General Motors' 1948 body design featured tail fins inspired by the P38 Lockheed fighter plane. 1949 brought a new OHV engine. Billed as "Cadillac's greatest engineering achievement in 45 years," an all-new overhead valve V8 engine marked its debut in the 1949 Cadillac line. This new engine boasted higher performance, better fuel economy and smoother operation in a lighter, smaller displacement engine.
It was a highly successful powerplant that would become the engine of choice for start-up manufacturer Muntz (see Appendix I: Minor Makes), and for many custom car builders throughout the early fifties.
The season's other big announcement was the addition of Cadillac's first two-door hardtop model. In what would become a tradition among all manufacturers, the new hardtop was given a glamorous or luxurious sounding designation befitting their top of the line status. For Cadillac this nameplate would be the Series 62 "Coupe de Ville." This new body style was shared with the Buick Roadmaster Riviera and the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday hardtops and early on was commonly referred to as a "hardtop convertible," which was a literal interpretation of their original construction, a convertible body and frame with a steel top. The Coupe de Ville and Convertible also shared equipment such as standard hydraulic power windows. Beautiful styling and the powerful new V8 garnered the Cadillac line upstart Motor Trend magazine's first ever Car of the Year award. Unsure of the new magazine's intentions, Cadillac officially declined to accept the award.
Exterior and interior styling was not greatly changed, having been all-new just 9 short months earlier on the 1948 models. Up front was a new two-row egg-crate grille design and grooved chrome extensions surrounding the parking lights and wrapping onto the front fender ending at the leading edge of the wheel opening, giving a more massive appearance. Inside was a new horizontal speedometer. Other minor trim changes distinguished the two model years. Finally, with a slightly lowered price, the Series 75 Fleetwood entered its final year of production utilizing the prewar "turret-top" design.