Cadillac has always been the top tier automotive brand in the General Motors family. They have the biggest cars, the most powerful engines, and the largest price tags. Their symbolism as a product of quality, prestige, and luxury is known throughout the world. This makes them a popular target for hot rodders, low riders, and other customizers.
This particular Cadillac is a 1949 Convertible and was built by Chris Ryan of Ryan’s Rod & Kustom in Ninety Six, South Carolina. I saw it on display at the 2015 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
Now, I don’t hate on hot rod shops for using LS engines. I understand that a lot of the builders at SEMA are also running full time businesses and working on customer cars. Sometimes it’s just easier to plug-and-chug with a crate motor in order to meet a deadline. However, Chris Ryan built this car for his wife Lori. This car was a personal project, and it shows! This is not a customer car, and he wanted to keep it period-correct with lots of old school speed parts. From the sandcast valve covers to the 4×2 Stromberg carbs sitting atop the Cadillac 390 engine, this car is a traditional hot rod built of parts bought, scavenged, and scouted.
As with any good hot rod, there has been a ton of custom body work. A lot of it is things you cannot even see, like building a brand new floorpan or relocating the firewall back a couple of inches. The car has a lovely, clean look thanks to the shaved door handles and trim, and it really shows off the beautiful body lines of this Caddy.
I really like the white and gold color combination, and everything from the body work to the overall vision of the car is just spot on. I don’t think there is a single thing about this car that I would change, and it’s not often that I say that. Congrats to Chris and Lori on an amazing build!
Engine and Driveline
1959 Cadillac 390 V8 Engine
Ultra-rare Horne intake with 4 chrome Stromberg carburetors
Halibrandt Finned Valve Covers
GM 4L70E Automatic Transmission
Ford 9″ Rear End with 3.90 Gears
Flowmaster 2.5″ Exhaust
Suspension, Wheel, and Brake
Fatman Stage V front stub
RideTech 1000 Series ShockWave front suspension
RideTech 8000 Series stainless 4-bar rear suspension
Coker 15″ steel wheels with sombrero caps / Firestone 710-15 Tires
Wilwood Disc Brakes
Body and Exterior
1955 Oldsmobile headlights
Shaved door handles, badging, and trim
Front/Rear bumpers cut and tucked
Molded rear fenders
Front end nosed and decked
PPG Gold Pearl Paint with DCU 2002 Clear Coat
Interior by Chuck Hanna, Hot Rod Interiors, Mooresville, NC
1964 Thunderbird front bucket seats
Custom rear seat
Custom center console
Ididit steering column
2015 Painless Performance/STREET RODDER Top 100 winner
Builder’s Choice award at the Southeastern Nationals in Charlotte