It seems like old school Cadillacs have become a popular platform for restomod builders all over the country over the past few years. For example, there was the drop dead gorgeous 1949 supercharged Caddy that we declared one of the best restomod builds we’ve come across for quite some time. It had the perfect combination of old and new that made it incredibly appealing. Then there was the 1950 Wet Sound Caddy that was built for use as a wakeboard boat tow rig with a Cummins diesel providing the power. And now we’ve come across another white Cadillac restomod, only this one is a 1948.
This particular car was built by the famous Ringbrothers shop founded by Jim and Mike Ring. They are one of the most respected names in the restomod world and have built numerous cars that have dominated major car shows around the country for years. They’ve even won awards at SEMA, which speaks volumes to their quality of work. And they followed that same trend with this badass 1948 Cadillac that carries the name “Madame V.” It was featured at the 2016 SEMA show where it was awarded as one of the top 10 cars at the show. Not only does this car have the build quality of a high-end factory car, but as with most restomods, it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The car has an interesting back story. It was built for Wes Rydell, who owns a string of General Motors car dealerships and Wes wanted to have what he thought is the ultimate Cadillac restomod. He decided that he wanted to combine the reliability and modern comforts of a brand new Caddy, but with that old school look, which of course is one of the most appealing things about a restomod. Wes wasn’t necessarily looking for a Hot Rod, but instead, something more along the lines of a unique and custom daily driver that has a little pep in its step.
For those of you with a keen eye, you might’ve noticed the “V” badging on the car. That’s not referencing the car’s name, but instead more like the beating heart of the car. Underneath those beautiful old school body lines sits a Cadillac V performance car, but not the CTS-V like most people would assume. Instead, it’s actually the ATS-V, technically two of them. Wes used his GM connections to track down a small handful of donor cars, two 1948 Caddys, and two ATS-V’s. One of which was a slightly used 2015 model and the other was a brand spanking new, at the time, 2016 model. The Ringbrothers took all four of those cars and pieced them together to create the masterpiece you see here today.
Speed and power freaks of the world are losing their minds right now, realizing that rather than a wicked forced induction screaming V8 under the hood, it’s actually a twin turbo V6. This might seem like heartbreaking news, especially considering the ATS-V’s older brother, the CTS-V has a 6.2L supercharged V8 that puts out 640hp and 630lb-ft of torque right from the factory. But there is a reason behind the decision to go with the V6, and it’s a pretty good one. And as far as V6’s go, the twin turbo 3.2L in the ATS-V is no slouch. It produces 464hp and 420lb-ft of torque which can still throw you back in the seat when you put your foot to the floor.
Wes did a significant amount of research on the 1948 Caddilac and was determined the find the perfect modern car to fit what he had in his mind. He apparently wanted a car that was as close to the factory OEM car as possible, while also going as far as he could on the badassery scale. The CTS-V was his first choice, but when he realized that it would require narrowing the track width in order for it to fit underneath the 1948 Caddy body. But magically, the ATS-V fit almost like it was designed to be that way from the beginning.
When I say the underneath is an ATS-V, I literally mean everything. Apparently, the Ringbrothers started with the 2015 model and stripped it bare, then started building the 1948 around it. But don’t go thinking that it’s as simple as slapping a 1948 body onto the working parts of a 2015 Caddilac. It’s significantly more difficult that. These new cars don’t have a frame chassis like they did in the old days. Now everything is built using sub-frames that are pieced together. So the daunting task for Ringbrothers was to figure out a way to mesh the two very different pieces together and make it look it was always that way.
Where the 2015 ATS was used for the structural part of the underside of the car, everything else was brought over from the 2016. And again, I do mean everything. It of course has the motor and 8-speed automatic transmission, but they also figured out how to bring over all the electronic aids like traction control, stability control and have them work like they did on the factory car. Madame V also got the full suspension system and brakes from the 2016 donor as well. Like I said, underneath, this thing is a 2016 model year car.
That trend carries over into the interior of the car as well. If you were blindfolded until you sat in the car before taking it off, you would absolutely think you were sitting in a brand new car. That’s because the entire interior of the 2016 donor car was brought over and installed in the 1948. Now if I’m honest, I’m not normally a fan of this type of thing because I feel like having the old looks with the modern touches is incredibly appealing. However, you’d have to be a fool to not be a huge fan of this interior. With the all black leather and the contrast of the white car, it looks fantastic. But as with the rest of the car, although looks were important, the main goal was to maintain a factory level of function and usability.
What really sets a great build apart from a mediocre build is the attention to detail and the small little nuances that you would never notice if they weren’t pointed out to you. Take for example the headlights on Madame V. At first glance, you can tell they’re smoked out and are most definitely custom. But you’d never know that inside those round headlights sit all the guts from the ATS-V headlights. The talented craftsman at the Ringbrothers shop meticulously removed all the circuit boards and everything else that goes into one of those fancy new headlights and somehow managed to fit it all inside a round headlight. That’s impressive considering the round ones are about half the size of the ones used on the ATS-V. And to make it even more impressive, the headlights on a stock ATS-V move left or right depending on how you move the steering wheel, and so naturally, it had to do the same thing on Madame V. They even managed to get things like the automatic rain sensors to work on the new car.
Just when you think you can’t be more impressed with restomods, a vehicle like Madame V comes along and you suddenly fall in love with them all over again. They really are the best of both worlds.