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Thread: Studillac

  1. #1
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    Studillac

    I'm doing a write up on my uncle's '53 for an upcoming "Tailgating" in TW. When Pat Skelly bought this car a few years ago, I was determined to find the emblems.

    Unfortunately, they really are made of unobtanium.

    So, I made one. Not perfect, but it'll work for what we need it for.



    Here's a real one. Photo provided by Dick Quinn.



    I'd still REALLY like to find a real one to have copied. There's only so much one can do with a picture, a piece of rubber, and tin foil. [)]

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA

    Matthew Burnette

  2. #2
    President Member silverhawk's Avatar
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    Hey, it don't look too bad! Looking forward to that article!

    Dylan Wills


    '61 lark deluxe 4 door wagon

  3. #3
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    Matthew that is a nice job on the emblem!I bought a 53 hardtop when I was 13 and was told it was a Studillac.I still have the unrestored car,no VIN and cant read the frame so cant verify.A guy had a restored chassis at a Natl meet in S.Bend years ago and told me some things to look for on my car.After looing I dont think that mine was real,Oh well still love the car.Ed

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    Ed, email me your phone number. I'd like to talk to you about it. mbstude@gmail.com

    Even if yours had a serial number, that wouldn't help to document it as a Bill Frick car. I went so far as to contact Bill Jr., and specifically asked him if there was any way to document a Studillac as a car his dad built. He said there isn't. His dad was too busy building them to record any numbers, or to try keeping track of any of them.

    The frame you saw was probably Bob Bee's. Anybody know where his car is now?

    And one thing to remember on these cars.. Frick built them all to suit to customer's wants and desires. No two were alike. Makes the mystery that much more interesting.



    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  5. #5
    Golden Hawk Member JDP's Avatar
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    Real Studilac's have panel with a bunch of bog power resistors on a panel to power the 6 volt stuff off 12 volts. BTW, there are companies on the net that can custom make the script.
    We had a local guy start a frame off on a real one, but I think he passed away, but someone may have the script off that one to copy. He had accumulated more Studilac data than anyone.

    JDP/Maryland

  6. #6
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    If you have the design one of those shops who use Laser Cutting could do it.

    John Clements
    Avantilover, your South Australian Studebaker lover!!!
    Lockleys South Australia

  7. #7
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by JDP

    Real Studilac's have panel with a bunch of bog power resistors on a panel to power the 6 volt stuff off 12 volts. BTW, there are companies on the net that can custom make the script.
    We had a local guy start a frame off on a real one, but I think he passed away, but someone may have the script off that one to copy. He had accumulated more Studilac data than anyone.

    JDP/Maryland
    John,

    Was that 'Studillac' Mel Boettcher (sp?) that you are referring to? If so, what happened to his car?

    Paul
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Visit The NEW Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

  8. #8
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    Bob Bee {R.I.P.} was the owner of the restored Studillac chassis that many remember seeing. JDP I believe is correct about the large bank of voltage dropping resistors that were enclosed in a metal mesh type of rectangular box. jimmijim

    Stude Junkie+++++++Do it right the f$$$$ Time. Never mind. Just do it right. When youre done your done. You'll know it.

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    The emblem looks good Matt, although the U, L amd I letters
    are a bit sharper on the top on the original Studillac emblem.

    Michael Bostedt
    Sweden

  10. #10
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    That's pretty sharp for rubber and Reynold's wrap. How much time did you spend on it? LH

    "I'm allergic to small block Chevys."

    edited to correct typo

  11. #11
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    Looks good Matt!

    Studebaker classifieds! www.studeswap.com



  12. #12
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    Bob Bee and Mel Boettcher both had original Frick Studillacs. Both men are now dead and I have not heard of the whereabouts of either car. There is another barn find for Bob A. up his way.

    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  13. #13
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    I only spent a couple of hours on it.

    Michael in Sweden.. Just for the sake of asking, do you have one of these emblems? I know you were a great help when I first started researching these cars.

    I'd love to know where those 2 (once) known Studillacs are at now.

    Today I drove to my uncle's house, and felt inside the front fenders for bondoed up emblem holes. No luck. [xx(]

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  14. #14
    Golden Hawk Member JDP's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by mbstude

    I only spent a couple of hours on it.

    Michael in Sweden.. Just for the sake of asking, do you have one of these emblems? I know you were a great help when I first started researching these cars.

    I'd love to know where those 2 (once) known Studillacs are at now.

    Today I drove to my uncle's house, and felt inside the front fenders for bondoed up emblem holes. No luck. [xx(]

    Matthew Burnette

    Matthew, if it's the same car I'm thinking of, it's a Caddy powered Studebaker, but does not appear to be a Bill Finch car.
    Hazlehurst, GA

    JDP/Maryland

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    JP, ours is the car that Pat Skelly owned. After doing tons of research, we have more reason to believe it is a Frick car. Read all about our findings in a future Turning Wheels.

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  16. #16
    Golden Hawk Member JDP's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by mbstude

    JP, ours is the car that Pat Skelly owned. After doing tons of research, we have more reason to believe it is a Frick car. Read all about our findings in a future Turning Wheels.

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA

    Most Caddy swaps won't have the correct year 331 Caddy, early Hydromatic or CadLasalle stick and resistor pack, but the experts can tell you for sure. Even if the car was updated from the twin battery six volt, you'll still have signs of where they were mounted. Back in South Bend, there were a few dozen locally made cars after the magazines showed how to build a "Studillac". I helped make 2 myself, but one was in a 52 Starliner HT.
    BTW, your Studillac web site is a excellent clearing house for these rare cars, keep it up.

    JDP/Maryland

  17. #17
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    As you might remember JP, this car does have a 1953 331 and the LaSalle 3 speed. Where were the resister packs located? I glanced under the hood of our car today, but didn't look for anything like that. It has a 12V battery, relocated to the pass. side fender.

    Who is the "expert" on these cars? I've talked to everyone I know of that might have some clues. While our car has a million clues that point it to being a Frick car, there's nothing that absolutely pins it down. Just recently my uncle was poking around and found a filled hole for a spotlight, which was also an option Frick had available.

    Thanks for the comments on the site. I need to update it again as I do have some new info. I was just recently told of a car in NY with a Frick builder plate under the hood. I need to call that guy and see what the story is.

    I'm really hoping that the TW article will hopefully bring some information out of the woodwork. The PO owned this car in college back in 1965, and kept it until he passed away 20 years ago. He fully restored the car in '89.

    I have decided that if this car is not a Frick car, it's one VERY close, well built copy.

    BTW.. Does anyone have any pictures of the frame from Bob Bee's car? I'd like to compare engine mounts to the ones in our car.

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  18. #18
    Golden Hawk Member JDP's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by mbstude

    As you might remember JP, this car does have a 1953 331 and the LaSalle 3 speed. Where were the resister packs located? I glanced under the hood of our car today, but didn't look for anything like that. It has a 12V battery, relocated to the pass. side fender.

    Who is the "expert" on these cars? I've talked to everyone I know of that might have some clues. While our car has a million clues that point it to being a Frick car, there's nothing that absolutely pins it down. Just recently my uncle was poking around and found a filled hole for a spotlight, which was also an option Frick had available.

    Thanks for the comments on the site. I need to update it again as I do have some new info. I was just recently told of a car in NY with a Frick builder plate under the hood. I need to call that guy and see what the story is.

    I'm really hoping that the TW article will hopefully bring some information out of the woodwork. The PO owned this car in college back in 1965, and kept it until he passed away 20 years ago. He fully restored the car in '89.

    I have decided that if this car is not a Frick car, it's one VERY close, well built copy.

    BTW.. Does anyone have any pictures of the frame from Bob Bee's car? I'd like to compare engine mounts to the ones in our car.

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA

    Someone must know more about Bee's car. The 12 volts system was a option, but I think most had it:

    "Frick stayed in New York to plan his new project and that project was to be called the Studillac. Of course the new “Loewy” coupes and hardtops set the car world on its ear with their dramatic styling (by Robert Bourke) in 1953. Studebaker had introduced its new V8 in their 1951 cars but the 120 horsepower seemed pretty anemic when compared to the 210 available in the ‘53 Cadillac power plant. Bill did some measuring and found that the engines were almost identical in exterior dimensions and the 50 extra lbs. of the Cadillac V8 would pose no problems with the Studebaker suspension. By repositioning the steering box slightly, moving the floorboard tunnel and replacing the Studebakers transmission cross member with one from a ’37 Chevy the job was almost done. Frick replaced the 11” front and 9” rear brakes with ’53 Mercury 11” Bendix brakes (a $250 option but apparently performed on most all the cars he built). The two-piece drive shaft was replaced with a one-piece job ... The only exception was the Studillac script that was placed on the front fenders slightly above and forward of the vent opening. It is uncertain how many of the cars carried this script but the late Robert Bee’s car had one ... Evidence suggests the dealer from whom most of the cars were purchased was Balport Motors located at 425 West Sunrise Highway in Freeport, New York ... The conversions required about three days to complete ... According to Bob [Bee]’s estimates, 80-100 cars were built in the 1953 model year and approx. 180 of the ‘54’s ... The price for the complete conversion was $1500 or $1995 if you wanted the optional Hydramatic transmission used in place of the 3-speed manual column shift. If purchased as a complete unit (meaning you did not already have the car) the cost was $3750. This included a radio, heater, directional signals, and a Cadillac manual transmission. Bill also offered quite a list of special options to go with the conversions. These included the floor shift with manual trans $250, special leather top $450, pleated leather dashboard $135, wire wheels (bolt on) $318, Borrani wire wheels $630, 12 volt electrical system $200, tachometer $70, Special 11” diameter brakes $250, Special 3.31 to 1 rear end ratio $250, Marcal headlamps $21.60. Frick claimed a top speed of 125 M.P.H. and 0 to 60 in 8.5 seconds. Tom McCahill said, “It will even run away from an XK 120 J

  19. #19
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    Well crap, JP... Our car has a modified trans tunnel too.



    The mystery continues...

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  20. #20
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    When optioning a Studillac with a floor shift the stick sat
    so close to the front seat so Bill had to do a cut out in the seat.
    Without it you couldn't shift gear. The way this shifter is placed is
    not the way Bill built them. If you look at the pictures posted
    on this forum earlier on a 1955 Studillac from the South Bend area
    that's the way Bill did the cut out in the seat.

    Michael Bostedt
    Gavle, Sweden

  21. #21
    Golden Hawk Member JDP's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by Michael

    When optioning a Studillac with a floor shift the stick sat
    so close to the front seat so Bill had to do a cut out in the seat.
    Without it you couldn't shift gear. The way this shifter is placed is
    not the way Bill built them. If you look at the pictures posted
    on this forum earlier on a 1955 Studillac from the South Bend area
    that's the way Bill did the cut out in the seat.

    Michael Bostedt
    Gavle, Sweden
    That shifter seems way too far forward for any of the LaSalle stick installations I've ever seen.

    JDP/Maryland

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    I once saw a genuine Studillac. This was circa 1960 so my memory could be jaded. I seem to recall a tag, under the hood identifying it as such. This was at a Shell station in west Dearborn Michigan. I would occasionally hang out there and was probably enjoying a small bottle of Coke. I never saw the car again. Around that time, there was a '53 cad powered Stude, that lived in Ecorse. The builder was kind of a guru to the teenagers, in the neighborhood. I sold my '55 President to him and it was to be built for one of these kids, with same treatment; Caddy engine, '53 front end sheet metal. I have reoccuring dreams that I get this car back. I want to think some poor widow is stuck with it in the garage. If anyone knows about this car, let me know. Give me first dibs, OK?

    Gary Hildebrandt

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    The guy that once owned that '55, wrote several letters to the owner of our car. My uncle has all of them. Included are detailed descriptions of the shifter and seat cutout, as well as hand drawn images.

    Heh, maybe Frick was still learning all the tricks when he built this one. [)]

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  24. #24
    President Member silverhawk's Avatar
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    Hey Matt,JDP says you have a website for them, can you post a link?

    Dylan Wills


    '61 lark deluxe 4 door wagon

  25. #25
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    http://thestudillac.blogspot.com/

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


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    Found in the stack of letters and paperwork that came with the car. Mel had written the owner several detailed letters about his '55 Speedster Studillac, the one that was posted on here recently.

    Matthew Burnette
    Hazlehurst, GA


  27. #27
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    When I built mine back in the 50's, I used a 37 LaSalle transmission.. The picture represents where my shift lever was at.. The shift lever knob was at eye level.. My transmission crossmember was a piece of 3 inch wide channel iron bolted to the frame with 4 3/8 X 6" bolts.. Took a 57 Olds 2 piece drive shaft and made a 1 piece shaft(no slip yoke on trannie) Used 1949 Caddie engine mounts and redrilled the frame perch.. And that was just the start..

  28. #28
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    Matt's article in the Jan. 2010 Turning Wheels about Bill Frick and Studillacs was very interesting. A recent letter from a friend, John, who grew up in the NY/NJ area shared a story about a family car. His dad's 1953 Jaguar Mark VII had recurring engine problems and it was in the shop frequently while still under warranty. He said his dad tied a string to the accelerator pedal, so he could pull up on it when it would stick. Today, Toyota is looking for a different remedy! John said his brother wrote to Bill Frick regarding an engine swap. Frick responded with prices for swaps with either a Cadillac or a Studebaker engine. I would guess he had a lot of Studebaker engines on hand. I had friends that had a new XK120 in that era and it was a trouble-free car and one of my favorites for its design.

    "It's like deja vu all over again."--Yogi Berra

  29. #29
    President Member 53k's Avatar
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    I stumbled on Bob Bee's '54 Studillac just after he had bought it, but before he picked it up. It was in an open lean-to of a barn on a very remote farm in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont, Maryland (not too far from Camp David). I had gone to investigate a story that some weirdo had salted away about 20 bulletnoses in the woods behind the barn. I took quite a few pictures of the car and I clearly remember the Studillac emblems on it. It was pretty rough overall. As I remember it had two four barrels with one air cleaner off to the right and the other off to the left. I think it was a Hydramatic car. The tach went where the clock would normally be. I don't remember a resistor bank, but it could have been there. The pictures I took in those days were 35mm slides. If I get a chance I'll try to find them, but it will be a BIG job.
    Oh yeah, the weirdo. He did have 20 bulletnoses, all driven in to the woods over the years. He had '50, '51 and '52 Commander convertibles. The top was gone on the '51 and a tree was growing through the floor of the '52. Weirdo's daily driver was a '50 Land Cruiser with a 283 and Powerslide.[V][V]



    Paul Johnson, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. '64 Daytona Wagonaire, '64 Daytona convertible, '53 Commander Starliner, Museum R-4 engine, '62 Gravely Model L, '72 Gravely Model 430


  30. #30
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    I found that Studeliac in 1982 when at the Gettysburg SDC national meet. I heard that there was a 41 at a salvage yard in that area and made a trip. They did not have any Studes but told me of the guy in the mountians. I did find all those bullet noses and the studeliac.I had no interset at the time but did take a couple photos. I had my wife hold the hood open when I took the photo of the motor. A mouse ran down the fender but I did not tell her or she would have dropped the hood. I also shot the fender nameplate. Years later I told Bob Bee it was there and he and bought it. The photos were used in TW at one time.

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    There is so much miss information on here it's pitiful. I told Bob Bee (May he RIP) all I knew about Studillacs and what he's said has been twisted and miss quoted Bob and I became very good friends when He got his Studillac and found my name and phone # in it I told him Bill Fricks name and address And he became friends with him.

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    It like this, if you own a Studebaker with a caddy engine in it, you have a caddybaker. If you own a studebaker, Bill Frick built you have a Studillac, It's that simple. I have a problem with someone with a caddybaker putting on a studillac emblem or trying to make a caddybaker a stuillac.

  33. #33
    President Member ddub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandhawk View Post
    There is so much miss information on here it's pitiful. I told Bob Bee (May he RIP) all I knew about Studillacs and what he's said has been twisted and miss quoted Bob and I became very good friends when He got his Studillac and found my name and phone # in it I told him Bill Fricks name and address And he became friends with him.
    Maybe you can supply the correct info.
    Don Wilson
    53 Commander Hardtop
    63 Avanti R1
    64 Champ 1/2 ton
    Centralia, WA

  34. #34
    Speedster Member parts's Avatar
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    The first "real car" I was going to buy..in 1966 when a teen was a Studillac.. I remember the badges..but could be they were put on a home built. I was 17 and just wanted the car..didn't know much about them. It was fast but had some rust..(Chicago).
    I remember it as sort of Cream color..but it is a long time. My uncles and Dad talked me out of it.."not original engine" etc..

    I have wanted a 53 Coupe ever since. Ironically my car though SBC powered had Cadillac script SBC valve covers..which I removed.
    The builder di an excellent job..and he is getting them back..very soon..

    Would like to read more about these Studillac conversions..

    searching..
    AKA
    Ken

  35. #35
    Speedster Member PeterHawk's Avatar
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    I have a picture of the Studillac emblem from the Boettcher car. As soon as I figure out how to attach it, I will post it.

    Peter Bishop
    Iroquois Chapter
    NYS Regional Manager,
    Northeast Zone

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    A Studillac build would be a fun, rather easy project. The key, of course, would be to find the correct period Cadillac engine and associated parts. An Eldorado with dual quads could be had for $50-$250 dollars years ago......
    Today a 'collector' would probably ask $10,000 for that same hunk of iron!

  37. #37
    President Member cultural infidel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandhawk View Post
    There is so much miss information on here it's pitiful. I told Bob Bee (May he RIP) all I knew about Studillacs and what he's said has been twisted and miss quoted Bob and I became very good friends when He got his Studillac and found my name and phone # in it I told him Bill Fricks name and address And he became friends with him.
    Are you going to share the real information?


    Also, are there any pictures of these cars? Or is that part of the mystery?

  38. #38
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    Has anyone notice that the 3 or 4 owners of the known existing Studillacs haven't posted any info on the forums. I can't speak for the others but I wouldn't be surprised if they feel like I do. I would love to look at a studebaker with a caddy in it and tell the owner this is a Frick Studillac. I did this with the owner of the 55 studillac in Ind. I do not like to hear of someone with a caddybaker trying to pass it off as a Frick Studillac. This dose happen. For that reason I am careful as to how much detail I give out. I guess I am a little paranoid. Almost all the Studillacs had the little black plastic plate that said custom installation by Bill Frick 1000 sunrise hwy rockville centre L.I. N.Y. and the phone # this was placed on the fan shroud. This piece is easily reproduced so I omitted the zip and phone # If you have questions ask I sure don't know everything there is to know, even Bill himself had forgotten some things because of time. Also most of the Stidillacs had the merc rear witch gave the 11: brakes and the heavy duty rear The emblems on mine were up behind the rear quarter windows in place of the paint line script I have one of these emblems brand new it's never been on a car, I received it from Ted schell a fellow that did the wiring for Frick. If you have questions I will try to answer them. Tom Portesy

  39. #39
    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandhawk View Post
    Has anyone notice that the 3 or 4 owners of the known existing Studillacs haven't posted any info on the forums.
    Do we know if these 3 or 4 owners even frequent the forum?
    Paul
    Winston-Salem, NC
    Visit The Studebaker Skytop Registry website at: www.studebakerskytop.com

  40. #40
    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    This is a wonderful thread. I have always heard of the Studillacs but never of a Caddybaker. I had no idea that there is thought to be an exclusive right to use the term Studillac by Frick built cars.

    I have a little Caddy knowledge from back when I had six of them and was hot on them. A comment: if it was a column shifted caddy transmission it would be from a post war Caddy probably. The cars with the Lasalle transmission would have the shifter like in the above picture, sprouting from the transmission and closer to the dash. The cars with the shifter near the seat would be using the later Caddy trans with an aftermarket floor shifter added. It sounds to me as if you could have gotten the transmission one of three ways from Frick: on the column, on the floor with an aftermarket shifter and thus the shifter would be near the seat or with lasalle tranny and the shifter coming right out of the tranny close to the dash. This is just my pondering based on my background knowledge and what has been written here in this thread.

    I had no idea there was so much information out there about Frick's cars.

    I read an article a few years ago about Frick. I believe he raced under the name "Ted Tappet and was an excellent race driver, even competing at LeMans. Briggs Cunningham wanted to enter a Fordillac there but the officials would not recognize it as a stock vehicle so Cunningham entered the two 1950 Caddys in 1950 and had respectable finishes with a tenth and eleventh place with his two caddies, beating such cars a Ferraris since his car finished and many faster cars did not. His cars were not strictly stock. The two door sedan had two two barrel carbs and a few other minor modifications. The second car had a complete fabricated low streamlined body of aluminum built by some engineers from Grumman on their spare time. The second car also had about five two barrel carbs. I visited the Collier museum in Florida about twenty years ago and with their permission crawled all over the cad coupe car and took pictures of everything on it.

    The Grumman bodied car was pretty cool with the fabricated body. It had a racing bucket seat and full instrumentation like a proper race car but retained the caddy column shifter.

    Cunningham was quite a guy. Quiet and unassuming and well loved by the people who worked with him. He drove about 22 of the 24 hours of the 1950 race IIRC because he felt that Bill Speer might not be able to nurse the aluminum bodied car to the finish since it had had the transmission damaged very early in the race after being stuffed into a sand trap and all but high gear being ripped out. Cunningham was a real competitor. He also sailed and won the America cup somewhere in those years as well.

    The stock bodied caddy has a tow hitch on the back. After competing at LeMans it was used to tow other race cars to races in later years. It has a 52 four barrel setup on the engine and duals running the 52 exhaust manifolds now. I don't remember if the engine is still the 50 engine that raced at LeMans or not. the aftermarket Marchal driving lights mounted on the front bumper have little blocks of wood carved as adaptors to fit the curve of the caddy bumper and the front seat has a non stock adjustment screw for the seat back angle they must have added. The car also has slightly different leaf springs from what was on most Caddys of the era. I thought they might be export springs as offered when cars went to Europe.

    I wrote an article about it for the Cadillac club newsletter back then but they did not publish it because I only had color photos and they needed black and white to print it in their magazine.

    I believe Frick quit racing after a friend died in a crash....perhaps it was the 1955 Mercedes crash at LeMans that killed about a hundred people.
    Last edited by t walgamuth; 03-29-2013 at 06:44 PM.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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