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Author Topic: Pictures---1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed  (Read 926 times)

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

  • Posts: 1433
  • Name: Jeff Rose
Good morning
I have seen a few of these "help me I don't know what I am looking at" adds and sometimes chuckled to myself. Well, I now find myself in the same situation. 
We have been looking for a car for my kid and he has gravitated toward 50's models. One thing led to another and we found this. It is the first car he actually liked enough to go and see. And, it's a Cadillac. It has all happened fast so I have not been able to do much research in advance.... so I am asking all of you.
I am somewhat comfortable with 60's and 70's but admit I know nothing about 50's. I don't know how to tell if it is the correct engine/trans, trouble areas, is this a year to avoid, what hi dollar items to check-you know the rest.
May not be the best kid car but we will end up with a 50's something anyway so obviously I want it to be a Cadillac. It will be driven in all weather and may sit outside (cringe) at times too. I don't want it to be perfect because it will be a kid car. He will be using his own money on this (and mine too) so want it to be priced such that we can get out of it if it turns out to be a pig without losing our shirts. I don't want his first old car experience to be a bust because it may turn him off of old cars all together.
We are going tomorrow morning.
Any and all opinions welcomed and appreciated.
Thanks
Jeff

https://columbiamo.craigslist.org/cto/6113088691.html
« Last Edit: June 11, 2017, 06:15:41 AM by Jeff Rose CLC #28373 »
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

Offline goofyhb

  • Posts: 75
  • Name: Axel Joehnke
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2017, 07:49:14 AM »
This car is for sale some month now. It looks mostly original but does show some overspray. It will have been painted at some point. The rear bumber edges are totally rusted and are not cheap. The front grill looks damaged as if the car ran into a wall with the left Dagmar. You have to check the frame and general alignement.
The trunk looks quite good for the age but is missing the jack, the wooden block and the wrench(?). The interior is looking original. The dome light glas is broken (replacement available). The interior is trim code 43 on the data tag. The paint is Dresden Blue code 24. The shift lever knob is incomplete.  The cracks on the steering are quite common.
Possible rust and mechanical issues would make a long list.
Parts ain't cheap compared to a Chevy.
The 62 Sedan has lost some value according to Hagertys.
1955 Series 62 Sedan http://bit.ly/1Ri914p

Offline stzomah

  • Posts: 73
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #30309
  • Name: Wayne Elder
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2017, 09:59:26 AM »
Let me share my story...  I was 16 when I saw a blue 55 SDV sitting in my neighborhood car lot.  Driving age is 17 in NJ.  I really could not get over the attraction I had for that car!  My Mom was out shopping at the are mall one night and saw this white 56 coupe for sale on the road.  She followed it to it's home and talked with the man who owned it.  We bought it and I have had it ever since.  That was 42 years ago.  I spent every weekend wrenching it and learned auto mechanics and how to work with my hands.  It was used as my daily driver for 5 years.  I used it for my prom, my first date, my wedding, and my son and daughter's proms...

Also check out YouTube Corvette Ben 56 Sedan Deville restoration.  He has over 50 videos on his project.  He is not quite as young as your son but he is another young guy that loves 50's Cadillacs.  Ben is also a member here.
1956 Series 62 Coupe
owned since 1975

Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2017, 10:30:38 AM »
I have had 16(!) different 1949 through 1956 Cadillacs, including several 1955 models.  Of all of them, I find the 55 models to be the best overall cars.  Not the simplest, but overall the best.  Here's why:

49-51 models have the Carter 2bbl carbs, which perform great with few troubles (and little propensity for vapor locking).  52 and later used the 4bbl carbs which are more troublesome and more prone to vapor locking. But 55 carbs were better worked out than earlier 4bbls (say compared to 52).

Beginning in 53, Cad went 12v.  That means easier starting (sometimes!) and the ability to run a normal modern radio. 

Beginning in 54, Cad went to plastic coated wiring, which lasts much better than the cloth covered wiring (which is a fire hazard sometimes).

Also starting in 54, the power in power windows and seats was all electric, instead of hydroelectric.  Huge plus.

Horsepower increased from 160 in 1949-1951 to 250 in 1955.  Lots of power in 55.

Transmissions generally got better from 49 to 55.  55 is the last year of the regular HydraMatic before the sometimes dreaded Jetaway of 1956.  55 transmissions have steel rings on the big pistons, instead of the rubber seals, and last indefinitely.  So if the transmission in a 55 is working well, it probably will work well for a long time. 56 transmissions are often sloppy shifting and waste more gas (of course, when right, the 56 transmission is smoother than the earlier years).

56 models run hotter than 55 and earlier, owing to even more horsepower and the same cooling system as the low horsepower 49-51 models. (Cad fixed this in 57 with improved radiator design).  But the 55 runs hotter than earlier years, although it is not terribly prone to overheating.  55 is the most prone to vapor lock among the 49-55 models.

55 had standard power brakes that stop the car well.  From 49 to 52, brakes were manual. 

55 has standard power steering.

55 air conditioning (optional) is improved over the 54 version (notably in the clutch on the compressor).  55 heating, defrosting and ventilation is very good.


For simplicity, you can't beat a 49, 50 or 51 model.  But overall, as a practical car, I like the 55 models probably the best.  BTW, yesterday I made a deal to buy a 55 Fleetwood...
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2017, 11:56:25 AM »
Oh, and one more thing.  All of these cars (49-55) are very good mechanical machines.  They run well, the transmissions are smooth and efficient, the brakes work well, etc.  They are rather reliable when put in good nick (as the Brits would say).  There is a good bit of hidden sophistication in the mechanical systems, sophistication that can be hard to notice 50 years later.  But it is there.  If the cars are restored to a very high level mechanically, they are excellent performers.  When one ignores how the car was designed in doing maintenance and repairs, the results are often unsatisfactory.  Careful attention to the Shop Manual usually pays big dividends.

Worst part of these cars are not the engines (bullet-proof), but the peripheral stuff associated with the engine (fuel system and ignition system).  For example, today's cars have fuel injection which is much more tolerant of crappy gasoline (saddled with corn alcohol) than a carb and mechanical fuel pump.  The dreaded vapor lock usually occurs because of a perfect storm of bad fuel, high atmospheric temperatures, weak fuel pumps, improperly set float levels, and an engine that is running a little hot.  Mix all of that together and voila! one can get left stranded...
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

  • Posts: 1433
  • Name: Jeff Rose
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2017, 12:25:10 PM »
Thanks guys.
Anything special to look out for on these? Not sure if can get it to run and if so or even not, is there anything to check on the trans?
We (I) am obviously going to have work to do- I realise that. We are just not prepared to throw a ton of money into it as this will be closer to top of the budget we have for a project car.
Anything you see in the ad that scares you? Does the price look like something that is reasonable for its condition ( in other words, if we find ourselves in over our heads can we get ourselves out)?

Thanks a bunch for the help and advise.
Jeff
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

Offline goofyhb

  • Posts: 75
  • Name: Axel Joehnke
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2017, 12:48:18 PM »
My 1955 was in nearly the same state, but the interior was beyond repair. My bumper ends were better. I paid $7500 3 years ago. At least the same amount was invested to stop it from rusting, keep the rain out and make all necessary things work as they should. I live in Germany, so it is a bit harder to get good used parts at a low price. A 55 CDV in better condition (paint, chrome interior) was offered for $10500 two month later, but I am watching the offers every day and such an opportunity has not appeared again. The better car is the better deal in the end.
I had to replace all window and door rubber. This was around $600 without rear window, windscreen and trunk rubber. The engine was worn out, so you could see it burning oil on acceleration. The pistons had to much play in the cylinders. I have to rebuild the engine and probably the trans as well. In the moment I have installed a engine and trans from a 1962. This was not as easy.
The steering gearbox can be worn out, or the drag link, or the idler arm. If so, when you go over a railroad crossing the wheels will move independently for a very short time. I still need to work on this.
The drum breaks are good and strong when the vaccum break booster is working well. If no break booster is installed you need way longer to stop the car.
The vacuum system has several trouble points. The vacuum pump is in the oilpan and sitting on the oilpump. A steel line should go up at the passenger rear side of the engine. A rubber hose goes from here to the vacuum manifold on the firewall. There is a valve in the steel line which should prevent that the vacuum sucks oil from the engine. This valve some times get stuck. Oil gets in the intake... The vacuum manifold is also a valve getting vacuum from the pump at full throttle or a little less, at lower throttle the vacuum comes from the intake. Typically the rubber inside has disintegrated, so the vacuum wiper motor will not work well. The vaccum antenna will not move, the vacuum washer pump will not work. If you connect the hose from the intake to the wiper motor directly wipers will at least work when you lift the foot from the gas...
The 1955 engine is mechanically strong. The valve lifters get noisy when the oil level is at the low mark. Compared to the Jetaway the Hydramatic makes you feel the shifting, but it is not that complicated. You could manually shift it or use the kick-down when fast acceleration was needed.
The engine rear main seal can be an issue when the car has sat for a long time. If the surface on the crankshaft had rusted you might need a speedy sleeve.
Some folks say that the heads tend to crack but my opinion is that this is more common with the 56. On a car that has rested for a long time you should open the freeze plugs and clean out all the mud and flush the radiator.
The engine normally uses SAE30 non detergent oil as it has only a bypass oil filter. So regular cleaning of the oilpan is needed.
You will not find a carpet for the 1955 62 4dr. Only for Series 60 or Coupe. The upholstery material is available at SMS.
Overall the 55 is my favorite design. Engine Power and the way the transmission works give you a lot of fun. The power steering makes you drive with two fingers. Each bench has enough room for three. The trunk is enormous. 20 gallons sounds small for the tank, but the mileage you can get is quite good for such a heavy car. My car has the Rochester 4GC carburetor, but you can also find a Carter.
Hope you can make a good deal on the car so that another one will not be scrapped.
You should find the engine number on the front of the passenger side of the block, just below the head. It should start with 55 for a 1955. The Vin number is found on the frame also on the passenger side. You will need to clean the frame there to be able to read it. The Vin should start 5562 with the engine number to follow on a numbers matching car. The data tag is on the passenger side on the top of the firewall.


1955 Series 62 Sedan http://bit.ly/1Ri914p

Offline Bob Kielar

  • CLC #25656
  • Posts: 354
  • Keep Cruzin
  • Name: Bob Kielar
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 03:56:22 PM »
You can get the correct carpet mine came from acs but it's best to call them and send your originals to them for a template/pattern. My upholster just ordered from there catalog and they were wrong they took them back no problem. He sent my originals to them and they came back fitting perfectly with the correct loop cost was about $475.00.

Keep Cruzin
Bob Kielar
Keep Cruzin
1955 Cadillac Fleetwood

Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 06:18:29 PM »
"You can get the correct carpet mine came from acs"

Bob, do  you mean ACC carpet?  I am not familiar with ACS carpet...

Art
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline goofyhb

  • Posts: 75
  • Name: Axel Joehnke
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2017, 02:44:55 AM »
You can get the correct carpet mine came from acs but it's best to call them and send your originals to them for a template/pattern. My upholster just ordered from there catalog and they were wrong they took them back no problem. He sent my originals to them and they came back fitting perfectly with the correct loop cost was about $475.00.

Keep Cruzin
Bob Kielar

Hello Bob,
it looks like you have a Series 60 not a 62. As I said they offer only carpet for Series 60 or 62 Coupe or Eldorado. I ended buying a medium blue loop carpet for a 56 4dr, but  they only offer it for the SDV. So that carpet has bigger cutouts at the B-pillar, is the wrong style and colour. But at least I bought it with a 50% discount. So it is okay for now, but I would love to have the correct blue, and correct pattern one day.
It would be great if the club could start a database to collect which products are available and correct for each model. I have read about wrong parts included in overhaul kits so many times now. I can only order online and have to rely on the suppliers information if the part fits my model.
If I get a wrong part shipping and customs are making it useless to return such parts.
Best Regards
Axel
1955 Series 62 Sedan http://bit.ly/1Ri914p

Offline goofyhb

  • Posts: 75
  • Name: Axel Joehnke
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2017, 04:36:36 AM »
If you are going today, take your time and maybe check out this offer which came up 8 hours ago:
https://kansascity.craigslist.org/cto/6165575431.html
It is only 2 hours away from the car in LaPlata.
As I understand this will be exceeding your budget, but could at least work as a reference.
1955 Series 62 Sedan http://bit.ly/1Ri914p

Offline chrisntam

  • Posts: 1279
  • Dallas, Texas
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #29206
  • Name: C. Jessen
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2017, 04:08:19 PM »
Choose #2,  You'll be LOTS of money ahead.

 ;)
1970 Deville Convertible  MTS 507
Dallas, Texas

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

  • Posts: 1433
  • Name: Jeff Rose
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2017, 08:51:54 PM »
Too late.
Nobody tell me we made a wrong choice please.
Will post pix.
Jeff
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

Offline goofyhb

  • Posts: 75
  • Name: Axel Joehnke
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2017, 01:49:08 AM »
It is never wrong to save a old Cadillac! ;)

And the pictures of #2 were changed and now you can see that the paint has aged on that car too.

If engine and trans are mechanically okay, the most expensive parts will be the bumper ends and replacing all the solid rubber and seals.

Please post many pictures as this car is nearly a twin of my car. My VIN starts 5562124xxx.



1955 Series 62 Sedan http://bit.ly/1Ri914p

Offline stzomah

  • Posts: 73
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #30309
  • Name: Wayne Elder
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2017, 07:12:19 AM »
CONGRATULATIONS on getting a piece of automotive history.  Your son will never forget it or you!  I remember my dad driving my 56 before I got my license.  There is a song by Mark Cohen called "Silver Thunderbird" that says it all (although it does disrespect Eldorado's a bit!).
1956 Series 62 Coupe
owned since 1975

Offline Bob Kielar

  • CLC #25656
  • Posts: 354
  • Keep Cruzin
  • Name: Bob Kielar
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2017, 09:06:33 AM »
Oops thanks for the correction Art it is ACC. I would think that if you have the originals to send them they will make it.
 Congratulations on your purchase you will make a lot of memories.

Regards,
Bob Kielar
« Last Edit: June 08, 2017, 09:12:03 AM by Bob Kielar »
Keep Cruzin
1955 Cadillac Fleetwood

Offline jdemerson

  • 1952 Cadillac 6219X Vermont -- Emerson
  • Posts: 349
  • Very large collection of Cadillac sales brochures
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #26790
  • Name: John D Emerson
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2017, 04:46:25 PM »
I have had 16(!) different 1949 through 1956 Cadillacs, including several 1955 models.  Of all of them, I find the 55 models to be the best overall cars.  Not the simplest, but overall the best.  Here's why:

49-51 models have the Carter 2bbl carbs, which perform great with few troubles (and little propensity for vapor locking).  52 and later used the 4bbl carbs which are more troublesome and more prone to vapor locking. But 55 carbs were better worked out than earlier 4bbls (say compared to 52).

Beginning in 53, Cad went 12v.  That means easier starting (sometimes!) and the ability to run a normal modern radio. 

Beginning in 54, Cad went to plastic coated wiring, which lasts much better than the cloth covered wiring (which is a fire hazard sometimes).

Also starting in 54, the power in power windows and seats was all electric, instead of hydroelectric.  Huge plus.

Horsepower increased from 160 in 1949-1951 to 250 in 1955.  Lots of power in 55.

Transmissions generally got better from 49 to 55.  55 is the last year of the regular HydraMatic before the sometimes dreaded Jetaway of 1956.  55 transmissions have steel rings on the big pistons, instead of the rubber seals, and last indefinitely.  So if the transmission in a 55 is working well, it probably will work well for a long time. 56 transmissions are often sloppy shifting and waste more gas (of course, when right, the 56 transmission is smoother than the earlier years).

56 models run hotter than 55 and earlier, owing to even more horsepower and the same cooling system as the low horsepower 49-51 models. (Cad fixed this in 57 with improved radiator design).  But the 55 runs hotter than earlier years, although it is not terribly prone to overheating.  55 is the most prone to vapor lock among the 49-55 models.

55 had standard power brakes that stop the car well.  From 49 to 52, brakes were manual. 

55 has standard power steering.

55 air conditioning (optional) is improved over the 54 version (notably in the clutch on the compressor).  55 heating, defrosting and ventilation is very good.


For simplicity, you can't beat a 49, 50 or 51 model.  But overall, as a practical car, I like the 55 models probably the best.  BTW, yesterday I made a deal to buy a 55 Fleetwood...

Thank you, Art, for an excellent analysis. Even as the owner of a 1952 Cadillac, I agree in all respects with what you have said here. This information should be very helpful to anyone who is considering becoming an owner of a 50s Cadillac.

John Emerson
1952 Cadillac 6219X
John Emerson
Middlebury, Vermont
CLC member #26790
1952 Series 6219X
http://bit.ly/21AGnvn

Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2017, 07:28:59 PM »
Thank you, Art, for an excellent analysis. Even as the owner of a 1952 Cadillac, I agree in all respects with what you have said here. This information should be very helpful to anyone who is considering becoming an owner of a 50s Cadillac.

John Emerson
1952 Cadillac 6219X

John,

You are quite welcome.  And BTW, the styling cues and lines of a 52 Cad are lovely...

Art
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline Jeff Rose CLC #28373

  • Posts: 1433
  • Name: Jeff Rose
Re: 1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2017, 06:13:14 AM »
Thanks for all your help guys.
She's home now.
I'm going to have a LOT of questions. And yes, I ordered a manual.
Jeff
Jeff
CLC #28373
1970 Coupe DeVille
1955 Series 62

Offline kkkaiser

  • Posts: 129
    • CLC Member
      CLC Member #30660
  • Name: Kaiser
Re: Pictures---1955 prebuy advise-any and all opinions welcomed
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2017, 09:23:56 AM »
that thing is HUGE!!!  i hv never thought of the size but with you three people next to it,, jeez,,,,like a tank

 

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