ron was trying to respond to an earlier question on the Hemmings blog about whether a Tucker had ever been raced in NASCAR. The date on the photo suggests it ran at Canfield over Memorial Day in 1951.

Rudy Makela’s 1950 WOW Cadillac – One of America’s Earliest Custom Cadillacs – @UndiscoveredClassics


Hi Gang…

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:

Click Here To Visit Rik Hoving’s Custom Car Chronicle

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.

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Fox Body Mustang Land Speed Record Car with Turbo 1950 Mercury Flathead V-8 Power – Taylor Kempkes @HotRod


If the title of this Readers’ Rides feature didn’t already give it away, the 1984 Ford Mustang you see here is not your average Fox Body Mustang. Owner Phillip Landry of Lafayette, Louisiana took his 1980s Mustang build in a very unique direction—the car was put together for land speed racing and is powered by a 1950 Mercury flathead V-8 engine that Phillip can switch between a roots-style supercharger and a turbo depending on the event.

“We race this car at Bonneville where we hold the XF/BFALT record at 142.822,” Phillip told us. He also races with the East Coast Timing Association (ECTA) at Wilmington, Ohio, and Blytheville. With help from his friend Damon Braus and brother John Landry, the trio has the car dialed. So much so, Phillip said, “At Wilmington we would change over from a single four barrel to the supercharger setup while waiting in line.” He also added, “Of course I couldn’t do all this without my wonderful, supportive wife Mary.

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Harry Truman’s 1950 Lincoln limo for sale – Larry Edsall @ClassicCars.com


Pick of the Day is a former presidential limousine

Harry Truman’s 1950 Lincoln Limo

The White House ordered up nine specially built 1950 Lincoln limousines and one of them, a 7-passenger Cosmopolitan with coachwork by Henney, is being offered for sale by a private owner on ClassicCars.com.

“Leased to the Government by Ford Motor Co., the 1950 Lincoln Presidential Limousines replaced the aging pre-World War II White House fleet Truman inherited when he ascended to the presidency after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1944,” the seller notes in the car’s advertisement.

“Truman chose Lincoln over Cadillac after GM had snubbed his requests for vehicles during his presidential campaign, which he had been expected to lose. The 1950 Lincolns remained in Presidential use well into the Eisenhower administration.”

Harry Truman’s 1950 Lincoln Limo

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