Roger Jetter’s ‘55 Caddy is Complete
Page 5


here's some of the most recent pix, starting with my bro and a friend, Clint, messing with the motor mount...it's hard for me to take pix and appear in them, that's why my bro is in most of the pix...


And as stated above, the doors are finished and hung back on the car...I'm not going to put anything back in them (glass, electic motors, traks) until the car gets painted.


In this pic you can see the engine and the rad support...had to have all this mounted in order to fire the engine...the engine now has a grand total of 45 minutes on it...That's my bro's '54 Caddy in the background


After our 12 inches of snow last Tuesday (March 23rd) and the threat of snow on the weekend (which didn't amount to much), I couldn't take the car to the bodyman...the weatherman predicted nice weather for the first of the week...he was correct...It turned out to be 78 degrees here on Tuesday, March 30th). It was determined that would be the perfect opportunity to drive the car down to his shop, about 8 miles from my place...and the first opportunity to drive the car since October First, 2009.


From that point, my drive was almost over...it was fun to drive the Caddy again...here I am turning into his drive...


As soon as the body is done, it'll go for paint...I'm thinking right at the first of May...


So, we go down and now the hood is on and is looking good...now one half of my car is assembled...the trunk and fenders are next...and they are at my place.


Here's the body man and I discussing the finer elements of doing body work: adjusting the doors, adjusting the hood, heating and shrinking metal, straightening fender skirts, sanding bondo, spraying sealer and primer, guide coating, blocking. All the elements that go into bodywork before laying on the final coats...it's been a long journey and I've still got a ways to go.




Well, guess what...since the huge local cruise wasn't that far out of the way...and it was still daylight, and one of the nicer days we've had around here -75 degrees (we got two inches of snow on May 11th/12th and it's been rainey and cold since then), I thot why not take the Caddy over to the cruise and show it off...!!! So I did.

Here I am at the final right turn before heading into the Sonic


Lots of good comments on it...and lots of "Hey, you lost some parts on the way to the cruise" or "It's legal to drive this car without fenders or glass?" (I answered that one with - "fenderless roadsters do it all the time.")


 I had to figure out how to mate the new steering column to the Trans Am power steering box. U-joints…yeah, Borgeson u-joints…the best there is…can’t take short cuts here, not with steering…so I spent some cash and got the right stuff…here you can see how I had to snake the u- joints around those headers. They work great and are smooth. It may look like they touch the headers – it’s close, but they do not touch.


I pulled the front clip off for some minor work around the engine and run some brake lines to the discs…while the fenders were off, they were modified and hung back on…by modification, I mean, I had to open the area above the A-arms…or rather…close it up cuz the previous owner had decided to cut it all out…and I didn’t like the look of that…it was a half-assed job…so I healed it and made it look like it belonged there….


I use a lot of round rod to build things…here I’ve bent it to add rigidity to the inner panel, the area in front of and behind it will be filled in…and… on the driver’s side, as you can see below, is already welded in and done. These took several days each to build…and get them to look correct…I hate something that looks out of place…like it hadn’t ever been there and simply tossed on cuz it had to be in that certain spot…wrong way of building things, IMHO


I’d originally wanted to use a cross-flow radiator. We went to pick-a-part to survey radiators in many GM cars, but everything was too wide or too tall…time to re-think the whole radiator situation. Since the Trans Am sub is a front steer, the box was right in the way (of the radiator) and the frame rails wouldn’t let me lower a cross flow to miss the hood when it’s closed …my bro and I “built” a radiator…!!!


Well, we didn’t like the looks of a cardboard radiator, so we built another one… Hmmmmmmmmmm, OK, maybe an upright is the only way to go


So, I grabbed some square tubing…and fabbed up a pan mounting point…once I had it all built, it appeared to me that this area would be a great place to mount the oil remote, kill two birds with one stone (or ‘pan’ as the case is)…and once bolted in, it would give me only 14 inch long hoses…and I can access it easily to change the oil and the canister. No mess, no fuss. I mounted it high, up above the bottom of the bumper, so no scraping it when I go over a speed bump.


I mounted the remote, angled the hoses under the sway bar and over to it…and finished it. Then I added a plate to the square tubing so the hood support/latch would bolt in…killing a bunch more birds. Keep in mind, that all the time I’m building all this stuff, I have to be aware that everything I put in place HAS to be removable and able to be replaced, in the case of an accident (fingers crossed, knock on wood), so, that alone, some times, takes a lot of figuring…and never let anyone tell you putting in a sub-frame is easy…well, wait, hold on…putting it in is much easier than making all the original stuff fit it and look like it was made that way…!!! THAT, I think, is the whole secret…to making a car look nice.


At that point, I trimmed out a sheet metal ‘pan’ to fit in front of the radiator, then I made some new metal side pieces and welded them alongside my radiator support…that done, I made some cardboard templates so I could bend up some side pieces out of sheet metal to cover the frame rails and steering box…I clamped a pipe into the vise and Dan (my bro) and I hand bent the two pieces around the pipe so it’d have a nice curve to them. I welded in a couple of bungs on each and used some button head bolts to hold them in.

There, that looks a hell of a lot nicer than having those ugly Pontiac frame horns hanging out there.


After some measurements were taken, I took the stock ’55 hood support/latch mechanism off and narrowed it four inches, that allowed enuff room to mount an A/C condenser in front of the radiator (always have to think ahead…sometimes way ahead, ya know?)


…I do a lot of rod running in the summertime…so A/C is a requisite item, I’m not a youngster anymore, I like it livable cool.

I built a cross brace in front of the radiator and then shortened the original hood support piece 6 inches…welded it all back together and bolted it in. It fit like it was made for it…and it was…!!!


Now that my living room is getting full of Cadillac parts, just the opposite is happening in my garage. It sure is strange to walk into my garage and listen to an echo…for the first time in months, with both Caddys gone, it was empty…but no matter, I still had work to do. I put one front fender up on the table, masked it off and sprayed paint and undercoating on the inside of the fender…that should keep it from rusting and since it’s flat black, hide it from prying eyes…not that anyone will be peering at the inside of the fender once it get all bolted in. The second fender went a bit quicker...






Looks like a brand damn new piece for Pete's sake!


Getting ready to be painted


As you can see, the painter takes all necessary precautions when laying paint...here he is mixing the final color...and at this point I can tell you the paint is gorgeous...and the car is at home...however, it'll be a few days before I start hanging stuff on the car...gotta let it set a bit...


I'm still waiting for several pieces of the car to return home...the trunk and fender skirts...once the trunk returns, I'll hang it...then I think I can start assembling the whole car...




About half way done now...getting closer...and closer...and closer...


The first couple of coats went on very well...I love watching a "pro" work...sure wish I was as concious of what I was doing (all the time) as the painter is...


Here it is, sans a couple more coats of color (four total) and sans clear...and, of course, the polishing of said clear








It took two of us 12 hours to pull the 200# stock power motored seat, rip out the old carpet and sew up the new and install it and the trunk...of course




Last but definitely not least...the engine compartment (and engine/tranny) is ready to go...I have one more thing to do and that is to put on the radiator shroud...but that's not going to take much. I now have 76 miles on the new engine...and will have close to 100 by the time I take it to the glass shop and get it back home.


All the tinted side glass has been cut and is waiting


Last update I told you the Dagmars weren’t going to get done…they didn't and I had to go get them, (3 ˝ hour drive one way...it was actually cheaper than shipping them, other than my time) clean them, sand them up and paint ‘em silver…I couldn't simpy use another pair cuz I'd modified these to fit my grille), stockers weren't going to work. My "paint job" on them looks like dogshit…especially next to the polished grill…and the gorgeous bumper…but I’m bound and determined to drive the Caddy to Salina…and I’m not going to let a lack of chrome keep me home…


Side grille not in here, but the polish on the grille is nice, right...???


As you can see, when you can read the newspaper in the reflection, you know it’s good…I’m happy and for once, someone I depended on got it done. IF you look real close, or enlarge this photo, that dark refelction is the grille and font end of a '59 Caddy.It's also about six feet away from this table and bumper...!!!


So, now…looks like KKOA Salina will be the debut of the Cadillac…IF the new engine will get me there


Was not to be.....After completely busting my ass for the last two plus weeks putting the Caddy back together, and really looking forward to the Salina KKOA 30th Anniversary event, I can definitely say that excrement occurs (or for those of you that prefer plainer English -- "shit happens,") and I can feel right about saying it.


Do I look happy here...???


I thot why not try to raise the engine enuff to eliminate the remote oil filter? Now would be the time to do that. When I first put the engine in, I’d put on a 425” oil pump to aim the filter toward the crank in an attempt to miss the tie rod (that was accomplished, but the knuckle that holds the tie rod to the spindle hits the bottom of the filter)…that’s the major problem, it hits the tie rod when I make a left turn…(if I didn’t have to make left turns, I’d be OK with it the way it is…!!!) BUT, life’s highway doesn’t allow for right turns only all the time…


The "offending" part...I figured a 'remote' was the way to go...education sometimes hurts...!!!


One more fender to pull...it'll get done sometime this week.










One of the first things I did when I finally felt like working on the car again was finish up the trunk…I figured as long as the car was sitting, doing nothing, I had time to build some panels to cover the trunk uglies


As you can see, the panels add a lot to the trunk...Ed is currently making a tire cover for me out of the same material….






I kept the “stock” look of an old AM radio, but have the creature comforts of a modern stereo and I certainly like my tuneage when taking a long trip.


I placed three gauges in a small opening and welded a hinge onto the cover…I kinda figure a Cadillac shouldn’t “need “extra gauges showing anywhere, so built the cover to close it up when parked.




While I was slowly taking care of small projects…I decided to send the modified Dagmars out to Ogden Chrome to finish…


The only other thing I had to modify was the fan shroud I’d built…since I raised the engine, the mechanical fan raised, too…I had to trim an inch off the inside of my newly painted shroud…tore the paint up good…but at that point, that, too, was a minor thing. Besides, the valve covers needed painting so I had that done at the same time…

It took a couple of days to reassemble the front end – my bro is always there to help me, and between the two of us, we got it all shimmed, adjusted and aligned a lot better than it was before we made our ill-fated trip to Salina in July.


Once we had the hood and fenders fitting nicely, I turned to the bumper. Ogden Chrome kept their word and 6 weeks after I’d sent them out, Fed-Ex delivered them to my door…they were absolutely stunning and I couldn’t even tell where I had welded them together, and once in place on the bumper, they really finished off the front of the Caddy

Check out the color and the headlight reflection in those Dagmars now…Ogden Chrome outdid themselves…and for that I am grateful. Thanx Charlie…!!!


The LONG-AWAITED DEBUT of the “ROADLINER” 1955 Cadillac....The Greybeard’s indoor show  in Denver over Thanksgiving weekend




Here’s the Caddy in “full show trim”…!!!


The ’55 Caddy won First Place in “Full Custom Hardtop,” and the one award I was really surprised at receiving : “Outstanding Paint- Custom.”






Awesome 55 cadillac!  Thanks Roger for all the build pics and writeups.

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