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1940s and 1950s Cadillac LaSalle Concept Cars


LaSalle in Limbo
Likely considered for 1940, not 1941, was this intriguing LaSalle concept version of Cadillac's handsome and predictive new 1938 Sixty Special.
Likely considered for 1940, not 1941, was this intriguing LaSalle concept version of Cadillac's handsome and predictive new 1938 Sixty Special.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

The thought of resurrecting the LaSalle name has frequently resurfaced at GM, but production planners have chosen to keep LaSalle in limbo.

Production was definitely on GM's mind when the LaSalle name resurfaced a few years later in connection with the project that produced the 1963 Buick Riviera.

At first, this Thunderbird-beater was proposed as a new personal-luxury Cadillac line called LaSalle, and several body types were developed, including convertible and hardtop sedans.

The four-door droptop would have been quite timely against Lincoln's then-new Continental model, but Buick's poor sales in that period dictated some added product help, so the car was assigned to Flint and offered only as a hardtop coupe. Thus ended the first chance for a new LaSalle since 1940.

But the name continued to exert considerable magic within the GM halls of power, and another chance came in the early 1970s. Cadillac was planning a new small sedan, and there were serious thoughts of calling it LaSalle, though "Leland" was also in the running (honoring Cadillac's founder, Henry Martyn Leland).

Photographed in 1937, another view of the 1940 LaSalle concept car shows a 1940-style LaSalle radiator, but with squared-off headlamps.
Photographed in 1937, another view of the 1940 LaSalle concept car shows a 1940-style LaSalle radiator, but with squared-off headlamps.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

LaSalle, however, was all but assured -- until a division executive came across an article that characterized the original line as "Cadillac's only failure." That was enough for the sales force, which voted for a newer, more recognized name with some success behind it: Seville.

Reportedly, LaSalle was also contemplated for what became the subcompact Cimarron of 1982-1988, but given that car's unhappy record and "loser" image, this third-time rejection was a definite charm.

People still talk about LaSalles, but they're now mostly historians and old-Cadillac fanciers. Will the name ever be revived? Probably not, though you can never can tell.

The early-1940 date on this LaSalle concept car picture suggests the decision to drop LaSalle came very late during planning for the not-to-be 1941 models.
The early-1940 date on this LaSalle concept car picture suggests the decision to drop LaSalle came very late during planning for the not-to-be 1941 models.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Let's just hope that if Cadillac ever does see fit to bring it back, it will be for a car truly worthy of the romantic originals, lest the name be forever sullied. Otherwise, LaSalle is probably best left in limbo. As they say, some things just can't be duplicated.

For more on concept cars and the production models they forecast, check out:


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