Neal O'Neal's 1934 Cadillacs (from September 2003)

Photos by Sam Trent, story by Michael B. Kelly

South Florida resident Neal O’Neal has worked on automobiles since he was a teenager, and has an affection for big cars with long hoods. This lead him to building two very unique 1934 Cadillacs in his shop at home, which are equally unusual since there are very few hot rodded Caddys like them around.

In fact, Neal’s 1934 Cadillac Convertible is one of only 12 made! Take into account the attrition that occurs through the years and you can understand how few must still be left. Neal bought the car from north of Indianapolis, and did all the necessary fabrication himself with the help of Wayne Warner. The 136 inch wheelbase includes a nova sub-frame and a Ford Explorer rear end, with the car weighing in at 4,625 pounds. Under the hood aptly resides a 472 cubic inch Cadillac engine backed by a 700R4 overdrive automatic from Fourth Gear in Apopka, Florida. Disc brakes on all four corners provide plenty of stopping power, while items like air conditioning, power steering and power brakes aid in cruising comfort.

The exterior retains the elegant stock lines, and is covered in a silky smooth black paint job by John Hobby. Rare bi-plane bumpers were used, which were only made by Cadillac one year, and include springs to cushion collisions. Inside you’ll find machine turned stainless dash inserts, a tilt steering column topped by a banjo style wheel, and black and gray leather upholstery with subtle red accents by DJ there’s a matching rumble seat out back.

Neal’s latest ride is a 1934 Cadillac 5-Passenger Sedan, which was brought back from Pasadena, California and given the same treatment as the convertible. It also has a long 136 inch wheelbase, Nova sub-frame, Ford Explorer rear end, power steering, 4-wheel power disc brakes and air conditioning. The exterior was again painted black by John Hobby to match the convertible, and complemented by the bi-plane bumpers along with a set of 17 inch Wheel Vintique rims. The interior has an art deco theme, with a painted wood grain dash, machine turned dash inserts, and upholstery by DJ’s done up in black leather with inserts that includes woven stainless steel in the cloth for a unique look.

For this Caddy, however, you’ll find a 502 Chevy crate motor lurking under the long hood, which produces 500 horsepower to easily propel the 4,800 pound package down the road thanks to a 700R4 by Fourth Gear. Brand new the ‘34 Cadillac Sedan sold for around $3,000, which when compared to the approximately $450 asking price for a Chevy puts the price in perspective. Today however, much like the Master Card ads airing on TV, all the costs involved in making it a pristine custom cruiser add up to something that is indeed priceless to Neal and those that have enjoyed seeing it. Of course, he can only drive one car at a time, and sometimes that’s where the dilemma lies. CN