Massachusetts Based Marathon Rally 1949 Cadillac

I was recently at the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation in Brookline, Massachusetts attending the 2013 Swedish Car Day.  Outside of the museum the 1949 Cadillac of Lloyd Dahmen/Chuck Schwager that was successfully used in both the 2010 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge and the 2013 Great South American Challenge.


A Rally Tested 1949 Cadillac

This car was especially prepared for the 2010 Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.  I went to a lecture about 2 years ago at Larz Anderson where Lloyd and Chuck explained all of the preparation that went into this vehicle.  There was a great deal of work done to the suspension and back axle in this car.  The thorough preparation that was done to this Cadillac has resulted in a very reliable, tough rally car.


Note The Additional Front Bumper

The 1949 Cadillac was the first Cadillac with the overhead valve V8 engine.  The engine in this car was detuned somewhat in order to run well on low octane fuel.


The 1949 Cadillac Began To Show The Legendary 1950’s Cadillac Fins

The Cadillac has a stylish fastback design that was copied by other General Motors marques in the early 1950s.  The large size of the car is also useful to carry spare parts and tools that can help you get to the end of a marathon rally.


Strong Steel Wheels Are Needed For The Tough Marathon Rallies

The rally navigator’s station is not complicated in this car.  In addition to the Terratrip 303 rally computer shown, I believe that the black holder to the right of the Terratrip 303 is the unit that holds the GPS system.  The GPS was especially needed in some of the remote areas in Mongolia.


Note The Rally Navigator’s Station

On close examination, you will note that this car only has a brake pedal which is indicative of an automatic transmission.  Only a few special order Cadillacs had manual transmissions in this era.  I believe that special order manual transmission Cadillacs were available for Briggs Cunningham for his Cadillac Le Mans competition cars.  Lloyd Dalmen pointed out during the lecture at Larz Anderson that his thinking was that he did not have to worry about clutch and other transmission problems.


Comfortable Seats Are Needed For The Rough Roads

I am not sure where the seats were sourced from in this car, but I thought that they were an excellent choice to provide both the comfort and safety needed for a long rally over rough roads.  The roll cage is a comforting as well.


I Wonder What Adventures Lie Ahead For This Cadillac?

The car still has the livery from the 2013 Great South American Challenge, a rally held by H&H Classic Rallies.  In spite of the two major events in which this car has taken part, the car looks like it is ready to go again.

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5 Responses to Massachusetts Based Marathon Rally 1949 Cadillac

  1. Hugh says:

    When I was a kid we visited Briggs Cunningham’s factory in West Palm Beach. There was one of these fast back Cadillacs in the parking lot. It was customized and painted dark metallic green. I can’t find any photos of it. Found your site while doing an image search. Nice article – thanks.

    • Hi Hugh,
      Was the Cadillac that you saw at the Briggs Cunningham museum a car that Cunningham raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
      Steve McKelvie

      • Hugh Nutting says:

        No it was not. The Lemans entry was a 1950 hardtop. What I am looking for was a 1948 or 1949 Sedanette / club coupe fast back. We were there in December of 1954 when the C6R was being built. The fastback still had some of Briggs’ CONN vanity plates on it.

      • Hi Hugh,
        I have a single picture of a 1949 Cadillac 2-Door that might fit what you are looking for. The car looks stock from the outside, but the picture shows the car with the hood up and it looks like there has been some work on the engine. If you think that it would help, then send me a private email at shanna12 at comcast dot net
        Steve McKelvie

      • Hugh Nutting says:

        Thanks Steve. I think I found it. Engine searches turn up over 100 images of this model Cadillac, but none of the Cunningham fastback. It was customized. The hood was flattened out something like a 1952 Studebaker. The tail lights were lowered so there was no fin left like the Adams’ coupe Coachcraft of Hollywood built. As I remember the rear fenders were cut out with full arches – no skirts as stock. Some of the chrome moldings were removed, too. Hugh will send from montanasky

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