Skip to main content

1938 LaSalle Series 50 news, pictures, specifications, and information
Convertible Sedan
Some cars have had more famous owners than others. Ginger Rogers was the original purchaser of this luxury automobile. The LaSalle was introduced in 1927 and was offered as an alternative between a Buick and a Cadillac. LaSalle production was discontinued in 1940.

For 1938 the LaSalle was offered with a 322 cubic-inch Cadillac engine. This engine was rated at 125 horsepower at 3400 RPMs. This engine was a favorite in tanks during World War II.

The very unusual windshield for the rear seat passengers is believed to have been custom manufactured by the coachbuilder Derham.

This automobile is restored in its original paint color with contrasting lip-stick red leather interior.
Touring Sedan
Chassis Num: 2283444
Sold for $24,000 at 2014 Mecum.
The 1938 LaSalle Series was similar to the 1937 models with only a few notable changes. In the front, the eggcrate grille style remained the same but was two inches wider. The horns were mounted just behind the grille and the battery location changed. The headlights were mounted lower which caused the hood louvers to become longer and more prominent. Body styles included a coupe, convertible coupe and sedan, and a 2- and 4-passenger Touring Sedan. Power was from a 322 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine delivery 125 horsepower and mated to a selective synchromesh three-speed gearbox.

This example is finished in green with a beige interior.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2015
During the first two decades of the 1900's, Cadillac was the leader in the U.S. luxury-car market. It wasn't until around 1925 when Packard Automobiles began replacing Cadillac as America's new favorite in the premium automobile market when Cadillac realized that they needed to step it up.

With the bottom-end Cadillac priced at $3195, many consumers were unwilling to spend such a significant amount when the top of the line Buick cost $1925. In the years following World War I, Packard's smart new group of lower-priced high-quality ‘pocket-size' vehicles were responsible for basically running away with the luxury market, and consequently, much of GM's business.

Conceived as a baby Cadillac with a bit more added style, the La Salle series was introduced on March 5, 1927. To present a youthful, dashing image completely opposite from the staid and proper Cadillac, the La Salle series was meant to be a stepping stone in a perceived gap between Cadillac and Buick in GM's lineup. Priced just above the Buick, the La Salle was designed to be a complete model line that would adequately fill out GM's product roster. The name La Salle was chosen in reference to the famed French explorer that Cadillac had been named after, as one of his compatriots.

Wanting the La Salle to be considerably more stylish than the Cadillac, President of GM Larry Fisher hired a young stylist from Cadillac's California distributor to aid in the design of the new junior series. Harley Earl was given the job as a consultant to design the first La Salle. Though assumed to be only hired for this specific task, Earl went on to become the company's director of design until he retired some 30 years later. During Earl's time at Cadillac, he influenced the entire industry in the areas of both styling and marketing strategy.

The original La Salle produced in 1927 became the first mass-production vehicle to consciously ‘styled' in the modern sense. Considered to by the most fashionable American automobiles of its day, the LaSalle was the first of the smaller and more maneuverable luxury vehicles. The LaSalle was also the pioneer in the automobile color industry. Up until this point all vehicles were produced in only black Japan enamel, the only finish available to dry quickly enough to stand up to the pace of mass production. The introduction to DuPont Chemical Company's fast-drying, polychromatic duco finishes in '24 supplied automobiles with a stunning array of colors. La Salle became one of the first cars to take advantage of this modern advancement.

The Series 350 was introduced in 1934 and was considered to be more like an Oldsmobile than a Cadillac. Borrowing an L-head straight eight from the Oldsmobile division to replace the traditional Cadillac V-8, the new series shared the same 240.3-cubic-inch (4-liter) displacement. A completely redesigned chassis was introduced with a much shorter, 119-inch wheelbase. Since the beginning of the La Salle, the double-plate type clutch was utilized until before replaced with a single-plate clutch. Hydraulic brakes were also newly adopted into the series adding yet another first to GM's repertoire.

Independent front suspension now reduced the unsprung weight problem that had been an issue since 1933. Cadillac was able to reduce the price of the LaSalle base models by $650 with these cost cutting new innovative features.

Considered to be the automotive industries fashion leader, the La Salle was equally impressive from its design side. The new design styling for the 1934 model was considered to be dramatic and eye-catching. High-set headlamps in bullet-shaped pods were placed on both sides of a tall, narrow vee'd radiator, along with curvy ‘pontoon' fenders at both the front and rear. Wheels were encased in smart chromed discs while hood vent doors gave to ‘portholes'.

The La Salle featured bumpers that emulated the shape of twin slim blades separated by two bullets, similar to the '27 Cadillacs. Trunks were absorbed into the main body on all models and spare tires moved inside the vehicles. The LaSalle Series 50 featured a four-door sedan, a new five-passenger club sedan, a two-seat coupe and a rumble-seat convertible coupe in its 1934 lineup. All models showcased Fleetwood bodywork and rear-hinged front doors. Cadillac's standard of quality and luxury were still rated as outstanding despite the money-saving measures. For the 1934 Indianapolis 500, the '34 LaSalle was chosen as a pace car for that year.

Unfortunately the following year's sales dipped far below expectations, even though they doubled the previous year's total. A total of only 7195 models were produced for the 1934 year.

Not much styling was changed for the 1935 LaSalle Series 50. Updates included two-door and four-door ‘trunkback' sedans joining the line with an industry trend. Fisher's new 'Turret-Top' construction was introduced to replace the original closed body styles. This update required steel to replace the traditional fabric inserted into the roof. Horsepower was up from 90 to 95 with a slightly higher compression ratio. Very few mechanical changes were made for the '35 model.

Due to the release of Packard's new One-Twenty, about the same size as LaSalle, though slightly lighter and 16% more powerful and costing $450 less, LaSalle sales suffered.

The following year Cadillac responded to the competition by reducing the little-changed Series 50 by $320, though even this wasn't enough to stimulate sales significantly. Packard's One-Twenty continued to thrive, and outsold the LaSalle by better than four to one for 1936.

Time to try a new approach, Cadillac next introduced a new ‘compact' Series 60 that same season.

By Jessica Donaldson
Recent Vehicle Additions

2017 Chrysler 300

2017 Chrysler 200

2017 Audi S5

2017 Audi S5 Sportback

2017 Audi A5 Sportback

2017 Seat Leon
For more information and related vehicles, click here

Mercedes-AMG GT S: new Safety Car for the DTM: From Formula 1® to the DTM
Affalterbach. A new Safety Car celebrates its DTM premiere: at the second DTM race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz (29 to 31 May 2015), the Mercedes-AMG GT S is set to be deployed for the very first time. The new sports car will help to ensure maximum safety on the race track in the world's most popular touring car series. In technical terms, the 375 kW (510 hp) eight-cylinder sports car is for the most part the same as the series production vehicle – just like its counterpart from the FIA F...[Read more...]
July 15, 2014 - Akron, Ohio—Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, one of the nation's most iconic residences arising from the American Country Estate movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, announces the Concours d'Elegance at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens to be held September 19-21, 2014 on the grounds of the 70-acre historic estate, which is located in Akron Ohio. 'Few settings equal the elegance of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens,' said David Schultz, concours executive director, who previou...[Read more...]
80 years ago: victory by the Mercedes-Benz W 25 in the International Eifel Race gave birth to the legend of the Silver Arrows
•The silver-coloured body of the W 25 gave this nickname to the racing cars from Mercedes-Benz •Successful new development by Mercedes-Benz for the750-kilogram racing formula •Manfred von Brauchitsch drove the W 25 to victory and established a new track record for Nürburgring It was a debut in sparkling silver, and it ended with shining gold: the first race at Nürburgring with the completely newly developed Mercedes-Benz W 25 racing car on 3 June 1934 was won by Manfred von Brauchitsch with...[Read more...]
DETROIT – Remaining in business for 11 decades requires constant innovation, so choosing one model to represent a decade of significance can be a catalyst for debate. Among the hundreds of models designed and engineered for Buick, the 11 below stand out as the most significant for their respective decades since May 17, 1903. Let the debate begin. ◾1903-1912: The first Buick ever is quite significant, so Buick's first decade honor goes to the 1904 Model B. The first one of the line was so...[Read more...]
RM Auctions Announces New Paris Sale To Take Place During Retromobile Week
• RM Auctions expands European presence with all-new sale in Paris during the Retromobile show week • Auction to be held within the beautiful surroundings of 'Les Invalides' in central Paris, 4-5 February, 2014 • Magnificent ex-works Gordini 24S already consigned in anticipation of another exceptional RM sale LONDON (20 June, 2013) – RM Auctions, the world's largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, is delighted to announce the addition of a new sale to...[Read more...]

Model 303
Model 340
Series 50

Image Left 1937 Series 50Image Left 1937 510-C1939 Series 50 Image Right
© 1998-2016. All rights reserved. The material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.