Boyd Coddington Built 1949 Cadillac “CadZZila”
Of all the hot rods built at Boyd Coddingtons Garage, none of them would ever come close in popularity to the enormously popular Cadzzilla. A stunning piece of automotive art. The incredible craftsmanship has to be seen to be believed. Some would say that this is one of the finest custom-cars of all time.
The Larry Erickson design (head designer for Cadillac at the time) started with a 1948 Series 62 Cadillac, a fastback two-door sedan, one of only 4,764 built, and was the first Cadillac to have the distinctive tailfins. A rust-free donor car was pulled out of Arizona and hauled back to Boyd Coddington’s Garage. Erickson initially sketched up a body shape designed to be placed on a modified stock frame, supporting a big motor and suspended by late-model components. But Billy Gibbons wanted an even more radical look. Boyd Sr. told Larry not to worry about the roofline, saying, “draw it up the way you want it to look. We will build the windshield around your design.”
Boyd’s metal man Craig Naff translated Erickson’s renderings into sheet metal. A Cadillac 500 CI V-8 engine used, chassis expert Larry Sergejeff, fabricated a custom steel frame, then added ’85 Corvette steering, front suspension, front disc brakes and Koni coil-over shocks all around and a Currie-modified Ford 9-inch rear end. The rear wheels are completely skirted; the fronts are 22-inch two-piece billet aluminum wheels designed to resemble vintage Caddy caps. Art Chrisman gave the Cadillac V-8 a few enhancements to give it the super smooth, super Cadillac ride. Boyd’s crew adapted a Holley fuel injection setup and fabricated 2-inch exhaust headers. The transmission is a GM Hydra-Matic.
The late Hot Rod Magazine’s Gray Baskerville called this car “the most incredible transformation he’d ever witnessed,” saying: “Imagine taking a stock, totally virgin ’48 Cadillac and ‘transforming’ it into this incredible automotive sculpture”.
The talented hands of Craig Naff skillfully welded the entire front clip, sectioned hood and fenders together to form a tilt-able one-piece body panel. He also fabricated custom aluminum inner fenders and a complete alloy firewall. The lights have been frenched ‘50s-style. The hood top was re-shaped, but the original Cadillac hood ornament was retained. Working around the custom windshield, the Cadillac body was chopped, re-proportioned, and tapered rearward so CadZZilla flows smoothly into fully blended and lowered rear quarter-panels, complete with an upturn to honor the O.E. fenders.
Keith Russell at Boyd’s finished the car with a urethane enamel paint system with multiple base coats churning out a rich custom purple, mixed by The House of Color in Minneapolis, MN. Bobby Griffey and Danny Drumm stitched the tan leather and tan carpet interior. The original Cadillac instrument panel was restored and retained for. A stereo system fitting of a rock star was installed complete with a hidden control panel.
CadZZilla has toured with Billy Gibbons and made many appearances including the 2200-mile cruise from our Stanton shop to the Hot Rod Super Nationals in Canfield, OH. In 1989 when Cadzzila first rolled out of the Garage, Gray Baskerville said, “CadZZilla will be the one hot rod that sets the tempo and the standard for all hot rods for years to come”.