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Russell Creason loves classic cars, and especially convertibles. He has owned a number of them, including a very rare 1939 Buick Redfern Saloon Tourer, but his current fascination is a 1949 Cadillac Series 62 convertible, which he has nicknamed Big Blue.
Creason, of Kansas City, worked for General Motors for 31 years. He retired as director of human resources for the international division. Although he is no longer in the car business, he thoroughly enjoys sliding behind the wheel of his ragtop classic for a leisurely drive with his wife, Marge.
Creason is a longtime member of the Classic Car Club of America. He said his friends tease him about owning a 1949 because, technically, the classic era ended in 1948. Creason bought his car at the Kruse auction in Auburn, Ind., in 1987, and while it may not be a true classic, he bought it because 1949 was a great year for almost every manufacturer, he said. He loves the Cadillacs design, which was the work of Harley Earl. The pontoon rear fenders and tailfins were inspired by a Lockheed Lightning P-38 fighter plane. The design is just stunning and has always appealed to me, he said.
It seems that 1949 was a postwar reawakening of the automobile industry, and the Cadillac represented a dramatic change. The styling was beautiful, but the car was mechanically revolutionary because that was the first year for the lightweight, overhead-valve V-8 engine. The 331-cubic-inch engine had 160 horsepower, and, according to Tom McCahill in Mechanix Illustrated, it could push the Caddy to 60 miles per hour in 12.1 seconds, which was fast for the day. The top speed was about 105 mph.
The new engine was a reflection of Cadillacs tradition of engineering excellence, and it went on to be used in a variety of racing applications, including the 1950 24 Hours of LeMans in France. Briggs Cunningham entered two cars in the 1950 race. One was a stock-bodied coupe and the other was a streamlined roadster with a handmade body. The French called that car Le Monstre. The coupe finished 10th and Le Monstre was 11th.
Creasons French Gray convertible is the picture of elegance. It has about 90,000 miles, and much of the car is still original. After buying it 17 years ago, Creason rechromed some of the trim, put on a new top and tuned up the engine. He did have it repainted not long ago.
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