A few days ago Jay Leno’s Garage featured a technological marvel. A Ringbrother’s creation, it’s a 1948 Cadillac with modern Cadillac engine, suspension and interior. Essentially creating a modern vehicle inside a classic shell – always a great idea for car modifiers and restorers and one of the most difficult types of jobs to pull off.

Only one problem: It is ugly as hell.

And here’s my top three reasons why:

  1. The Ringbrothers, talented as they are, approached this from a solely technical point of view. They were given a challenging job and so they went to work figuring out how to do it which is exactly what they’re paid to do, sure. But that job order overlooked including any of the charm and poise of the older model. Cadillacs are known for their style and panache as much if not more so than technical capability, so to completely overlook that is like looking at the Mona Lisa and focusing on only the excellent brushstrokes. The fact the Cadillac’s wings were cut – the very claim to fame of this brand – is testament to how they missed the point of what a Cadillac is.
  2. At 10:86, one of the brothers was talking about the owner’s inconsistency. He first wanted them to use a grill from a ’49 model, then later on allowed the brothers to choose something else. Jay laughed about this and said how it was ‘so odd’ the owner would say something like ‘do it the way I want it’, and then later on say ‘you guys do it the way you want it’. Inconsistency produces bad results. Conversely the best projects involve an individual with a highly specific non – compromising vision of how he wants things done, and the lack of this shows in the result here.
  3. Finally, the same brother was asking Jay questions about the older Cadillac. This is shocking to me because it just goes to show how little to no research was done with regard to again, maintaining any of the older model’s charm. I doubt he even tried to drive one, which would have been necessary to figure out what makes the car special to begin with. Whether he’ll appreciate it or not is not sure, but he should at least try to see what the older car was all about. This is what makes really good artists, painters, sculptures, engineers, architects and car makers. The extra time put in to learn and appreciate the appeal of certain things opens up your mind to new stuff, new concepts, new design and a different way of thinking. To merely focus on the tech is to miss out on a whole world of important detail.

Recently I couldn’t take my eyes of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale when it was featured, and when Jay Leno showcased a ’63 Lola MK6 GT the other week I felt some real gratitude, because there really is no other way most ordinary people will be able to feast their eyes on such a rare and unique beauty.

I’ve come to expect no less from Jay, so for him to come up with this one makes me scratch my head.