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Projects 1955 Cadiallac Convertible Conversion

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by grease4life, May 25, 2011.

  1. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    Well in an effort to re motivate myself to get back to work on my project, I decided to start a build thread. This will also ensure that I remember to document my progress by taking pictures. Below are the original pics from the eBay add when I purchase my dream car. 1955 Cadillac Coupe De Ville!

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  2. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    First task...get er running. After several restorations I only have two rules... buy something that is as rust free as possible and has an engine that should be able to run so that I can still drive the car throughout most of the build. So here we go!
    I degrease and power washed the engine to start with. Next was the basics... (pressure test all the cylinders, replace the plugs and wires, and buy a new battery.) Since the car had not been started in about 20 years (a true barn find) I drained the oil and replaced with ATF transmission detergent and replaced the filter. I also squirted some 20w50 on top of each cylinder so that it wouldn't turn over dry. Next I topped of the coolant and crossed my fingers. She actually fired up with little effort and small adjustments to the timing were all that was needed! After letting run for about 20-30 minutes, quickly drained the ATF and out came any other crap that was bound to the engine walls and pistons. I replaced with oil and another new filter.
    Next was brakes. After looking through the brake system I found that front pads and a rebuild of the power brake pump was needed. So I sent the pump off to be rebuilt and during the three days it took to get back, I sanded and painted the engine, radiator shroud, radiator, and air cleaner cover. Also picked up a new filter element, radiator cap and thermostat.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
    kbgreen likes this.
  3. <FANG>
    Joined: Feb 7, 2008
    Posts: 532

    <FANG>
    Member
    from W.L.A.

    looks like a great start
     
  4. Toast
    Joined: Jan 6, 2007
    Posts: 3,885

    Toast
    Member
    from Jenks, OK

    Love those cars! Looks like a good start! also looks like the gas tank may be one of the next fixes?
     
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  5. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    After having one of the best feelings in the world (driving my car for the first time) I got right back to work. It needed rear shocks bad so I picked up a pair of air shocks as a temporary solution since a c notch and rear bags were no where in the near future. I also put some lowering blocks and removed a couple leafs to get that stance achieved on a budget. I also recently began working with lead so I welded and lead worked the nose of the car. Ok enough work, I headed out to my first show in my new project.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  6. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    The tank has a large dent and more importantly, I am not sure if any rust is on the inside so until I just make a new tank, I figured this is the safest solution!
     
  7. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    After the show I started in on shaving the door handles. Also found a pretty close color to the faded cream corn original so I picked up a can of it to mask the primer as I complete jobs.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  8. resqd37Zep
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,217

    resqd37Zep
    Member
    from Nor Cal

  9. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    Sooo around this time I realized my dream car is not a coupe de ville but a convertible. Since I already started into this project and noticed that complete rust bucket convertibles are selling for tens of thousands, I decided to do a conversion! This is a lot of work and fab but I made up my mind... Off with the top!

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    My brother in law was kind enough to come over and give me a hand.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  10. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    Thanks...I had recently read it top to bottom. He was my inspiration start this thread!
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2011
  11. resqd37Zep
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,217

    resqd37Zep
    Member
    from Nor Cal

    I'd like to buy that top if you're parting ways with it. I have a 55 that needs a new roof.
     
  12. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    I found a donor car (1956 Buick Custom Convertible on eBay) I got it for a great price before thinking how much it would cost to ship the thing back here. Next idea...rent a truck? Still too expensive. Last idea... Fly to Nebraska where the donor car was with a sawzall and a socket kit and buy a truck off Craigslist for as little as possible and sell it when I got home. Below is the donor, From this I was able to get the stainless trim for the from windshield frame, the frame itself, the folding top, the rear bench seat and its bucket, as well as the rear windows. Also the truck that I bought for 1500 drove across the US and sold for 1350. Not too bad...
     

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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2011
  13. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    This last post brings ya pretty current.
    Rear shelf behind seat cut away, Rear seat bucket in with top mounted in place and body work done to area where hard top rear posts were cut out.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
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  14. resqd37Zep
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,217

    resqd37Zep
    Member
    from Nor Cal

  15. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    Goals:

    1. Cut out trunk to access rear end and decide to install two link trailing arms or tri 4-links as well as air bags and build custom gas tank. Looking for advice on weather or not a different rearend should be used if plans to increase horse power and if so what fits the best?

    2. Next comes the fun part. I plan to install the new windshield frame and stainless but first do a 2-3" chop on the convertible top frame. Since there are no instructions on this I have found two ways of accomplishing. Either cut away a section of the frame that runs along the back side of the rear window and add that section to the top to make up for the length that you will need to make up... or since these cars have so much more room to work with than modern, possibly lower and modify as necessary, the whole mount. This may suck the top more inside the car when closed as well.

    3. Either complete front end swap, modify stock to suit needs. Will first modify lower control arm and bag and see how that leaves it sitting. If not low enough, then install new wide ride IFS.

    I am currently using the narrow convertible set backs seen above and building using original springs and fold down center armrest (which the convertibles didn't have. Will post pics once frame is complete.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  16. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    I hate to admit it but I moved and did not have room for it so I had to junk it:mad:. It was in perfect condition. I do have all of the interior trim for around the back window, the back window glass, front and rear windshield stainless. All perfect condition... Also the door flappers and long stainless rocker guards.
    If interested let me know. Happy to help!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2011
  17. resqd37Zep
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,217

    resqd37Zep
    Member
    from Nor Cal

    Ouch that hurts. I have all the other trim pieces just need a decent top. I thought about going topless, open air roadster style but haven't given up on finding the top yet. Thanks anyways.

    James
     
  18. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    Yeah sorry, I would have loved to give it away if it meant going to good use. I have two different sources for with large Cadillac yards. You should give them a try. Cliff - 951.940.5755, Mark - 301.672.1000, and this third number I just had saved from an ad in hemmings for parting out a 55 Cadillac I think - 818.361.1147 Good Luck!
     
    krw854 likes this.
  19. Did you add any reinforcements to compensate for the roof removal? Anecdotally, I had ragtop Caddy and it would flex even as a factory reinforced car. I noticed it one time after when I had jacked up a rear corner, I couldn't open the door to get something I needed.
     
  20. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,395

    40StudeDude
    Member

    Thanx for the kudos, guys. I certainly appreciate it and am glad my little build is an inspiration to someone, other than me.

    G4L, That sure seems like a lot of work, cutting the top off, and then going after the Buick...but we all have our dreams and it's looking good...stay at it.

    Resqd327ep, there is a yard here in ColoRODo that has a couple of two door hardtops w/roofs...IF you're interested, but I'd imagine shipping a roof to Cali might be a bit cost prohibitive...there's gotta be one closer to you out there.

    R-
     
  21. Captain Kirk
    Joined: Mar 20, 2010
    Posts: 82

    Captain Kirk
    Member

    I kind of like those 55's myself....best of luck with your project.

    Kirk
     
  22. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,132

    Squablow
    Member

    I was scared when I saw the roof getting cut off but now that I see you had a donor convertible to work with I think it turned out great. I did a similar conversion with an O/T GTO and am planning another for my '55 Dodge.

    Also curious to know what you did for reinforcements. I had to add full-length frame rail boxes to my GTO to make it work, the Dodge will require an X-member added to the center of the frame.
     
  23. SWEEEEET. I thought about going topless when I whacked the roof off mine but decided that I wanted the intimate feel of a carson style top. Good luck on your project. FWIW 94 Vette front suspension fits pretty nicely.
     
  24. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    I did use various reinforcements do to the fact that I didn't want to possibly destroy a perfectly good car. After doing some minimal research I found that everyone I talked to said that the frames were the same on the conv. vs coupes... so I nervously cut the spot welds on the support bars and they fell right out! not an ounce of added stain from the point when it had the top on to the point it was not only cut off but driven a little... So far so good. I do have plans to do something similar to the pic below.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  25. resqd37Zep
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 3,217

    resqd37Zep
    Member
    from Nor Cal

    The roof was adding additional strength and support.
    ]Be careful. Without proper reinforcing the doors will sag and they'll never close right.
     
  26. Model A John
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,764

    Model A John
    Member
    from wichita ks

    Cool project! Keep us posted.
     
  27. payton1960
    Joined: Jun 2, 2011
    Posts: 1

    payton1960
    Member
    from Austin, TX

    I have a 55 parts car that has a good roof in Austin
     
  28. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    OK I picked up my car for a nice full weekend of fabrication!

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  29. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    With a little more grinding and cutting, the convertible top now goes smoothly up and down!

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  30. grease4life
    Joined: Apr 24, 2008
    Posts: 234

    grease4life
    Member

    The plan for this weekend was to knock out the c-notch project. With a fresh order from Gambino Customs, I began to do just that. I cut out the trunk and all metal all the way up and around to the point where the interior rear floor board meets the trunk.

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012

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