Five body styles were offered initially, all by Fisher. They rode a 125-inch wheelbase, seven inches shorter than that of the 1927 Cadillac. Model for model, the LaSalle was about 180 pounds lighter than the Caddy, and correspondingly more nimble. Six additional Fisher bodies joined the roster at mid-year, three on the original 125-inch wheel span, and three on a longer 134-inch chassis.
In addition, four semi-custom models, featuring coachwork by Fleetwood, were introduced on the shorter chassis. The Fleetwood jobs were very costly, ranging in price from $4,275 to $4,700, compared to a range of $2,495 to $2,975 for the short-chassis Fisher-bodied cars. Yet, interestingly enough, Harley Earl's Fisher-bodied cars were far better looking.
It should perhaps be noted that although the LaSalle sold for several hundred dollars less than the Cadillac, it was still considered an expensive automobile at a time when a new Chevrolet roadster sold for $525, and a perfectly respectable Buick Standard Six sedan could be had for $1,295.
When the 1928 models went on display, the LaSalle's influence on Cadillac was readily apparent. Styling of the senior car this year was the work of Harley Earl, and the result was extremely attractive. And under the Cadillac's hood was a 341-cubic-inch version of the engine introduced by LaSalle the year before. As for the LaSalle, it was little changed, although several additional models were offered on the 134-inch chassis.
In succeeding years, the original LaSalle concept of incorporating Cadillac quality in a smaller, more maneuver-able package became lost. By 1929, only three Fisher and two Fleetwood models remained on the 125-inch wheelbase, while a total of 14 were available on the longer chassis. And by 1930 the entire line had the longer wheelbase.
Not surprisingly, the LaSalle fell upon very difficult times during the Depression, with production falling to as low as 3,290 units for the 1932 model year. A smaller, much less expensive model, borrowing most of its components from the Oldsmobile Division, brought better sales during 1934-1936, but the LaSalle didn't hit its stride again until 1937, when a new V-8 led to sales of 32,005 units -- LaSalle's all-time high.
By that time, however, there was a smaller Cadillac, the Series Sixty, priced as low as $1,445. At this time, the LaSalle was still an extremely attractive automobile and an excellent value for the money, and it boasted a loyal following. But it made no sense for Cadillac to offer two automobiles that essentially competed with each other. Thus, at the end of the 1940 model run, the curtain came down and the LaSalle was no more.
Ironically, back in 1687 René Robert Cavalier de la Salle was killed by his own men. During the summer of 1940 the same thing happened to the automobile that bore his name.
Get specifications for the 1927 LaSalle on the next page.
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