1949 Cadillac / New Post War Design

The 1949 Cadillac was among the first new design series since the outbreak of World War Two. Nothing was redesigned for civilian automobiles during the war and when the war ended in 1945, automakers began building cars that were for the most part 1941 and 1942 models. To be sure, the automakers started building civilian vehicles as fast as they could since there was an enormous pent up demand for new cars.

1949 Cadillac

1949 Cadillac

The New Post War Cadillac

The 1949 Cadillac came in a Sixty-One model and a Sixty-Two Model. The 1949 Cadillac featured in this article is a Sixty-One.

The newly redesigned Cadillacs, the 1948 and 1949 models, were considered some of the most elegant automobiles of that period with smooth flowing lines. The new design also sported a tail fin that housed the tail lights. Fins would become a trademark of Cadillacs for years to come. The 1949 fin you see on this model was nothing like what Cadillac would unveil at the end of the 1950′s.

1949 Cadillac’s had larger grilles, larger hoods along with grooved extension panels housing the front parking lights and chevron slashes below the tail lights on Series 61 coupes. It’s known that one way to tell the difference between a 1948 Cadillac from a 49 model was that the 48 had one back up light on each side.

1949 Cadillac Sixty-One

1949 Cadillac Sixty-One

Some have said that the 1949 Cadillac was the most beautiful Cadillac of them all. The Sixty-One Series Cadillacs were considered to be a bit lighter and faster than the Sixty-Two’s.

The Sixty-One’s were priced a few hundred dollars lower than the Sixty-Twos and did not offer a convertible in their line.

The Sixty-One Series Cadillacs were offered in a four door sedan model or in a coupe. In short, the 1949 Cadillac Sixty-One was somewhat less flashier than the Sixty-Two and had a relatively plain interior for a Cadillac. That was the chief criticism of the 1949 models from those who wanted to criticize the car. Aside from that it was hard to come up with anything else. Nonetheless, it’s new post war design was a real work of art and it represented the quality that buyers would expect from Cadillac.

Another major design change would be seen again beginning with the 1950 Cadillacs.

1949 Cadillac dashboard

1949 Cadillac dashboard

1949 Cadillac Model Sixty-One Specifications

The name of the game with the 1949 Cadillacs was engineering. General Motors fully understood even before the war that the current power plant needed replacing. Ernest W. Seaholm, head of Cadillac engineering, began work on the new engine even prior to Pearl Harbor. Seaholm retired in 1943 and his successors completed work on the engine that would debut with the 1949 Cadillacs.

The engines for the 1949 Cadillac Sixty One was a 331.1 cubic inch Overhead Valve V-8 delivering 160 horsepower. These were new engines from Cadillac which were designed with high performance and smooth and quiet operation in mind.

The engines were so highly thought of that almost stock Cadillacs were seen on the racing circuits including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. Cadillac actually entered two cars in this race in 1950, one being a stock coupe and the other a roadster with a hand made body. The coupe finished in 10th place and the roadster in 11th. Truly another new milestone for Cadillac.

1949 Cadillac

1949 Cadillac

The car was advertised to go from Zero to 60 in about 13 seconds with the manual transmission and in about 14 seconds with the automatic.

Advertised fuel consumption was about 11.5 MPG with the automatic and about 12.5 with the manual transmission. The low gas mileage had a lot to do with the car’s weight of about 4,100 lbs.

Top speed for both the Sixty-One and Sixty-Two models was claimed to be 100 MPH.

The 1949 Cadillacs offered either a three speed manual transmission or a four speed automatic. The automatic was named the Hydra-matic.

The 1949 Cadillac had a wheelbase of 126.0 inches which was shortened from the 1947 model, a length of 213.9 inches and a width of 78.9 inches.

Cadillac new design rear window

Cadillac new design rear window

Production in 1949 amounted to 22,000 Cadillac Sixty-One models and 55,000 Sixty-Two models. Both of these figures were up from 1948. The year 1949 was also when Cadillac produced it’s one millionth vehicle. The three top brands produced in 1949 was Ford with 1,118,000 vehicles and Chevrolet with 1,010,000 units. In distant third place was Plymouth with 520,000 vehicles built.

New car price for the 1949 Cadillac Sixty One was in the range of $2,800 to $3,200. As a comparison, a 1949 Pontiac Chieftain was priced around $2,200 and a new post war designed 1949 Lincoln, the first since 1932 without a V-12 engine, was priced in a range of $2,600 to $3,000, very similar to the Cadillac pricing.

Two additional photo articles on AutoMuseumOnline you’ll find interesting include…

1941 Cadillac Series 62

1931 Cadillac V-16

A few good books on the Cadillacs include Cadillac Automobiles 1949-1959 by author R.M. Clarke and The Cadillac Century by author John Heilig.

Cadillac's new post war design tail fin

Cadillac’s new post war design tail fin

1949 Cadillac Collector Car Prices

The 1949 Cadillac, both the Sixty-One and Sixty-Two models, are popular collector’s cars. Both the 1948 and 1949 models have significance because they were the first new design since before World War Two.

Both 1949 models are considered rare and retain or increase their value.

As of this writing, average auction sales prices for the Cadillac Sixty-One is in the range of  $35,000 to $45,000 with some models selling higher. The Sixty-Two model has garnered about $55,000 on average with some models selling quite higher such as the Convertible Coupe and the 1949 Coupe de Ville. The Coupe de Ville was just like the convertible except with a steel top. The Coupe de Ville was also the car that represented Cadillacs’s one million vehicle production milestone in November of 1949.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)


1959 Rambler American

The 1959 Rambler American featured in this article was a product of the American Motors Corporation. The compact Rambler American was considered one of the lowest priced automobiles in the United States. This car model was manufactured from 1958 to 1969.

1959 Rambler American

1959 Rambler American

The 1959 Rambler American by all means was a compact car. It was among the first generation of the new American Motors Ramblers. The 1959 Rambler American was not really changed much at all from the 1958 model aside from some cosmetic touches.

Building the Compact Four Seater

American Motors Corporation understood that a lot of money was spent on smaller foreign imports during the 1950′s and one answer to that was their imported Metropolitan. The British built Metropolitan was a two seater and the Rambler American, while a small car, was a four seater.

The first idea from American Motors on where to start with the compact four seater was to make the imported Metropolitan into a four seat car but the extremely small wheelbase of the Met made that difficult. The small Metropolitan itself, the car that Lois Lane drove on TV’s old Superman television series, was produced until 1962.

Rambler American

Rambler American

The Rambler Name in History

The Rambler automobile actually first came upon the scene in 1900 produced by the Thomas B. Jeffery Company of Chicago. This was the same company that manufactured the Rambler Bicycle. Charles Nash acquired the Thomas B. Jeffery Company when he left General Motors in 1919.

The Rambler name was then used again from 1950 to 1954 by Nash Motors and then was reintroduced in 1954 by the American Motors Corporation after the Hudson Motor Car merger with the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. This was one of the largest mergers up to that time, valued at about $200 million. When Nash produced the new Rambler in 1950 the car was very well received. The 1950 Nash Rambler cost about $1,800. About 11,500 Ramblers were built by Nash in 1950.

American Motors Corporation and Hudson Cars and Competition

As mentioned above, the creation of American Motors Corporation was one of the largest mergers up to that time.

Rambler American dashboard

Rambler American dashboard

After the merger the Hudson brand started to fade. Hudson’s problems were economic. The Hudson mid to high priced big cars which were their real sales strength suffered from lack of redesigning to keep up with the competition. The lack of adequate redesigning was due to their poor cash position in the early 1950′s.

The real problems of American Motors was it’s competition from the Big Three in Detroit. The recession that hit in 1957 made matters a bit worse. American Motors strategy turned to compact cars like the Rambler American. The company had the tooling in place from the earlier Nash models so the reintroduction of the Rambler was not near as costly as it could have been.

Rambler Becomes a Marquee Name

Starting in 1958 the Rambler became a marquee name itself where prior it had been models under both the Nash and Hudson brands. Many motorists who had a Rambler American would likely say that while the car was very plain, it ran good and was dependable with no major problems. The major selling points promoted by American Motors for the compact new Rambler were it’s low price, great fuel mileage and it’s relatively low maintenance costs. It was also touted as an alternative to foreign imports, in other words, a made in America car.

1959 Rambler interior

1959 Rambler interior

Rambler Models

The Rambler automobile models offered during the late 1950′s were the shorter wheelbase Rambler American, the 108.0 inch wheelbase Rambler Six and Rebel V-8 and the 117.0 inch Rambler Ambassador. Among the American models was a two door station wagon which was added in 1959. A four door station wagon was offered with the Rambler Six line. In all, there was a variety of eleven different Rambler models offered for the 1959 model year.

1959 Rambler American Specifications

The 1959 Rambler American came with a 195.6 cubic inch six cylinder L-head engine.The engine would deliver 90 horsepower with the car’s top speed at about 85 MPH.

The 1959 Rambler was a very close match to the 1955 Nash Rambler with it’s 100.0 inch wheelbase.

1959 Rambler American grille

1959 Rambler American grille

A three speed manual transmission was offered along with an automatic.

Both front and rear brakes were drum.

Changes in this model from the 1955 Nash included a new grille design, a larger rear window, rear wheel wells were cut out rather than skirted and the trunk lid was flattened. In general, the new generation of Ramblers were modernized a bit with more chrome and quad headlights. The 1959 Rambler was of the first generation. Second generation Ramblers would be introduced in 1960.

During 1959 a total of just over 91,000 Ramblers were produced. This included all models and was a big increase over 1958 numbers. The two door sedan models totaled about 30,000 units.

Additional AutoMuseumOnline photo articles you’ll find interesting include…

Nash Metropolitan

1959 Autobianchi

1959 Rambler American

1959 Rambler American

Ramblers as Collector Cars

rambler automobiles are excellent collector automobiles and probably the most popular model is the V-8 powered Rambler Rebel. You might find the Rambler Rebel with a 250 cubic inch, 215 hp four barrel V8.

Recent asking prices for the 1959 Rambler American in excellent condition is in the $13,000 to $17,000 range. The 1959 Rambler Station Wagons are in the $19,000 to $28,000 range depending on original parts and degree of restoration. All of these prices are theoretical asking prices. As with all collector cars, what a final sales price is depends on the exact model and finding the right buyer.

The Ramblers also can be fun restoration projects. Non restored chassis and body’s in a variety of conditions are very possible to locate and at usually cheap prices.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)