Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How about a classy offshoot from the FDR era?

LaSalle by Cadillac
This post is proof that you never know what you'll see driving down the byways of the boroughs. I was way out in Marine Park when I saw this beauty parked in front of an old school Italian joint:
Yes! This is a 1939 LaSalle Series 50 2 door sedan in some sort of recent Burgundy. LaSalle was a short lived affiliate of Cadillac that shared many of the components as well as the overall luxury feel. However there wasn't a Caddy paint color anything like this and I can't for the life of me find any reference to LaSalle color codes.
Check out those torpedo headlight buckets! This car is dripping with sweet '30s style; everything is stretched and streamlined to a curved point (this was when most streamlining was for looks as opposed to aerodynamics, Chrysler/DeSoto notwithstanding). The center grill flanked by the two more on the sides is clearly a Cadillac feature. Those grumpy and beat-down fog lights on the bumper are original believe it or not.
The 2 door sedan refers to the long rear quarter windows which do roll down. The 2 door coupe had a much shorter rear roof section with pop-out windows.
*I think its safe to say this belongs to Salvi as opposed to FRANK'S.
The trunk, while built in to the body, still alludes to a decade earlier when there was an actual steamer trunk lashed onto a shelf. I've seen the spare tire in a LaSalle like this and it is laying on the right side of the trunk floor with a shelf on top. Believe me storage is still plentiful. 
This car had an unbelievable option available when built; a sunroof! It was known as the Sunshine Turret Top but we would recognize it today. Reverse lights are still decades off.
LaSalle debuted in 1927 as a subdivision of Cadillac. They would continue through the length of the Great Depression only to drop off after the 1940 model year. Such a shame to trudge through that decade as a luxury producer only to get shut down, but hey - talk to Packard, Studebaker, DeSoto, Maxwell, and all the others to see how they feel. The history of the automobile is littered with hundreds (probably thousands) of false starts.
A V8 engine! This was the 5.3 liter 322 from Cadillac. Even back in '39 it was known for smooth power at a whisper quiet level. The only transmission was a column mounted 3 speed manual.
Here we can see that the rear fenders are almost entirely incorporated into the body. After decades the appendages were disappearing like the feet of a tadpole.
When you're standing next to this beauty you realize how tall it is. We're used to steeping down into cars today but with this beast you climb in.
I almost missed this sweet detail; La S is in the middle of the hubcap in an art deco moment.
The brochure tagline for the 1940 LaSalle went like this: "LaSALLE is built by CADILLAC and that's the finest recommendation any car could have". 
Alright who doesn't knock back a Haagen Dazs bar when driving a classic show car?
The curtain is being pulled back a bit with this shot as that steering wheel says APOLLO on it. I'm assuming from the vintage of that wheel that the drivetrain (or at least front end) has been changed to Buick's version of the Chevy Nova. Whatever allows you to fire this thing up and drive with ease is worth it in my opinion. 
One detail that is unique for cars of this era is the hood. As huge as it is it opens conventionally with a hinge in the rear. Most rides this old have a central hinge running down the middle and the hood would open up on each side like wings.
Well that's where I'll leave this 78 year old ride. Those little square orange lights mounted on top of the headlight buckets are a mystery but I'm not against adding basic safety items to a car driving in modern traffic. The antenna implies that there's a radio inside which is pretty cool. For the most part if you have a vehicle with this much age and presence but manage to use it regularly you are my hero. Hats off to you LaSalle owner!

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