2013 Detroit Autorama: Jim Noteboom’s “Phantom” 1949 Cadillac Station Wagon

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Jim “Bones” Noteboom, of Bones Concept Cars & Trucks in Hemet, California, has been making award winning custom hot rods that have graced magazine covers since he was a teenager in the 1950s. He has a special fondness for longroofs. Among his customs is a Lincoln Zephyr turned into a woody wagon, and his latest “phantom” wagon is based on a 1949 Cadillac Sedanette. Two-door wagons like the Chevy Nomad were popular in the 1950s, which may explain the choice of a Sedanette as the donor car. I’m not sure what kind of station wagon was the donor for the back end, it has a conventional tailgate and hinged window so I don’t think any hearses were harmed in the making of this car. Either way, it looks great. The 1948-53 Cadillac was a landmark design, GM’s first all-new postwar car. Designed by a team headed by Franklin Hershey, under Bill Mitchell’s direction, the ’48 Cadillac was a truly seminal design, it would influence car styling for a decade. Itself influenced by the P-38 fighter plane, the ’48 Cadillac is considered to be the first car with tail fins, an attempt by GM designers to visually raise the back end of the car and give it a more balanced look. The ’48 Caddy was such a successful design that it stayed on the market, with revisions of course, for six years, before going to a completely new body in 1954. Any Cadillac from that era will stand out in a crowd and it’s easy to understand why it’s such a popular car with custom enthusiasts. We like station wagons at Cars In Depth and I’m an unabashed fan of the late ’40s early ’50s Cadillacs so of course I like this car. Cadillac wouldn’t make an actual station wagon for another six decades, when they introduced the current CTS sportwagon, but Noteboom’s custom is good idea of what a factory Caddy wagon would have looked like back then (well, from the cowl back, the front end looks much less “stock” than the rear).

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