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Cadillac 60 Special, Blue, for sale in Warrensville Heights, Ohio, for $25,900.
Only routine service items have been replaced, but otherwise, it is 100% as the factory built it.
Introduced in 1938, Bill Mitchell’s lovely Cadillac “60 Special” was a game-changer. Designed to be a smaller, more personal Cadillac, it was an instant icon with simple styling that eschewed many of the contemporary styling cues and instead went for restrained use of trim and a clean profile. That this same body style endured almost unaltered for years is proof that the design was sound, and the 1941 model was perhaps the most successful of all. With long fenders that extended into the doors, heralding the post-war designs, and a significantly longer nose for ideal proportions, it’s no surprise that the 1941 60 Special is not only a Full Classic, but one that is appreciated by enthusiasts who love to drive.
There was a time not too long ago when this all-original 1941 Cadillac 60 Special would have been summarily torn down and restored from the ground up. Today, however, many enthusiasts have a different perspective, and erasing history and originality is almost universally acknowledged as a mistake. This car was purchased new in 1941, and for nearly 25 years, the original owner returned to that same dealership to have it serviced. In fact, he even insisted on the same mechanic each time he brought the 60 Special in. Upon his death, the car was willed to that mechanic, who kept it for another 30 years using it sparingly and always treating it as if it were something special. The current owner is that mechanic’s brother, who came to own it 15 years ago, creating an unbroken chain of ownership and care extending back to Day One.
The car is stunningly original. Only routine service items have been replaced, including the battery, tires, hoses, belts, and spark plugs. Otherwise, it is 100% as the factory built it, including all original paint and a spectacular interior that has been protected by fitted seat covers since it was new. The car has never been rusty or damaged, and since the 60 Special was one of the last GM cars to use structural wood in its construction (woody wagons not included), the wooden sill plates are still in outstanding condition. The Antoinette Blue paint is about what you would expect for the era, with a soft shine that only vintage lacquer can offer. There is some microblistering as well as a few scratches and other signs of use, but it is not sufficient to justify a repaint. A professional color sand and buff will likely be all that is required to make it highly presentable and attractive without diminishing the originality of the finish.
Most of the chrome is nicely preserved, including the critical egg crate grille that defined Cadillac for decades, which shows almost no pitting. The hood ornament and bumpers are also excellent, but remember that this is 1941 production chrome, which is considerably different from today’s expected show chrome process. The hood grilles show some light pitting that might be buffed out and are probably the weakest point on the car, but fortunately, replacements are common to other models should it be your desire to replace them. The stainless trim is also nicely preserved, with an appropriate soft shine that mirrors the condition of the rest of the car, and all the glass is unquestionably original and showing only light delamination around the edges.
The striped gray broadcloth interior is the jewel in this car’s crown. The seat covers that have protected the seats for more than 70 years remain in place, but careful peeks underneath reveal upholstery that’s miraculously untouched and in splendid condition. Things like the door panels and carpets are also very good, although the driver’s footwell is somewhat threadbare today. What it needs most is a thorough and professional cleaning, which will surely restore it to 80-90% of its original glory, but a full restoration is ill-advised. Also note that the woodgrained dashboard is beautifully preserved, and all the gauges are fully functional and intact. Even the plastic steering wheel and matching knobs are in very presentable condition, a testament to how carefully this car has been stored out of the sunlight. The radio is not functional, but does show the original radio station call letters on each preset, a feature that has been digitized in our new cars. It even appears that the original owner’s warranty card is still in its slot on the passenger’s front kick panel. This car is loaded with every possible option available in 1941, including Hydra-Matic transmission, fender skirts, a back-up lamp, fog lamps, heater, defroster, radio, and a windshield washer system. The floors are completely rust-free and solid, and even the trunk area still wears its original burlap-type coverings and carries a wide whitewall spare tire that’s never been used.
Cadillac’s reliable and smooth 346 cubic inch flathead V8 was the only choice in 1941, but it delivers modern performance and splendid road manners. The 66,242 miles shown are surely original, and the engine has never been opened. Like the interior, it shows dirt and signs of use, but all the critical parts are still there with no modifications or questionable upgrades over the years. It starts easily and runs smoothly with a crisp burble from the replacement exhaust system that was surely installed decades ago. The 4-speed Hydra-Matic automatic shifts properly and once the car is in top gear, it will cruise at modern highway speeds effortlessly, which is why they are such popular tour vehicles. The chassis is completely rust free, and as I mentioned, the wooden sill plates are solid and show no signs of rot or damage. The tires are ancient Allstate bias-plys in the correct size, but a replacement set of wide whites would make this car truly sparkle.
The car has been recently serviced and found to be in excellent mechanical order, starts easily, and idles smoothly. The transmission shifts as it should, and the car has that undeniable “all of a piece” feeling that only original vehicles can demonstrate. It’s hard to quantify, but more and more enthusiasts are discovering that nothing else feels as right as a well-preserved original car.
With “barn finds” becoming the auction industry’s latest marketing tool, we have been hesitant to do more than give the car a modest cleaning, allowing the next owner to decide how to best proceed with refurbishing. In my opinion, this car needs little more than a heavy-duty cleaning for the interior, a light cut and buff of the paint, and a new set of tires to be ready for HPOF judging, and would make a spectacular tour car for any CCCA Caravan. With an impeccable pedigree, an interesting history, and stunning originality, this handsome 60 Special will undoubtedly be the talk of every event it attends.
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Engine:346 cubic inch flathead v8
Location:Warrensville Heights, Ohio