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Projects 1954 Caddy To Build or not to Build (with a 454 big block)

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Ditchdoc220, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    So I have been agonizing over this project for a period of time as I find myself at a bit of cross purposes. Recently I purchased a fair decent and mostly complete 1954 Cadillac. My intent with this car is to keep it 'in the style' of a 1950's cruiser but to feel confident about heading out on a 500-600 mile road trip without the worry of having to search for 60 year old parts in the middle of no where. I presume a sentiment that is shared with many here. This car is not to be a restored trailer queen. It will be driven, and I completely expect it to go there and come back, barring the usual vagaries that follow any endeavor of this kind. Having read through the "best 1955 Cadillac build" and a number of other similar builds of cars of that generation my end goal is to accomplish something similar to 'Dan's Cadillac' that you see in the 55 build. My plan is to follow pretty closely the path set out in the 55 build but not necessarily include some of the accouterments that are found on that car, scoops, extended fender skirts etc. So here's the rub. I want disc brakes, ease of access of parts in case of break down, newer steering parts and so forth. That seems to indicate a clip but honestly I'd rather not. It isn't only the fabrication issues, those I can over come, but it is then creating a level of complexity that I am hoping to avoid. Then there is the engine issue. I have a rebuilt 454/700R that is turning out some decent numbers and in my mind just plain suites the caddy. Big engine, big car, big torque, good combination. If I do this I feel like I am forced into the clipping corner. As of yet I haven't gone mad with tearing the car apart because I would like some input from those who have gone down this path ahead of me and may have some thoughts I haven't considered. As well I intend on doing much of the work myself. This isn't my first rodeo so the level of difficulty doesn't worry me but I also don't want to expend countless hours heading down rabbit trails that will produce only spent money and disappointment. So HAMB'ers let me hear your thoughts on how to proceed before I go lighting up the torch.

    Cheers.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Hard to read but you have the right idea.

    Looks like a nice solid car,build it to drive and there's nothing wrong with using the big block Chevy. HRP
     
  3. royalbopper
    Joined: Dec 29, 2001
    Posts: 36

    royalbopper
    Member
    from Sweden

    It will be a very tight fit involving a lot of fabricating.

    But since you have the car and the engine already why not!


    Sigge!
     
  4. servi53
    Joined: Jun 28, 2006
    Posts: 338

    servi53
    Member

    make it happen and keep us posted, that combo will move that boat as well as what it came with
     

  5. dad-bud
    Joined: Aug 22, 2009
    Posts: 3,884

    dad-bud
    Member

    Absolutely agree with using the BBC in that great looking car.
    As for clipping it - nope. Get a disc brake conversion - sure, great idea! Rebuild the steering, then drive the livin' crap out of it.
    You'll love it.
    Oh, BTW, I smell a build thread happenin' - yeeehaaaahhhh!!!!!!!!!
    Post us lots and lots of pics, please.
    Sure, you'll get a million opinions - I just gave you mine - but get that great car going.
    Cheers.
     
  6. drptop70ss
    Joined: May 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,192

    drptop70ss
    Member
    from NY

    I would not use the big block, I have a bunch of them and have installed a bunch more into my cars, they were great when gas was $2.00 a gallon, now my spares stay under the bench. If you are truly going to drive the car and want acceptable gas mileage I would go small block with that 700r4, much easier to install just because of the smaller size, less cooling capacity needed, etc..big engine compartments get real small with a BB.
    I am finishing up a SB into my 47 cadillac that has a huge engine compartment, BB would of meant notching the firewall and losing the factory inner fender wells as well. All doable but I want the keep the original look to a point.
     
  7. deto
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 2,621

    deto
    Member

    No clip but the big block would be cool.


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  8. I'd do a clip. I've done them before, and always worked a treat. But I'd also use a 472-500 with a rear in the 2:70 range, like the early 70's Cads. Always got 12-16 mpg with those, and cruising comfortably at 80-90 mph, together (quite seriously).

    Might be more work, but a better result, IMHO.

    Cosmo
     
  9. VintageConcepts
    Joined: Dec 29, 2012
    Posts: 205

    VintageConcepts
    Member

    Im working on my '55 right now and took a little break…good question, because you know everybody will be asking you, everywhere you go…"hey, whacha got under that hood?" Just my opinion, keep the caddy motor. My father-in-law has BB…I said thanks but no thanks…and I'm also planing on driving the crap out of it.
     
  10. finkd
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 1,500

    finkd
    Member Emeritus

    THROW THE bbc in the scrap iron pile and use a caddy 472-500 way better milage and you will like that at 4.00 a gallon. all my friends that have bbc have terrible milage and starter problems. I've got a 472 in my 57 caddy , love it. and I get some mpg unlike bbc.
     
  11. deto
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 2,621

    deto
    Member

    Do you have a big block cad motor?


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  12. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    Thanks for all the input. I am open to the idea of using a different engine/tranny combo as the gas mileage issue has certainly crossed my mind. The BB wasn't actually destined for this project but a 37 dodge p/u rat rod I have planned. It just seems such a natural for the caddy. Besides I found a 57 hemi that is more in keeping with the rod. Work on the Caddy starts in earnest next week so I will start my project posts then. I thought I would get some thoughts before tearing into it.
     
  13. Vimtage Iron
    Joined: Feb 28, 2010
    Posts: 554

    Vimtage Iron
    Member

    We've got a 500 cad in the 47 Caddy and no cutting or problems, but who ever put it in there either knew what he was doing or wore out 5 tape measures and rulers, that muther is in there and you don't see the floor below it, I would think one would fit in the 55 a little easier and will look good, a sbc just is too puny for a grand car.
     
  14. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    Nope. I have the BB/700, the stock running gear, 57 hemi, and then of course SBCs are pretty easy to dig up.
     
  15. VintageConcepts
    Joined: Dec 29, 2012
    Posts: 205

    VintageConcepts
    Member

  16. deto
    Joined: Jun 26, 2010
    Posts: 2,621

    deto
    Member

    Whatever you do I would go with cubes. A sbc would be working to move that boat around. A hemi would be awesome...


    Posted from the TJJ App for iPhone & iPad
     
  17. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,489

    40StudeDude
    Member

    [​IMG]

    Nice looking '54...and thanx for reading "The Best '55 Caddy Build" - my thread...and complimenting on it. FWIW, I put on over 5000 miles on my '55 Caddy last summer (2012) with my brother "Dan" in his '54 Caddy either in front of me or directly behind. My Cadillac 500" engine averaged 12-15 mpg...not much better than your 454", but Dan and his Cadillac average 19-21 mpg -consistently. Most times he was getting 21 mpg with his STOCK 331" V8 and 4-speed Hydramatic tranny. I could walk away from him at a stop sign or light, but couldn't pass up more stations than he did.

    As for the brakes, I've got discs on mine, courtesy of the '78 Pontiac Trans Am sub I put in...does mine stop any quicker or faster than Dan's...Nope...and he's got stock drum brakes-and no power. When we built his, we took out the old antiquated booster and tossed it in the trash...there's not a thing wrong with his brakes or drum brakes. The only reason I have discs is cuz they were attached to the sub frame.

    Personally, IF you're Caddy is in tip top shape, there is no reason to be worried about taking a long distance trip in it...parts are not that hard to find -case in point - we drove to Scottsbluff, Nebraska from Denver (260 miles one way) for their rod run...when we got there, a rear wheel bearing on Dan's Caddy was rumbling-we checked it, found it was bad and knew we wouldn't get back home with it. We went to Advance Auto parts and ordered two rears, they overnighted them, we pulled it apart in the motel parking lot and had a local shop press the new one back on...took a few hours to remove and replace, but we didn't miss any of the rod run and drove back home. Moral: IF you cannot fix your car on the side of the road, better stay home or trailer it.

    You mentioned parts availability, there are companies such as USA Parts and McVey's Cadillac parts for nearly everything you need-mechanical or cosmetic...and many other companies that deal in Cadillacs...and I must say that stock 331" in your Caddy is a good engine...there's nothing wrong with it that a rebuild wouldn't cure.

    Long distance trips are nothing to fear. If you think you're going to have a problem, take the part with you...Dan carries a new water pump, new fuel pump, new front wheel bearings and a U-joint, everything else can be bought along the way. You mentioned power steering...Dan's Caddy does have stock power steering and he doesn't have a bit of trouble with it...if it ain't broke, why fix it...??? Of course, radial tires help a lot too...

    We are considering doing the Western Canada Power Cruise this coming summer... leaving from Winnipeg on July 22 and ending up in Puyallup, Washington for the GoodGuy's event there. The "Power Cruise" will take five days to go across Canada on Highway One...and it'll take us two full days to get to Winnipeg...IF we didn't have confidence in our Caddy's about taking a 10 day long cruise, we'd stay home.

    Dan and I like to take long distance cruises and that's why we built those Caddy's...good luck with yours...

    Personally, I'd like to see you keep the Caddy all Caddy...but you know how that old saying goes...don'tcha...???

    Oh, the photo above...??? That's Dan in his '54 taking on my son in his '59 at the Leadsled Spectacular drags in Salina, Kansas, in July...and Salina is 7 hours east of Denver.

    R-
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
  18. 55CadillacTed
    Joined: Apr 26, 2010
    Posts: 234

    55CadillacTed
    Member

    good comments Roger. good firsthand experience. Helpful to a lot of us.
     
  19. I don't know if this helps you, I have installed a BBC & 400 auto in a 1946 Lincoln Continental for the same reasons. This compartment may be longer and more narrow. I really don't know, but here's a couple of pics,
     

    Attached Files:

  20. Gator
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,016

    Gator
    Member

    YUP ^^^ had a 472 in my last Caddy -a '55' loved having a "Caddy in a Caddy"
     
  21. Edsel58a
    Joined: Jan 17, 2008
    Posts: 790

    Edsel58a
    Member

    I third this comment
     
  22. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    Thks again for all the input. It helped. Tks 40studedude. Your words near a particular weight considering your build past. I think I will stow the BB for now, keep the car Caddy and upgrade what needs doing. Build posts will start next week. Cheers.
     
  23. GassersGarage
    Joined: Jul 1, 2007
    Posts: 4,727

    GassersGarage
    Member

    Don't know if they make a kit now to install disc brakes but a couple of years ago, a local shop had to send the spindles out to MP to have one made up for the stock front end. They also installed a hydro-boost to the system. Clipping the front may be a better alternative if they still don't make a kit.

    As said before, I work go with a sbc 383 for torque and ease of maintenance.
     
  24. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    So I have been gone for a bit but I did get a little done on the car this past week end; with the help of my faithful shop dogs who are already good to go for our first show. I have a wounded paw so I have been side tracked as the stitches heal. My stand in 'right hand' refuses to have her picture taken but she did get in there and get a fair chunk of the front off. Hopefully next week I will get the front clip off and with a little bit of luck separate the frame from the body.
     

    Attached Files:

  25. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    Been back at the car after what felt like near forever for my hand to heal. It became infected so I was down longer than expected. With that said I have made some progress. Interior is out, front end is off, and I should be able to lift the body from the frame once I am back to my garage. However I am stymied at this point because I have been out done by a steering column. Unlike the 55's that use a soft coupler to join the steering column to the box the 54's use a direct connection to the steering box. I have read the manual about 2 dozen times and still I can't figure out how to liberate the steering column. Any suggestions would be great. Sorry no pictures. I thought I had some on my phone. I will post some soon.
     
  26. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    Oh ya as well. Second question. Usually I have a pretty clear idea of what I want the car to look like before I begin but with this car I just haven't been able to get that picture in my mind. This project has always been about working with my daughter so for the most part I have let her direct the end goal. We have some very different ideas on paint colour. She wants to go classic 'hot rod'. Flat black, red interior, red pin stripping, white walls etc. I think that is cool and all but that is a whole lot of black car. Green, yellow, red, blue, tan,purple are all out. I had this flat burnt orange/black combo in my head but she isn't buying in. Anybody seen or dreamt up a good colour combo for a mid fifties caddy?

    We were at Viva Las Vegas, what a great time that was. Next year I am hoping to roll in with the car mostly done. Cheers
     
  27. Ditchdoc220
    Joined: Nov 17, 2012
    Posts: 11

    Ditchdoc220
    Member
    from Alberta

    I have been able to get back to the build. Still pretty earlier. Some tear down shots. Hopefully by the end of today the frame will be at the sandblasters and the engine will be sitting on my stand.
     

    Attached Files:

  28. phat rat
    Joined: Mar 18, 2001
    Posts: 4,724

    phat rat
    Member

    I have to shake my head at all the comments of the BBC being such a gas hog. Put the right combo together and there's no reason for it to be. I have a 425hp/454, 700R, 3.42 gear in my cpe and have pulled as high as 19.6 mpg on the highway. Is it a race motor? Hell no I built it as a reacher/long hauler. I've put as many as 8,000 mi on it in 4 weeks. Plus it's not the same old 350/350 combo that so many do. As far as size, my firewall isn't cut and the inner fender panels are there. That said a 472 or 500 Cad would be great
     

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