Cadillac Sedanette Kustom 1948

Cadillac Sedanette Kustom 1948

Story Pekka Polvinen and Jarmo Markkanen V8 Magz.


It is not easy to built streamlined soft top cabriolet, with working roof mechanism, when you start the whole project with B-pilar 40’s fastback Caddy. But Petri Tetrho did it, made the impossible possible.

Petri Terho is one of Finland’s most talented customizers. His cars have won several prizes in Finnish car shows as well as outside the country. Even US car magazines Ol Skool Rodz and Car Kulture DeLuxe have printed features of his Buick 1947 custom. Readers feedback says it all: ”Thank you for showing and publishing this – absolutely stunning, best ever!” One of his kustoms, Buick 1952, was sold USA some years ago.

He had the soft top cabriolet plan in his mind already with his previous custom 1947 Buick Coupe, but it didn’t finally fit in Buick body lines. And he did skip that roof plan. So he decided to try the soft top plan again with 1948 Cadillac Sedanette. Now he made it!


The Cadillac project car was found spring 2018 from Oklahoma and shipped to Finland. Petri had unique way of planning the top chop and other modifications. Visio came on a sunny weekend when he was sitting out in home yard with his wife Tarja. They had some beers, talked about new body lines and drew white lines with chalk on the Caddy panels. In the next morning Cadillac was so full of lines that they coundn’t figure out what was what! But any way Petri got the idea what to do and started the job. Cadillac looked pretty good in first sight, but it really wasn’t. A lot of metal work was needed and complete rocker panels rocker panels etc. New metal was welded almost ten square meters!


Petri has a main principle with all his cars – cars are made for driving! No mater how fine the car is. He made full update to chassis so he can drive several thousands of kilometers with Cadillac every summer. Font disc brakes and steering components are newer model GM parts. Rear end is also new GM product, 10 bolt with 3,23 gears. At the same time rear part of the frame was made stronger. Power disc brakes in every corner take care of stopping. Power comes from 1989 Camaro 350 cid TPI engine. It is an incredible achievement that Petri has made all the modifications and customizing in a small home garage! It takes a lot of creativity. Every now and then he had to take ”art work” out of the garage see to how all the body modifications really looked. It is a must to see the dimensions and body shapes from every angle and look at the Caddy from distance. The biggest idea or inspiration is the soft top roof. And that extraordinary roof really works, too!. The mechanism was taken from Audi A4 which Petri had to make 12,5 cm wider to fit the car. It goes nicely under the trunk cover, and behind the rear seat with help of air-pressure cylinders. The rear window of the roof has stainless steel frames made by Petri to fit body shapes.


The most challenging part of body modifications was the rear end of the car. The trunk cover was made of 1949–53 Chevrolet pickup bonnet! Rear tail lights are Petri’s own design with stainless steel frames. Other parts of Petri’s design and manufacture are small stainless steel lists under the rear lights, rear view mirror rods, ventilation window handles etc. Petri used a lot of time and planning to manufacture all the small details. Like the door handles that are made of three stainless steel tubes. The oval shape follows/has got the inspiration from original Cadillac handles. A-pillars lean backwards but the windshield is in original measures. The middle section of the rear bumper is original, but the bumper ends upper sections are from 1955 Chevrolet and the lower sections are from 1952 Pontiac. The upper bar between the ”cones” got it’s shapes from 1947 Buick and 1955 Chevy parts. Body side moldings are handmade from ”straight” steel sheet metal and chrome. Petri kept the original front bumper with exception of handmade ”cones” that follow better the body shapes. The grille is another masterpiece and tells a lot of Petri’s talent to work with metal. Upper ”lip” is modified from 1952 Pontiac’s cabin upholstery part. The center part is taken from 1959 Buick grille. The flying lady in the grille is designed and handmade from stainless steel by Petri. Parking lights in the front end are actually 1954 Buick backing lights.


The Center console is another clever detail. It was made of 1950/60’s Solifer Export moped frame and gas tank! The front part of the console is a piece of Solifers rear fender. He finished the console and upholstery with many unique handmade stainless steel details: Jaguar XJ shifter frame, steering wheel column levers, discant speaker frames… The steering wheel itself is from 1965/66 Rambler with a Cadillac horn lever. Nice looking and very comfortable seats are from 70’s Jaguar XJ. A modern music player and efficient air conditioner are hidden from all eyes. The paint color was found from the Lincoln color map and is 2020 Aviator ”Flight Blue Metallic”. Under the car, we find American Classic white wall radials. Hub caps are from 1959 Cadillac.


Cadillac was completed and finished in spring 2022. It took Petri three years to build the custom. Cadillac debuted in the Easter FHRA American Car Show in Helsinki and was elected to a well-earned place in Top 10. As Petri promised, he and Tarja have been on the road a lot during the summer. Cadillac was seen in many summer events. ”Cars like to be driven! I don’t build customs as show or garage decoration”, says Petri and reveals that hehas already a new project in mind.


It is easy to imagine Petri’s Cadillac to 1940’s Motorama show as a vision of the future. Fender skirts Petri made from steel plate. To a custom car belongs strong and distinct paint. Petri’s Cadillac was painted with elegant Lincoln Aviator ”Flight Blue Metallic” change it’s tone by the amount of light. Hub caps are from 1959 Cadillac. Petri designed the rear lights and he made the frames of stainless steel. Lenses are made of polycarbonate. The soft top is based on Audi A4 mechanism and comes up and goes down with the help of air-pressure cylinders. The roof fits to the streamlined Cadillac like always has been there. The Center console was built of 1950/60’s Solifer Export-moped frame and gas tank. Petri is no brand fanatic or what do you think of 19’65/66 Rambler steering wheel, Cadillac horn and power window mechanism from Peugeot 407. Gauges and radio are original Cadillac. It is hard to believe or understand how this small garage comes out world-class customs. Regularly. Can you imagine that the starting point was 2d Sedanette?