1941 Cadillac: Simply irresistible

Staff reports
Farm Forum

“I didn’t look for it,” Manning Clagett says. “It came to me.” He is referring to the handsome, gleaming black 1941 Cadillac Model 63 parked in his driveway. While visiting a friend, an acquaintance drove up in the sedan and said he had owned it long enough. Clagett promptly spoke up and said that he wanted it.

The Cadillac had 57,000 miles on the odometer. The interior was original and virtually like-new, a testament to a lifetime of being garaged. The pair quickly worked out a deal, and Clagett drove his 4,140-pound Cadillac home.

The only problem was that Clagett had previously bought another antique automobile, and his wife wasn’t fond of an excess of old cars sitting around. Clagett hadn’t informed his wife about the Cadillac, so he did what any husband would do — he hid the car in the barn.

This car couldn’t be kept a secret for long. Soon, sons, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and cousins all knew about the car in the barn — everyone except the wife. In an effort at damage control, Clagett came clean. After the dust settled, he sold the other antique car to keep peace in the family.

Beneath the hood of the Cadillac is a 346-cubic-inch, 150-horsepower flathead V-8 engine. A strip of chrome on each side of the hood conceals an egg-crate pattern of 48 openings to help vent heat generated by the engine. The original owner evidently did not order the optional fog lamps. The openings to hold such lamps are filled with a pair of blanks. Accessories on the car include Cadillac crest fender skirts and turn signals, as well as a seven push-button radio, spotlight, and heater.

The symmetrical wood-grained dashboard features a clock at the right end the same size as the 100-mph speedometer at the left end. Unbelievably, the original dash and side window frames are in great, unfaded condition. The two-spoke steering wheel doesn’t have any cracks. The elegant Cadillac is dressed up with three horizontal chrome strips on all four fenders. The two-piece windshield frame, unlike the other windows, is chrome-plated.

Clagett takes delight in asking admirers of the Cadillac to find the one thing that is not stock: No one ever guesses the chrome gravel guards protecting the rear fenders. He says they should be rubber; however, the previous owner, in removing them when the car was painted, found the rubber was hard and falling off the metal backing. Consequently, he had the backing plates chrome plated. They look great, especially with the small hubcaps accented by the trim rings. Two chrome vertical division strips visually separate the rear window into three pieces.

Sitting inside the rear passenger compartment is like being in a time warp. Even the robe rail on the back of the front seat isn’t the least bit frayed. Pulling the center armrest down into a horizontal position from its normally hidden position in the seat back exposes no fading or wear on any of the upholstery.

At the rear of the car, the left taillight housing is hinged so it can be opened to disclose the hidden gas cap. Inside the trunk, the spare tire stands ready for use in a vertical position on the right side. The trunk lining is in superior condition, but has obviously hauled some items that marred the fabric.

When Clagett bought the Cadillac, the previous owner gave him a new trunk liner, which he has yet to install. He does have plans to address pesky little tasks, and the trunk liner is one of them.

When the Clagetts celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, the entire clan convened — and how did the principal participants arrive? In the back seat of the Cadillac with their grandson at the wheel.

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