On the outside, the 1949 Cadillac was little different from the 1948. The big news for the 1949 model year was under the hood, where Cadillac offered the first modern V-8 engine of the postwar era. Replacing the conventional L-head V-8 design was a completely new engine with overhead valves and hydraulic valve lifters. This engine and a smaller, slightly less efficient version produced by Oldsmobile were the first of the mass-produced high-speed, high-compression overhead-valve V-8s that were to become commonplace in the North American car market. The 1949 was also one of the earliest Cadillacs with tail fins, ornaments that 10 years later would reach skyscraper proportions and make Cadillac emblematic of 1950s Detroit. The top-of-the-line Fleetwood 60 Special was available only in a four-door sedan.

THE SPECS

Price $3,828

Engine 331-cubic-inch overhead-valve V-8

Horsepower 160 at 3,800 rpm

Wheelbase 133 inches

Passenger capacity 6

HISTORICAL FACTS

Year 1949

President Harry S. Truman

Median family income $3,107

Dow Jones industrial average (year-end) 200.10

Academy Award movie "All the King's Men"

Milestone President's salary

raised to $100,000