The 1952 Cado – One of Cleveland Ohio’s Most Rakish Appearing Sports Cars

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Hi Gang…

The more I study the development of the American postwar sports car, the more I have become impressed with the ingenuity and perseverance these guys had to bring their dreams to reality – time and time again.

Today’s story is about a car named “Cado” – after its builders who were Johnny Campbell and Elbert Dooley.  As you’ll see in the press release from 1952, they refer to this hand-built car as:

  • One of the most rakish sports cars on Cleveland’s streets
  • The lowest and widest sports car ever built

Interesting bits of information about a sports car built and driving before the Corvette prototype was presented to the public at the Waldorf in New York City, January, 1953.  Let’s have a look at the car, the men, and the press release that describes them.



One of the most rakish appearing sports cars on Cleveland streets these days is the hand-made “Cado,” built in a garage here by two young mechanics who believe their creation Is the beginning of a custom-made sports car business.

The builders, Johnny Campbell, 39 (above), and Elbert Dooley, 29, say their little speedster is the lowest and widest ever built.  It is only 36 and ½ inches high and six feet wide.  They derived the name “Cado” from a combination of the first two letters of their own names.

Powered by a 160 horsepower Oldsmobile engine, the car has a top speed estimated at between 130 and 140 mph, according to the builders.  It has a gold paint job.  A feature is an airplane-type steering wheel.



It’s interesting to consider that once again we see that young men from this era thinking beyond the immediate task of building their dream – they were going to try to tap into the excitement and need of an American type sports car and build their own small company.  This press release was dated in late 1952, and fiberglass sports cars were already making inroads into fulfilling some of these needs, but their thinking was right in line with many of the men who had begun doing the same thing across America, but with fiberglass instead.

But maybe they did consider using fiberglass.  We’ve been trying to identify the mystery car below for many years.  I had called it the “Blowfish Special,” but it’s now in the hands of fiberglass aficionado Craig Johnson and he has already renamed it the “Piranha Special.”

Click here to review a story about this mystery car.

“Yes” there are many differences.  But some of the similarities in design tend to get one thinking….



I searched the net for some time but haven’t located any new information about Johnny Campbell, Elbert Dooley, and their creation – the “Cado.”  It looks like a great car, and if it wasn’t damaged at some point, I hope it has been retained or is hiding somewhere where it is safe and sound.  And perhaps…if the “light” is just right….the questions asked are “perfect” and one of you uncovers the “Cado” resplendent in its original gold patina, we can share the story with you here for all to enjoy :-)

Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember gang…

The adventure continues here at Sport Custom central.



* Click on the following link to view all stories on:  The Cado Sports Car


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The 1952 Cado – One of Cleveland Ohio’s Most Rakish Appearing Sports Cars — 1 Comment

  1. It was great to see my grandfather and his partners creation on here. My Grandfather was John Campbell. My Grandmother, Ann Campbell sewed the cowhide seats for the Cado, and a few other of my grandfathers cars. He unfortunately passed away, but won quite a few car contests back in the 50’s and early 60’s, until he moved to Southern California, where he opened a full service gas station, and later a machine shop.

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