What Are You Working On? Ron Brown’s 1956 Cadillac Promises

Photo by jessehall, Power Automedia

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cadillacs are like Corvettes-everything is expensive. Ron Brown found that out when he went looking for a fifties Cadillac to build. The one in this feature is the third in a line of Cadillacs. No, not a third of as many Cadillacs Ron has owned, as this is the first Cadillac he’s owned, but a third in a club called “The Caddy Boys” out of the Denver, Colorado area, consisting of a 1954, a 1955 and the 1956 Cadillac of Ron’s.

The ’56 Cadillac took a serious hit right after Ron got the car. On the way to a Kansas rod run, the secondary hood
latch failed and the hood wrapped itself around the top of the car. Fortunately, the roof, windshield or the stainless
wasn’t damaged.

Ten years ago, Ron decided he wanted to build a luxury car after building a 1937 Buick street rod. He answered an ad for a ’55 Cadillac convertible in northern Colorado. After looking the car over – it needed a complete re-do even though the car was complete with Continental kit for $5,000. Ron decided a new engine, transmission, interior and top, plus body and paint would put the rebuild price out of reach. He passed on the car.

Interior parts are painted to match the Ferrari leather. Dull look is intentional since it matches the leather better. Dash has been modified with round A/C outlets.

A New Project

Several weeks later a friend offered him a running, driving 1956 Cadillac hardtop and a 1955 Ford F-100 for his 1937 Chevy sedan street rod. The Cadillac hardtop had a 500-inch Caddy engine and a 200-R4 transmission in it. It was painted an off-white color and the interior was decent. “It was a good deal,” Ron said. “I’ll keep the Caddy and sell the F-100.” Two weeks later the F-100 was gone and Ron had a new ‘toy’ to play with and extra cash.

In the meantime, a friend acquired a ’54 Cadillac hardtop and started building a kustom. Shortly after that, another friend bought a ’55 Cadillac Coupe DeVille failed project – and “The Caddy Boys” club was formed.

Ron does his own interior upholstery in his home shop, including trunk and carpet. Ferrari perforated leather is used on the seats.

Over the course of six years, the Cadillac did get worked on, but only in spurts – the ’56 got a rebuilt 500ci and a new 700 R-4 transmission and the ’57 Chevy showed up. Body work was completed one summer and the ’34 Plymouth sedan was purchased. The Cad got a Butterscotch Dreamsicle water-based paint job by Wicked Custom Classics of Castle Rock, Colorado, in the Spring of 2012, and the ’62 Impala re-do was put in front of the Cadillac. Assembly of the front clip and wiring on the Caddy followed in the Fall and over a few more months, a late model split bench seat was fitted in the Cadillac; and trunk upholstery completed. About that time, the relative gave up on the El Camino and Ron got it. Of course, that was only a minor ‘bump’ and eventually, in 2014, the only thing left to do on the Cadillac was A/C, wiring, stereo, headliner, rear seat, and the rest of the interior and glass.

The ‘57 needed paint and interior, the original 283ci engine and transmission needed to be rebuilt.

Each came with baggage – the ‘57 needed paint and interior, the original 283ci engine and transmission needed to be rebuilt. The Plymouth needed an interior, glass, and some minor body mods, the ’62 Impala needed a 350 SBC and a four-speed, and a new black paint job; the green El Camino needed a new 700-R4 to make it an easy every day driver. Each took time and the Cadillac languished, shoved into a corner of the garage.

“The Caddy Boys” will be rolling hard (or easy, depending on your outlook) again this summer – a procession of three similar Cadillacs – watch for them at several rod runs this summer.

It’s great to see these types of friends keeping things on the road and encouraging each other to cruise. It all starts with a project, and if you’ve got one you’re working on, share it with us! Send us an email and yours could be the next project featured in “What Are You Working On?”.

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