VIP Sponsors


Kadillac Kustoms and Rods

Kadillac Kustoms and Rods


HOT ROD HOTLINE was passing by Milwaukee, Wis. on June 26 and realized the Cadillac LaSalle Club's ( Grand National Meet was taking place there.  So we swung off the highway, never expecting to see anything but purist cars. Boy, were we wrong!

Cadillac LaSalle's "companion car" was the first car to come out of GM's Art & Colour Section in the '20s and ever since then, Cadillace has been leading edge when it comes to styling.  In the '50s, the company lifted styling motifs from West Coast "kustomizers" and turned its production cars into "factory hot rods".

Not everyone would consider Bob Gariepy's 1921 Cadillac a hot rod, but it really is in a true "old school" sense.  Bob rescued the rusty tub from years of outdoor storage and decided to turn it into a 1920s Electric Line Truck because he was in the utility business for years.  His truck has a "hotter" 1926 Caddy engine and a wooden body that he and his son built.

Jake Jakus of Dousman, Wis. must have watched "Alice's Restaurant" too many times as his 1955 "El Caddy" custom pickup is very similar to the Cadillac flower car that folk singer Arlo Guthrie drove in his 1969 film about how a littering arrest got him out of the Vietnam draft.  Guthrie's car had cool porthole windows, but Jakus' "petal pusher" is still pretty groovy.

Jakus also brought another custom creation to the Cadillac show - a super-stretched 1959 tail fin Cadillac.  Nicknamed "Mint 59," the unique creation uses a GM "flat top" station wagon roof welded to a stretched Cad chassis.  An unusual thing is that the stretch panels are added between front and rear doors that are about four feet apart.  And the car is two-toned in light gold and white.

There were also a couple of famous custom cars at the Cadillac show thanks to dream car collector Joe Bortz of Chicago.  Joe brought two cars from his dreamy collection.  The 1955 LaSalle II is what we call a "factory concept car" today, but you have to see it in person to get the full effect of its small size.  It reminds us of a Chevy Corvair and it has a fake overhead cam V-6 engine.  Bortz rescued it from a junkyard in Michigan where GM sent its cut-up show cars.

Bortz's second car is a custom creation called Die Valkyrie that was built on a 1954 Cadillac Eldorado chassis.  This car is considered a 1955 model and was styled by industrial designer Brooks Stevens.  It was actually built in Germany by a coachbuilder named Spohn.  After it toured shows in America and Europe, Stevens bought the car for his wife to use.  Legend has it that the V-shaped front end was intended to emphasize that the car has V-8 power.