“This Cadillac Series 61 represents a critical time in our nation’s history,” said John Lind, director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum. “Right after this Cadillac rolled off the assembly line, General Motors retooled its plants and began producing armaments for the war effort.”

“This Cadillac Series 61 represents a critical time in our nation’s history,” said John Lind, director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum. “Right after this Cadillac rolled off the assembly line, General Motors retooled its plants and began producing armaments for the war effort.”

Photo by Deb Jacques


From peacetime production to the Arsenal of Democracy

One of last Cadillacs made in ’42 donated to museum collection, on display at Warren City Hall

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 9, 2018

WARREN — Many things changed when the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941.

Facing a new year with conflicts raging on the far side of two oceans, American industry clamored to retool, as the military geared up for the daunting task of equipping its war fighters for head-to-head combat with foes who, at the time, were vastly better equipped and had the Allies outgunned.

One of the last Cadillacs to roll off the line at the General Motors Clark Street Plant in Detroit before the transition to wartime production has been generously donated to the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum.

The “blackout model” 1942 Cadillac Series 61 sedan, produced on Feb. 3, 1942, was donated to the museum by the family of Joe H. Moore Sr., a veteran from Springfield, Tennessee. Moore, who died in March 2017, was a longtime car collector drawn to pre-war models.

“This Cadillac Series 61 represents a critical time in our nation’s history,” said John Lind, director of the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum. “Right after this Cadillac rolled off the assembly line, General Motors retooled its plants and began producing armaments for the war effort.

“GM produced more than $12 billion worth of tanks, aircraft and vehicle engines, along with other war material,” Lind said.

Realizing the vast disparity between the combat readiness of the U.S. military and that of its counterparts and adversaries fighting it out across the globe after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the War Department moved quickly to restrict the civilian production use of items deemed essential to the war effort. Chrome fell into that category, and vehicles produced in that period before all civilian automotive production ceased in early 1942 were made without chrome, with the exception of bumpers and a few smaller parts.

Lind said Moore’s Cadillac was originally ordered in 1941, before the Japanese attack, but that it was not assembled until February 1942. It was the 125th produced and was made on the last day of production.

“My grandfather was really proud of it. He liked the pre-World-War-II-era vehicles,” said Jim Moore, Joe Moore’s grandson. “He really appreciated the novelty of the vehicle, not having any chrome. He loved to take it to shows and have the judges question painting over the hubcaps. He got a lot of enjoyment out of it and would have loved to see it go to a museum, where others can enjoy it as well.”

Mark Lambert, the owner of Lambert Auto in Nashville, is a friend of the Moore family and worked on many of their classic vehicles. He said Moore liked Packards and Cadillacs, particularly the 1941 and 1942 models made around the time he graduated from high school.

Lambert helped facilitate the donation to the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum after Joe H. Moore Sr. died.

“Joe always treasured this car. He enjoyed showing it. He enjoyed driving it,” Lambert said. “Jim, in turn, in honoring Joe’s wishes, he knew that the Arsenal (of Democracy) Museum was a fantastic destination for it. We got in touch with John. We had several conversations and just knew immediately that he was the right guy. It’s a great relationship, and we really, really appreciate the museum taking ownership of the car.”

Lambert, who specializes in servicing pre-war American and European cars, said Moore’s Cadillac Series 61 was born at a “golden moment in time.”

Knowing he would never get back what he invested in the car, Lambert said Moore did an authentic restoration of the vehicle in the original color and with the original interior.

“He loved talking about the American commitment, the unifying time that was just kind of universal in his young age. That’s why the Allies were able to succeed and be victorious against a huge opponent that spent years ramping up,” Lambert said. “They were well-prepared for this war, and we were well behind. We had to ramp up quickly. Part of that was no longer having the capacity to produce civilian cars.”

The 1942 Cadillac Series 61 is currently on display in Warren’s City Hall atrium as part of a traveling exhibit spotlighting the Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum’s collection and its efforts to construct a new building at the city’s Veterans Memorial Park. Fundraising for construction of the new museum is now underway, with donation packages available for automakers, defense contractors, veterans and their families.

For more information, call (586) 604-5393 or visit www.detroitarsenalofdemocracy.org.