1939 Cadillac Lasalle Hearse: Giving  the last honors beautifully 

1939 Cadillac Lasalle Hearse: Giving  the last honors beautifully 

Engine V8 Horsepower 125 BHP (92 KW) @ 3400 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWDWeight 3635 lbs | 1648.808 kgTransmission 3-speed manual

LaSalle looked like a smaller Cadillac but received the same engine as its bigger counterpart, becoming sportier and more dynamic.

Source: Vintage Car Collector

On the test drive, this automobile showed speeds comparable to the racing cars, which made it a people’s darling. It was the company’s first compact and prompt luxury car built with traditional quality. Unfortunately, the raging Great Depression and its consequences ruined the brand’s future. Even though the automobile cost $500 less and almost did not differ from the bigger Cadillac automobiles, it began to sell worse compared to them. In the meantime, by a tragic coincidence, the brand was chosen by the A.J. Miller company, which was constructing hearses. Thus, the luxury brand became part of the funerals, taking the rich and famous on their last journey.

The origins

Source: Mecum Auctions

In the 20s, General Motors developed a clear hierarchy for its vehicles, covering the entire price range. According to the company, buyers with a small income chose a Chevrolet. Over time,  raising their standard of living and income, these same customers switched to Oakland. Then, climbing a financial ladder, they were buying Oldsmobile, Buick, and, in the end – a luxurious Cadillac. At first, this scheme worked fine, however, due to changes in engines, bodies, and other specifications, neighboring brands increasingly moved away from each other, forming unoccupied gaps that competitors sought to occupy. An unpleasant coup did not take long… In 1925, the “Caddies”, which dominated the luxury vehicle market, was overtaken by the Packard. Costing less than GM’s sophisticated automobile, the Packard quickly became the best-selling premium vehicle occupying the niche that GM didn’t want to give up. To prevent the competitors’ conquest of other price niches, General Motors president Alfred P. Sloan came up with an affiliated brand program. He persuaded the GM management to make a cheaper version of the most prestigious cars in the corporation’s line: Cadillac in the 30s US was an icon, a national dream, evidence of success and prosperity. In 1927, a newly established brand became almost the same, only a little simpler and cheaper.

The 1939 model year

Source: Flickr

In the mid-30s, LaSalle was closer to Oldsmobiles than Cadillacs. However, they were advertised as a luxurious model of the highest standards because of the “Caddy” engine they received. Some innovations had also been carried out. At the time, the brand made the first GM vehicle to have independent front suspension. Then, again, for the first time, elegant air vents on the sides of the body were made, which, decades later became a hallmark of the Buicks. In 1937, LaSalle was built on a Buick base, but the “Caddy” engine under the hood allowed the company to associate it with its more expensive counterparts. In 1939 a very modern automobile was introduced, which buyers liked very much. The grille was its most striking element. The vehicle was in the popular aero style, with teardrop-shaped headlights emphasizing the aerodynamic style. Hidden under the long soot, a 322ccs eight-cylinder engine made the car powerful for its time. The powerful engine helped minimize development costs and efforts while carving a niche in the range of luxury customers. The car featured Whitewall tires, and chrome accents could be found throughout the car.

However, the success was short: a rapid decline followed, associated with GM’s marketing miscalculations. LaSalle became indistinguishable from the Buick. At the same time, the increase in prices equalized these two brands. Bringing LaSalle and Cadillac closer was not a solution: why would buyers want an automobile that was built and cost like a prestigious and legendary “Caddy” when there was already one? In addition, LaSalle simply failed the mission to make a name during its 14 years of production. Eventually, GM’s decision to follow the path of greater unification of models made the existence of the brand meaningless. In 1940, the decision to discontinue the brand was made. Thus GM’s program of companion brands ended up.

Did you know?

Source: IMCDb

The big, black, scary hearse was chasing Bond in the “Dr. No” movie. During the chase inexplicably, it reincarnated from a 1939 LaSalle Hearse into a Humber Super Snipe making its famous mountain jump, which ended the hunt. Why the filmmakers did such an exchange is still a mystery.

Contact us if you have this or another classic car to sell.

1939 Cadillac Lasalle Hearse: Giving  the last honors beautifully 

Engine V8 Horsepower 125 BHP (92 KW) @ 3400 RPMEngine Location Front Drive Type RWDWeight 3635 lbs | 1648.808 kgTransmission 3-speed manual

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