The Standard Catalog of American Cars points out that LaSalle “was a commercial failure,” yet adds that the brand remains important to the history of American automobiles.
Why? Because it was the LaSalle brand that led to the separation of General Motors styling staff, aka Art and Colour — yes, with the British spelling — from the engineering department and to the hiring of a young West Coast custom car designer, Harley Earl, who revolutionized the styling of GM vehicles and, as a result, that of all cars produced everywhere.
“This car is #144 of 1020 vehicles manufactured for the 1939 2-door convertible coupes,” the dealer reports, adding that 24 of those cars were shipped to Antwerp. Unfortunately, the seller doesn’t share the significance of those vehicles sent to Belgium, so we don’t know if this, perhaps, was one of those.
What we do know, however, is that the car was featured in a story in the Washington Times newspaper and that the previous owner was the late Laurence Hugh Frost, a 1926 graduate of the Naval Academy who was commander of the USS Greer, a destroyer during World War II, and who went on to serve as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and as director of the National Security Agency.
The car has been “meticulously loved and well-maintained,” the seller promises.
The car has its original flathead V8 engine, with Edmonds high compression aluminum heads, and is linked to a column-shifted 3-speed manual gearbox.
The car is black with a red-and-cream leather interior and has a Cadillac radio (LaSalle was a Cadillac sub brand). It also has fog lamps, a $14.50 option back in the 1930s.
In 1939, LaSalles were equipped with a 322cid L-head V8 rated at 136 horsepower.
The car is offered for $65,000. To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.