Cadillac hit its post-World War II stride in 1949 with a new overhead-valve V8 engine an advertisement called 'its greatest engineering achievement in 45 years.' The new V8, which was in production for 14 years, powered nearly two million Cadillac's and greatly improved performance. The 1949 pillar-less Coupe DeVille was, along with the companion Buick Riviera and Oldsmobile Holiday, the first mass-produced American hardtop. This term describes a modern automobile styled to resemble a convertible, but with a rigid top. This example is a 'one-off' custom creation built by Coachcraft in 1949. The wheelbase is shortened approximately 12 inches, and a formal roofline is adapted to the coupe body. The trademark 'tailfins' have been shaved to give the car a completely different personality.
The Harley Earl designed Cadillac Series 62 was a very large vehicle that featured a large, 6,390 cc (390 cubic inch) V-8 engine. The back had large fins that did little for performance and handling but was all about the style of the vehicle. The design of the vehicle was inspired by the space program and the era of jet engines. The large, 4400 lb car was fitted with drum brakes. These often wore out quickly. If a U-turn needed to be made, the driver would need a parking lot. The turning radius was 24 feet.
The name 'DeVille' would first be used in 1949 on the Coupe De Ville, and later on the 1956 Sedan deVille. The 1942, 1946 and 1947 versions were similar; they were completely different from the 1941 bodystyles.
The car was a luxury vehicle that could carry six individuals comfortably. The car was a convertible with the top being raised and lowered automatically. The interior had electrical gauges. The head lights would turn on at dusk and were also capable of switching from high beam to low beam when they sensed oncoming traffic. In total, there were eight lights on the front of the vehicle. The four on the top were the driving lights while the lights mounted on the bumper were the parking lamps. To add to the driving comfort, air suspension was used. This aided in providing a very soft ride but there was significant body roll when cornering. With the V8, it was capable of creeping to sixty in 11 seconds. This reinforced the notion that this Cadillac was built for comfort and not for speed. The drivers enjoyed the ride and they looked good cruising along, enjoying the large open road.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2008