Year & Model:
1949 Cadillac Fastback

Member Name:
Tom Musson

Location:
Yorba Linda, CA">

Year & Model:
1949 Cadillac Fastback

Member Name:
Tom Musson

Location:
Yorba Linda, CA

Car Facts:

I have been "Jonesing" for a 49 Fastback for years. I bought a basket case and spent a thousand here and a thousand there but soon realized that it would cost in the $70 to $80K range to get a real great car out of it, so I gave up and put it in Hemmings where it sold to a fellow in Kentucky.

Ed Cholakian of Las Vegas knew about my hopes for a 1949 Fastback and offered me a 48 Sedanet. Not the same thing but close. Would require major drive train change and more. No dice. (Little did I know that I'd ultimately be doing the drive train anyway.)

Ed then called and announced that he had been selling parts here and there to a nice lady in Plainview, Texas (near Amarillo) and that I should call her  -- you never know about these things, so I did. 

Mary Lou Haygood answered the question "what # owner are you?" with this. "I don't know what you mean, I got the car as a graduation present my senior year in high school.  She faxed over the title for me to inspect and yes sir, original date was June 26, 1949 and her name was on it. She is now 78 years old and was "frankly getting tired of putting all this money in this ol car".

Her grand son emailed over some photos and I went for it. She then put some Texas charm on me and said "A car dealer here in Amarillo offered me $16 for it but Ed said that the offer is too low, what do you think?"

I said Ed is right and paid her $20K sight unseen. Then I arranged for shipment.

When it arrived, it was clean and looked almost as good as it does now, except the chrome was trashed. But looks aren't everything. It wouldn't start (fuel pump was shot), until we primed the carb and then it ran so rough that it shook. (6 or 7 cylinders, that's why). I drove it down my street and hit the brakes which went to the floor. Upon later inspection, no brakes at all. Shoes worn to nothing and the drums were scoured down to being out of shape entirely. I later found out that Mary Lou hadn't driven the car in years. 

But here's the best part. When I tried to steer onto the main road (cause I couldn't stop), the steering wheel turned but NOT the wheels. Turned out later that the steering box was stripped nearly empty of gears. Now the idea was to get the car back into the transporter and forward it to Corona to Jon Lightning, mechanic extraordinaire.

And that started me on the road to an additional $24K. New everything. Just to name a few, (not counting the major stereo and CD). Coker Radials, disc brakes, all new front end, (tie rods, uppers and lowers, bearings, steering box, springs, knee action shocks, stainless exhaust system, new rear end gears, shocks, leaf springs and lots more). Engine also needed a head job. During the high pressure purge process, the water jackets blew holes because they were rusted thru meaning I had to find new heads (from San Diego) then get those rebuilt with new valves and hardened seats. I must have been calling Ed three times per week just to get advice. 

I was also fortunate to get some parts finding and machining help from Dale Armstrong in Temecula. He stepped right up and proved invaluable regarding the motor heads, intake manifold and 4 bbl carb.

Then when my mechanic was done and proud of his $9K job (with $4+K  parts at a club discount  from Ed  and some from others), we took it on a shake down cruise and we heard a big bang -- trans cover fell off along with all the red fluid. Where to get a trans. My friend Tony said "go to my guy near WATTS". So I rode with the flatbed to the trans shop and had to take a bus home. $600 for a trans (from a 53 which has an extra gear), and $3 more K for the rebuild and install and another bus ride to Watts and I've now got a sweet car.

I removed all of chrome by myself. The grill was the toughest to remove. It was "asphalted" in place, (large deposits from road building in the hot summer in Texas). Broke lots of bolts. Took everything off and sent it to OC Plating which did a great job. Then I bought all new stainless bolts and fasteners, (even found a place that made me some barrel nuts -- screws which are hollow and threaded on the inside which are needed for the directional and back up lite chrome rings along with the Vees and Crests).

One thing the lady from Texas did that was extra nice. She got a new steering wheel made and had it done to exactly match the outside paint. In 49, steering wheels came in 3 flavors: bone, black and grey.

Next will be an all leather and dark wood interior.  I can't wait !!!