1949 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible: Sweet Pearl
Photo credit: Steven Bunker
Her name is “Pearl” and she makes over 950 Horsepower. We would expect nothing less from Harold Chapman’s team. Chapman has an impressive collection and has built an array of cars at his Customs and Hot Rods of Andice (CHRA) shop in Texas, but when building his wife Tracy’s 1949 Cadillac, Harold and his team pulled out all the stops making this ragtop Caddy comfortable, stylish, potent and reliable!
Tracy Chapman loves the hot rodding lifestyle so it comes as no surprise she had little trouble dreaming up her perfect car. After riding along on the Goodguys 2013 Hall of Fame Road Tour with her husband in their ’33 Ford, she was eager to do another road tour but wanted something with a little more comfort. After seeing a 1949 Cadillac at their hometown Goodguys event in Ft. Worth, Tracy knew she had to have one. Harold found a nice survivor car in North Carolina and hooked up the trailer to go get it. It was a clean black and white on red starter car. Tracy wanted it to be blue and white, and Harold wanted it low. With those details out of the way, the build started in earnest.
A custom Roadster Shop chassis was ordered with RS front suspension and a Detroit Speed steering rack. A parallel 4-link RS rear suspension and 9-inch “Wave Track” locker rear end were used out back., 14-inch Wilwood disc brakes ride on all four corners and are tucked nicely behind the 18-inch Triple Cross Dayton wire wheels with custom built one-off knockoffs. The CHRA team then stretched the chassis 3-inches and spent a lot of time adjusting the ride height and wheelbase until they got the Pearl’s stance perfect.
The Model 62 Convertible Cadillac body was in good enough shape when the car showed up from North Carolina, but countless hours were spent on the final fit and finish. Extensive work was done to the bumpers both front and rear with the exhaust being integrated to exit out the rear bumper. The license plate was also recessed into the rear bumper and it flows into a custom louvered belly pan. The engine bay is another work of art with a custom firewall, fender wells, core support cover, blower cover (yes, we’re getting to that part) and a custom master cylinder lid. Glasurit Custom Pearl was the paint of choice for the build, hence the nickname “Pearl” and was sprayed in-house at CHRA.
The heart of this custom Caddy beats extremely strong. Starting with a Donald Hardy 454c.i. LSX, a Magnuson MP2300 supercharger was added. The result? A walloping 950 ponies! Greening Auto Company crafted up some custom valve covers for the modern Chevy big block and a GM LS9 based ignition tuned by The Car Shop lights the fire inside. Full-length 1-7/8-inch handmade custom polished stainless headers bolt to the cylinder heads while a 3-inch full stainless exhaust system breathes through not one, but two sets of mufflers. It takes a heavy duty transmission to handle over 950 horsepower so the Chapman’s dialed up Mark Bowler to commission a “built” 4L80E transmission with SFI approved flex plate.
When the top goes down jaws drop, too. The interior is something you have to see! Tracy got the white she wanted on the exterior of the car and her request for blue was fulfilled on the inside. Custom distressed Italian leather by Relicate is wrapped over the seats as well as inner door panels. A 1948 Cadillac dash was fitted as well as a ’48 shift lever, knob and steering wheel. The wood trim on the door panels and the dash isn’t wood at all, it was gracefully airbrushed by Gasoline Art.
Classic Instruments worked with the 1948 Cadillac gauges and customizing them to read up to 160 MPH. The dash was also fitted with a map light, cigarette lighter, custom machined A/C bezel and a motorized speaker grill door that nicely conceals the Vintage Air A/C controls, switches for the heated seats and an Alpine head unit. Amidst all the blue are more of that delicious Glasurit white pearl on the steering wheel, shift knob and top half of the dash.
As beautiful as it is and with so much time and hours put into it, some may think Pearl doesn’t see the road too often. They would be wrong! With only 60 miles on the odometer, Tracy and Harold loaded up the Caddy, not even a week after being completed, and headed for Loveland, Colorado from their home in Andice, Texas over 950 miles away. From there the two of them joined our Goodguys 2015 Hall of Fame Road Tour and trekked over to Bowling Green, Kentucky – adding another 1,800+ miles to the smooth sailing convertible. After which, the two headed home to Andice and put another 900+ miles on the Caddy. Pearl logged 3,600 hiccup-free miles just days after being finished, Tracy at the wheel the entire time. It’s a testament to the vision and quality work done at CHRA. For Tracy Chapman, she has a perfect new four-wheeled friend. The open road and many more fun adventures await!