1927 LaSalle Touring Phaeton, 4 door
Owner: Bernie and Janice Taulborg Collection
Original cost: $2,685.00
Number made: 10,767
Engine, etc.: 303 series; 303 cu. in., 75 hp; 125 in. wheelbase; 3,770 lbs.; capable of 70 mph.; body by Fisher, job 1168, body 145 (Body maker, job and body numbers from plate on firewall of car.)
This car has been adopted by J.L. & Pamela Schmidt.
The LaSalle started as a new line to fill the gap between Buick and Cadillac in the General Motors lineup of prices. It was introduced in March, 1927.
The name came from French explorer Robert de la Salle (1643 – 1687), while Cadillac was named for explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac (1658 – 1730).
It was the first production car to be designed by a stylist, Harley Earl, as his first project at GM and led to the formation of GM’s Art and Colour Department. The LaSalle is widely regarded as the beginning of modern American automobile styling. Harley Earl conceived the LaSalle as not just a junior Cadillac but as something more agile and stylish. The result was a smaller yet elegant counterpoint to Cadillac’s larger cars, unlike anything else built by an American car manufacturer.
The LaSalle was produced in Cadillac’s production facilities and billed as a “companion car to Cadillac”, with Cadillac quality and dependability in a lower price package. Styling was equal to functionality in the design. Harvey Earl, inspired by Hispano-Suiza, included the LaSalle’s marque trademark “LaS” in the horizontal tie bar between the front lights.
The bodies of the roadster could be ordered in two-toned colors at a time dark colors such as black and navy blue were more commonly offered by other manufacturers.
Eleven standard body styles were made by Fisher and four styles were made by Fleetwood. The most expensive model, the Transformable Town Cabriolet, was priced at $4,700, a high price for the era. However, it was the same quality as a Cadillac yet cost nearly $1,000 less. Customers realized this and nearly 16,850 were sold, twice the rate of parent Cadillac.
The 303 engine was a new basic design with the starter mounted horizontally behind the flywheel. It could carry the LaSalle at speeds of 70 mph. The oil filter was on the engine rather than on the firewall.
In 1927 a modified LaSalle roadster (non-essential elements were removed from the car) was driven on the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Mich. in an endurance test run of 10 hours. The car covered 951 miles at an average speed of 95.2 miles an hour. The fastest 252 laps had been run at an average 98.8 miles an hour. The test was terminated when an oil suction line fractured. In comparison, the average speed at that year’s Indianapolis 500 was 97.5 mph.
Production ceased after the1940 model when GM realized LaSalle sales were diluting demand and preference for Cadillacs. (Sales of Cadillacs fell by half in 1929, for example.)
Sources: Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805 -1942. Beverly Rae Kimes, et al. 3rd ed. Krause Publications, 1996.