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62 Generation 3 Series 48-62 Three position Cabriolet by Saoutchik
For 1948, the Series 62 was moved to the same 126 in (3,200 mm) chassis as the Series 61, making the vehicles virtually identical. The main difference, apart from extra chrome, was the availability of a convertible model. Distinguishing features included grooved bright metal front fender gravel guards, rocker panel bright work, chevron style chrome slashes below taillights and slightly richer interior trim. Also in 1948 the first tail fins were added. Sales fell to 34,213, nevertheless accounting for a record 68% of all Cadillacs sold.
The '48 Cadillac was an instant success with buyers. When dealers first saw it, however, they were apprehensive, and some were downright scared the public wouldn't like it. But any negative opinions the dealers had were soon overshadowed by the public's instant and massive demand for the car. The '48 was the spirit of the P-38 Lightning on wheels -- and it was there to be bought in any Cadillac showroom. With that beautiful line flowing through the body panels, climaxing in the elegant tailfins that gave the effect of making the car look longer, the sheer beauty and simplicity of the car's body took many an onlooker's breath away. The rounded bumpers and curved windshield only added to the car's sleek styling. In 1948, Cadillac was the luxury car to own.
Everyone wanted to copy the Caddy in whatever way they could. Mail order houses did a brisk business selling tailfins that could be mounted on the rear fenders of Fords or Chevys. Design studios around the world adopted various forms of the fin for whatever car was being facelifted. Eventually one could see fins on everything from the Henry J to a Mercedes.
Even the grille of the '48 was new, although it continued the distinctive wide cross-hatch theme. A delicate bow of chrome defined the top line of the grille, while the two inside horizontal bars ran outboard to become the upper and lower borders of the parking lights. The forward-sloping hood provided greater visibility, enhancing the low lines of the car, while the front fenders blended smoothly into the body sides, becoming an integral part of the bodywork (rather than being "tacked on").
The Series Sixty-One and Sixty-Two, actually a bit shorter than the same models of the previous year, each offered a two-door fastback club coupe, or "Sedanet." The almost-a-boat tail coupes of 1948-49 were arguably the most beautiful postwar fastbacks ever built. The Sixty-Ones and Sixty-Twos differed only slightly in trim -- no chrome rocker panel mouldings or front fender stone shields for the Sixty-One, for example -- but shared the same sheet metal and 126-inch wheelbase. Hershey had indeed wrought some magic, because the 50mm-narrower cars were 50mm wider inside, where buyers really appreciated it.
Inside the '48, instruments were clustered quite functionally in a deep pod under the dashboard line that carried through almost to the floor on both sides. Some automotive enthusiasts have called this a "rainbow" instrument panel because of its generous sweep. Functional ducts in the front doors circulated air to the side windows and the windshield, a forward-looking feature at the time.
Despite all the new styling features, the 150-horsepower L-head V-8 and Hydra-Matic automatic transmission were carried over virtually unchanged from 1941-47.
The Series 62 was now on the same wheelbase as the lowest priced line making the club coupe and sedan practically identical to similar models in the Series 61 range, except for trim and appointments. Distinguishing features included grooved, bright metal front fender gravel guards, rocker panel bright work, chevron style chrome slashes below taillights and slightly richer interior trim. The convertible coupe was an exclusive offering in this line.
While Cadillac’s newly restyled Series 62 line for 1948 was an ideal foundation for a true coachbuilt show car, it was nearly impossible to procure a bare chassis from Cadillac, which was striving to supply its dealers with finished cars. Nonetheless, connected insiders were accommodated by the factory, and it is well known that two bare Series 62 chassis were built and sold by Cadillac for 1948. It is also known that Tommy Lee’s Don Lee Cadillac in Hollywood, California, arranged with Roger Barlow of International Motors in Hollywood for at least one (486237307) to be sent to Saoutchik in France for Louis Ritter. That was the sister car to the more elaborate Three-Position Cabriolet offered here: chassis 486234577, also by Saoutchik. Extravagantly designed and beautifully finished, both cars shared Saoutchik’s avant-garde design language, including artful bumpers, sweeping front fenders, and brilliant chrome trim preceding each fender. While generously proportioned, the size of these vehicles was skilfully minimized with skirted fenders and use of colour to counterbalance the cowl height.
One of these Cadillacs’ early devotees in America was Strother MacMinn,the highly influential designer whose career included 50 years on the faculty of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. Mr. MacMinn had photographed one of the cars circa 1950 at an event held at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, and he vividly recalled its striking colors and painted cane work accents. “What a sweeping, dynamic design! The ideal combination of brilliant French craftsmanship and a refined, bullet-proof American chassis,” MacMinn wrote of the fabulous lavender Cadillac.
Due to their basic similarities, some confusion has long existed between the Saoutchik-bodied 1948 Cadillacs. However, thanks to painstaking research and documentation amassed by Peter M. Larsen of Denmark in his recently published and exhaustive book, Jacques Saoutchik, Maître Carrossier, photographic evidence confirms that this car, chassis 486234577, was indeed Saoutchik’s 1949 Paris Salon car. However, it was not, as has often been written, the car commissioned by wealthy New York furrier Louis Ritter with the assistance of Hollywood dealer Roger Barlow.
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