Sunday, 7 November 2010

The conspicuous underdog - 'Petit Pataud' Replica 2/2

Today I'll be sharing some details about John Aibels fabulous 'Petit Pataud' Replica 1950 Series 61 Cadillac Coupe, if you missed the story about the original here is a link to yesterdays post.

John found his bottom of the range Series 61 Cadillac with the correct Petit Pataud 121" wheel base in Iowa, it did not have the optional power windows, amazing I had no idea they had even been thought of in 1950, but Johns car was originally fitted with a Hydra - Matic automatic transmission and he went to considerable trouble to locate a correct manual one as used at Le Mans, an item difficult to find because it is also the transmission of choice amongst hot rodders.

Being a volunteer at CAM (The Collier Collection) John was given access to the original and correctly identified the Marchal driving lights, GI two way radio among many other parts, and noted how and where they were correctly installed. It took around a year to meticulously hunt down these items on E-Bay and to collect all the bits and pieces prior to the car being sent to a restoration shop for a three year restoration.

The car is fitted with a roll bar and five point harness though John is a little sceptical about the capability of the drum brakes to handle serious competition, I am not sure he has the Alfin drums and additional brake ducting
Cunningham had fitted to the original.

Apparently the Cunnigham 'Petit Pataud' was used as both a tow car and shop vehicle after its sturdy service at Le Mans, evidence of this can be seen in this link to a photo of the restored original where a chrome tow hitch cover is plain to see under the bumper, also the original no longer has the 35 gallon long range fuel tank and filler as can be clearly seen on the passenger side of Johns car just behind the C pillar.

He says of his car "You are right everytime we drive the car we get the thumbs up and smiles from a lot of people. It also drives great, it is very comfortable, it just soaks up the bumbs on the roads. She rolls like a ship in the turns, but holds very well."

I'd like to thank John for sharing his photo's and thoughts on his marvellous motor car, a reminder of a golden age of optimism, a time when with a few good connections a showroom car fitted with a double barrel carburettor, some French springs, a long range fuel tank and GI two way radio you could compete in one of, if not the most romantic race in the world.

Thanks also again to Chief 187 who so thoughtfully set these last two blogs up for me.

Hope you have enjoyed this weekends extraordinary vehicle, new followers and comments are always appreciated and a useful tool to help me source more for you in future, thanks for dropping by don't forget to come back now !

Slightly off topic, today is a big day for all three contenders in the post season NASCAR Chase for the Cup, covered by less than 40 points the only strategy to win the cup now has to be to win the next three races, looking forward to seeing if Kevin Harvick can step up to the plate and pull it off. Go Harvick ! Go #29 ! Go Happy !

10/11/10 Erratum, I got the model types a bit mixed up and have removed all 'de Ville' references from the text above, the Series 61 shown here is the shorter model known as Type 61 Coupe, not Coupe de Ville which was the Type 62. Apologies for any confusion.


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, Art! Thank you for relaying my dad's story to your readership! I hope you two will be able to bring more stories to life together. In the meantime, continue doing the awesome job you are!

    I'm rooting loudly for Happy over here! Such an exciting Chase and today just may be pivotal in deciding the Championship!

    See you tomorrow!!

  2. Thanks for your support Chief :-)