1935 LaSalle Series 50

1935 LaSalle Series 50 1935 LaSalle Series 50 1935 LaSalle Series 50 Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fisher
Chassis #: 2205630
Engine # 2205630
High bid of $85,000 at 2008 Sports & Classics of Monterey by RM Auctions. (did not sell)
The LaSalle was very popular when it was first introduced in 1927 but by 1932 sales had plummeted to 3,386 cars. This was down from 22,961 from just three years earlier. Discussions about discontinuing the brand began, even though it was still outselling its senior sibling, the Cadillac. These talks were quieted when famed Harley Earl gave it new life with updated styling.

The new LaSalle design was introduced for 1934 and featured a newly designed chassis, and an L-head straight-eight from Oldsmobile. The vehicle had lightweight Lynite aluminum pistons, a single plate clutch, hydraulic brakes (which was a first for the General), and an independent front suspension.

This 1935 LaSalle Convertible Coupe wears coachwork by Fisher and rides on a wheelbase that measures 120-inches. It was delivered new to the New York Branch in mid June of 1935. It left the factory with the X and D accessory groups which included fender mounted spare wheels and metal tire covers, wheel disc covers, chrome wheel trim rings, rumble seat, radio and antennal, right hand sun visor, flexible steering wheel, license frame, electric clock, torpedo ornament, securing plate glass, wheel disc covers, and chrome hood ports.

In 2008, this vehicle, one of only 874 examples produced, was offered for sale at the 'Sports & Classics of Monterey' presented by RM Auctions. It had an estimated value of $120,000 - $140,000. It had a high bid of $85,000 but this was not enough to satisfy the vehicles reserve. The lot was not sold.


By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2009
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

1935 LaSalle Models

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