Cycle Hauling Classic Caddy
Story and photos by John Gunnell
Richie Clyne was driving through the desert outside Las Vegas when he came across his Cycle Hauling Classic Caddy. It was parked by the side of the road and there was a “firm” price on it. When Clyne started bargaining, the man said he had been insulted and might not sell the Caddy pickup truck. But he did.
The ‘49 Cadillac 62 sedan was professionally converted into a pickup in the early ‘50s by BSA motorcycle dealers Jack Warner and Walt Ball of Portland, Ore. They had it fabricated to haul bikes to racing meets. Standard trucks of the era weren’t well suited for moving motorcycles, so the dealers wanted something that went smoothly down the highway so the bikes didn’t bounce around.
Warner and Ball bought a wrecked ‘49 Caddy model 62 and removed unneeded body panels. The frame was stretched 12 inches. To stay in the GM family, they mated Cadilac sheet metal with a GMC roof and cargo bed. Oldsmobile doors fit after some trimming. “American-British Cycles: BSA Motorcycles” was lettered on the doors with the names of Warner and Ball and their phone number. Since there was open space between the Cadillac rear fenders and truck bed, “sidemount” spare tires were added on each side. The bumper guards folded so the tailgate of the Caddy pickup could be lowered flat.
The low height made loading and unloading motorcycles easier. Three British BSAs could be carried in the bed, with the center one facing opposite the others. Brititish bikes aren’t big Harley cruisers, but to carry the weight of as many as three machines, two additional leaves were added to the rear springs.
The Caddy V-8 was hopped up with a full-race cam, Edelbrock tri-power intake and triple Rayfield carbs. Dress-up items included chrome finned Offenhauser valve covers and Smitty mufflers gave the Caddy a sweet sound.
Clyne had the car refinished in the vintage Olds Chariot Red lacquer that the custom shop squirted 60 years ago. He also addedf six “gangster whitewalls.” Inside there’s a Chariot Red steering wheel and dash (with burled wood trim), Hydra-Matic drive, black leather bench seat and matching carpets. The 110-mph speedometer and all of the other gauges are originals. Naturally, the Caddy carries a vintage BSA motorcycle strapped to the bed for authenticity.
The truck made the pages of the June 1952 issue of Hop Up magazine which noted the original custom fabrication took eight months and cost $5,000. The magazine said the car was a “Highway Jewel” and an “Eye-Popper.” It still is.
This truck was spotted in the desert outside Las Vegas.
The interior is also mainly Chariot Red with black trimmings.
The truck hauled bikes to races and shows all over the country.
An early ‘50s custom shop stretched the frame to create bike hauler.
Caddy hood lifts to reveal a nicely detailed engine bay.
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