Monday, April 25, 2011

THE RIK HOVING FILES: Hot Rod Show Give Away Cadillac

For the 5th Hot Rod show held in the Los Angeles National Guard Armory April 24-27 1952 the show organisers planned to have a wonderful custom car created to be given away as door price

This announcement for the Give Away Caddy at the Hot Rod Show was made in the newspapers in Los Angeles. The car was still in primer when the photo for the announcement was made.

In previous years the show promoters had given away a 32 Ford Roadster, and some Sports cars. For 1952 it was going to be a Custom Car. Several manu factors where contacted to construct this Custom. The Barris Shop was chosen to create the overall design and to do the body work, and all other custom work needed. The Carson Top Shop was responsible for its interior and the wonderful removable Top with wrap around rear windows. The engine was hopped up by Eddie Edmunds.

This never before published photo of the fresh primered Cadillac was recently discovered in the Barris Archives by Mad Fabricators Piero. The slightly warn photo shows that the car was completely assembled and driven while in primer. A common practice to find any problems before the car was going to be painted and completely finished.

The car was featured in a three page article in the December 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine. But in this article there was no mentioning of the new lucky owner of the car. It seams that the new owner was not into showing the car at other shows, or be part of any publicity after the show. 
A few photos of the car where used in some Barris How To magazine articles, showing the grille and rear fender scoops.

The three page article in December 1952 Hop Magazine shows the car in its final gloss paint. Barris named the pale gold color “Golden Fog”

The show promoters delivered the 1949 Cadillac (just a few years old then) in early 1952 at the Barris Shop. Barris designed this custom to be an elegant, high class custom. 
The windshield was chopped 2,5 inches. A new grille was created from using a second 1949 Caddy grille turned upside down and welded to the original piece. This new unit was smoothed and chromed. The floating grille bar had ends made of 37 Chevy headlight buckets and three grille bars where used from a 1951 Ford Pick Up Truck, and everything was beautifully chromed. A new front splash pan was created and molded on to the front of the body. The New front bumper was made out of 1951 Cadillac bumper components with integrated dagmars. The bumper was split in two and the center was now filled with a molded in custom made splash pan. 1951 Ford grille rings and custom made inserts where used for the air intakes below the frenched Caddy headlights. The chrome was removed from the hood and was also peaked in the process. 

This unique photo of the car at the LA Hot Rod show in 1952 was made by photographer Loomis Dean for Life Magazine. It shows the custom grille and surround. And also the smooth Cadillac bumper ends. The car would later get a license plate frame on the splash pan.

The door and trunk handles where removed and electrical openers installed. A custom made rear fender air intake - to cool the rear brakes - was created using the rock shield of a 1949 Cadillac Fleetwood. The car was lowered, but not as much as many other Barris creations. Just enough to make the long Cadillac body look even longer. Swanson supplied the needed components for this job.

Another Life Magazine photo shows how long this custom is. The long hood and lowered top give the car excellent proportions. The Barris team have created a very elegant timeless custom for the show. The crowd stands beside the car dreaming how wonderful it would be to win the door price and drive away in it. 
When all the body work was done the car was primered and assembled. Then it was time to deliver the Caddy to the Carson Top Shop for a full custom interior in red and black leather. Carson also made a unique wrap around rear window removable Hard Top for the Cadillac. The top was not off white as most of the Carson tops where, but for this car they choose black leather as the cover material. When Carson was ready with the upholstery part the car was driven around for some time to find all the bugs. Then everything was pulled apart again and Barris prepared it for a very classy pale gold paint job with extra gold powder. Barris named the color “Golden Fog”
Unfortunately we have never been able to locate a color photo of this car to show you how gorgeous it must have looked.

1952 Hot Rod and Motor Sports Show program cover shows the Cadillac on the cover in yellow. But that was just to mimic the Golden paint. Paint techniques and high cost prevented from reproducing the color correctly on the program.

One thing that was found recently, are pages of a Barris scrapbook showing this Custom Cadillac. George kept scrapbooks from all the Barris Cars that made the magazines, show programs, posters etc. This Give away Cadillac got quite a bit of publicity before the 1952 Show. But after the show it disappeared.. What happened to this car? The only thing we where able to find out about the winner is a small article in the Motor Sports World News paper, when the winner Lawrence Kilty was concratulated.
But has this very nice custom survived, d oes it still sit in a garage somewhere, what’s the story after the show. If you know more, please let us know.
The may 1952 Issue of Motor Sports World had this small announcement in it. The Winner Lawrence Kilty from Hollywood is the lucky winner of this Barris Customs. He drove it away that evening... but where to?

Below is some material George collected in his scrapbook about the car. Some unique material, recently discovered by Piero at the Barris Archives.


  1. Hi,
    Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Hot Rod Community? Our members will love it.
    Members include: Hot Rod Owners, Enthusiasts, Experts, Dealers, Collectors, Customizers, etc.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website. You can also add Photos, Videos and Classifieds if you like.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    Please feel free to share as often and as much as you like.
    The Hot Rod Community:
    I hope you consider sharing with us.
    Thank you,
    James Kaufman, Editor

  2. This will certainly be a good read for enthusiasts, collectors and hot rod lovers. I, too, enjoyed reading this wonderful piece. Please keep up the good work!

    Cadillac Factory Air Ride



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Barris Kustom City is dedicated to the preservation of early Barris Kustoms history, images and merchandise.