Al Lauer's 1941 Cadillac
1941 Cadillac restyled by Harry Westergard for Al Lauer of Sacramento, California in 1948. The car was bought new at J. Jacobs Cadillac in Sacramento, California by Richard Smith's father who was a bookie by trade. He sold it to Al, which owned an Indian motorcycle dealership in Sacramento. In 1948, the Cadillac was caught in a flood. Harry Westergard was a nearby auto & body man, so the natural choice was to have him repair it. Harry figured out since the car was torn apart, why not do some customizing to it at the same time? Harry removed the door handles, shaved both hood and decklid, and filled the hood sides to give it a cleaner appearance. A set of 1948 Cadillac rear fenders were installed to the body, which along with the fully fadeaway fenders gave it a smoother and sleeker look. The license plate was recessed into the deck lid as well, a typical 1940s custom trick. The front end was modified by installing a set of 1947 Cadillac grille and bumpers. 1941 Buick side trim were added to give it more physical length The windshield was chopped and a padded top by Hall Upholstery was fitted. The dashboard and steering column were fully chrome plated. Al's custom was never published in any early publication, maybe it did not get as much attention it deserved because it was always covered in primer.
Time passed by, the car changed hands several times, and when Hub Johnson of Chico, California bought the car from Tom Ball of Orangeville, California in 1987, it was residing on a turkey farm in Roseville, California. Hub paid $3,500 for it. By 1991, when Steve Woodburn of Danville, California bought it, the price had risen to $10,000. Famous custom car collector Kurt McCormick of Imperial Missouri tracked it down, Steve had owned it for about four years. In the course of their early conversations, Kurt realized Steve wasn't really interested in selling the car outright but might be up for a tempting trade. He also discovered that Steve had a real passion for Joe Wilhelm cars and that level of trade could be the key to this deal. Luckily, Kurt knew Wilhelm's widow was ready to part with the Mark I Mist 1936 Ford coupe, so he purchased it from her, and used the Mark Mist as bait. Kurt's plan worked, and in 1997 he became the owner of a genuine Westergard custom.
When Kurt got to the car, a lot of the original Westergard work was still in place. The top covering was gone, so was the drivetrain. The interior was in a shambles. One side had some serious body damage. This was the real deal, Harold Bagdasarian, George Kutavinis and Dick Bertolucci all identified it. This was no simple scuff and buff restoration, the car needed everything. Kurt and Bill Klein had to reconstruct one of the fadeaways that had been destroyed in an accident, but for the most part, the original work was intact and ready to go. Strange Motion Rod & Custom Construction in Cambridge, Illinois repaired the body and made it fit way better than they did back when it was first built, better fit and finish. They repaired some rust out spots from the years of storage, and they also had to repair some poor repairs done to it through the years. The Hall top had to be completely reconstructed, including the framework. During the process, it was slightly redesigned to remove a bit of bulk from the rear C-pillar area, and then Jamie Rice of Yakima, Washington re-covered the framework. Since the body never was painted after its custom treatment, Kurt came up with a DuPont Salsa Red Pearl base/clear that had the richness he was looking for. Tim Strange at Strange Motion Rod & Custom Construction painted the body.
Dave Martinez of Indianapolis, Indiana stitched up a complete new interior. The original seats and door panels were covered in rolled ivory-and-maroon-trimmed vinyl, the floors in Black English wool carpet, and the headliner in ivory vinyl with plenty of chrome trim. The dashboard was re-chromed and fitted with refurbished original instruments and provisions for the air-conditioning vents behind the open grillwork in the dash. The steering column was re-chromed and fit with a restored Pontiac steeringwheel. The brake pedal was from a 1955 Cadillac and the gas pedal originated from a vintage boat.
The frame was boxed with square tubing crossmembers constructed to give additional strength. New engine mounts were welded in place in able to mount the 1962 Cadillac 390-cid mill, fit with Wilcap adapter, Detroit Racing dual-quad manifold, 1957 Dodge WCFB carburetors, Hy-Power air cleaners, finned aluminum coil cover, and a set of Pribble finned aluminum valve covers. The original front suspension was completely refurbished along with the Cadillac front brakes. The stock rear springs were de-arched to get the right ride height and a set of Air Ride airbags were added to the rear suspension to compensate for additional loads when traveling and to aid when tire changing is necessary. Kurt installed a B&M 700-R4 GM transmission with a lockup converter which was hooked to a 1958 Pontiac rearend with 3.23:1 gears and Quarter Master axles was bolted to the new springs and the rear drum brakes rebuilt.
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