Late 1940s Cadillacs have been popular with customizers since the 1950s, when they started hitting the used car market and other than rich folks could afford them. Small wonder that they were popular, as the ’48 Cadillac was a landmark design, the first all new postwar Cadillac, the first modern Cadillac. Cadillac’s modern OHV high compression V8 would be introduced a year later, in many ways establishing Cadillac as the leading luxury brand in the minds of many consumers. While the ’48 Packards sold well, their “bathtub” styling didn’t age well and the Cadillacs simply looked more modern. With full envelope bodies, sweeping lines, a bold grille up front, not to mention the tail fins, generally considered the first car to feature them, the ’48 Cadillac ushered in an era when car design was consciously influenced by aircraft design. Those fins were supposedly inspired when Harley Earl’s designers at GM, who worked illustrating aviation training manuals for the Army Air Corps during WWII, got an early look at the wartime P-38 fighter planes. The fins are still there on Roger Chesnutt’s custom Caddy convertible, and you can tell that the custom car is based on the ’48 Cadillac, but just about every part of the car has been reshaped, including a radical, but aesthetically pleasing take on those classic tail fins. Chesnutt’s Cadillac was one of the featured customs at this year’s Eyes On Design show.
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