(from December 2003)

Photos by Sam Trent, story by Michael B. Kelly

Tampa, Florida resident Doug Kenny’s classic car infection happened at an early age. Before he even had a driver’s license, his first car was a 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe at the age of 13. From there rides included a ‘32 Ford roadster with a flathead, and a ‘34 Ford. However, for a while he had been looking for a bigger car that would offer a bit more long haul comfort for he and his wife Debbe. After spotting a Caddy at the Street Rod Nationals years ago he made his decision, and next up was the 1948 Cadillac convertible you see here built by Keith Mastriforte and Jim Calandra of Special Cars Only in Oldsmar, Florida.

Underneath the frame was smoothed and treated to a combo of paint, powder coating, stainless steel and chrome. C4 Corvette suspension was used in the front and rear, with a Corvette rack and pinion unit, disc brakes, and 3.73 posi rear end also adapted. Power, however, come from a Lincoln Mark VIII 4.6 liter dual overhead cam V-8 dressed in a set of custom valve covers and mated to a Lincoln 4R70W transmission. Custom inner fenders were fabricated, all the plumbing and wiring was hidden, and the exhaust received ceramic coating.

The body received more work than many might notice upon first inspection, but it all comes together as a cohesive package. The hood was sectioned two inches and modified to increase strength to facilitate closer seam tolerances. The hood, trunk and doors were shaved for the clean look that abounds. The headlights are now 1954 Cadillac units, while the parking lights were switched to ‘55 Buick assemblies. The stock grill was molded in place, and the front bumper is now a reshaped ‘56 Chevy at its heart. The rear was given plenty of attention by removing the chrome, fitting the fender skirts, straightening the distinctive rear fins, and cutting the stock bumper to match up with the rear fenders, which are now molded to the body. Jim Calandra then applied the super straight Lexus black paint, which was accented by 1956 Cadillac Sabre wheels modified to fit the Corvette bolt pattern and covered with P225/70R15 BFGoodrich whitewalls.

Inside the dash was filled and smoothed, and is now home to Auto Meter gauges in a tidy front-and-center cluster. Cadillac Sedan Deville 8-way power seats were cut down to fit and modified to fold, while the rear seat needed to be custom fabricated. The door panels also needed to be custom built, and along with the dash are home to molded in Porsche air vents where the Vintage Air blows cold breezes. The stock power window mechanisms were modified to use electric linear actuators, and an Olds 98 steering column is now topped by a late model Cadillac steering wheel. Rudy Bailey is responsible for the custom upholstery, which consists of Conley leather and Wilton wool carpet.

The car was completed about six months ago, and is everything that Doug and Debbe Kenny wanted in a luxury cruiser. In addition to getting lots of attention at the shows it has also already garnered some award to boot. Among them were a Custom Rodder Top 10 and Boyds Pro Pick at the Columbus Goodguys show, a Rod & Custom Top 10 at the Street Rod Nationals, the Southern Rodder Pick at Knoxville’s Shades Of The Past, plus a Pros Pick at the recent Southeast Street Rod Nationals in Tampa. However, one look at the smiles on Doug and Debbe’s faces as they chatted with friends at the show it was obvious that while awards are always flattering, it isn’t the driving force behind the enjoyment of their cool Caddy. CN