1940s and 1950s Cadillac LaSalle Concept Cars

1955 Cadillac LaSalle II Series Concept Cars
GM design chief Harley Earl spearheaded the 1955 Cadillac LaSalle II series concept cars for that year's GM Motorama traveling auto show.
GM design chief Harley Earl spearheaded the 1955 Cadillac LaSalle II series concept cars for that year's GM Motorama traveling auto show.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

With all this, it's not surprising that some GM designers and even executives continued to have visions of LaSalle's eventual return as a specialized Cadillac. Prime among them was Harley Earl, who created two 1955 Cadillac LaSalle Series II concept cars for that year's edition of GM's traveling Motorama show.

Both wore vertical-slot grilles echoing the aborted 1941, flanked by vertical bumpers bearing big "bullet" guards and wrapped around to the sides. There were also "LaS" emblems as used in LaSalle's last years.

Still, these concepts were dissimilar to each other. One was a flashy two-seat roadster of the Corvette stripe, with elliptical bodyside concavities like those destined for the production 1956 'Vette.

Stubby rear fenders were abruptly cut off to leave the wheels exposed (something like the Brooks Stevens treatment for the front of the stillborn 1956 Gaylord). Chassis side rails housed the exhaust pipes, which exited just ahead of the back wheels.

The other 1955 LaSalle II was a hardtop sedan with rear-hinged back doors, one of the few throwback touches Earl indulged in. (The production 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham would have them too.) Seating for six was provided despite a compact 108-inch wheelbase.

Overall length was just 180 inches, height a mere 50 inches. That lowness was partly achieved with 13-inch tires, rare for even period Detroit showmobiles. Predictive features included unit construction, a big compound-curve windshield similar to 1959 production design, and an experimental small-block aluminum V-6 that GM was toying with at the time.

Concave bodyside ellipses, again finished in a darker hue, were shared with the roadster (as was V-6 power), but rear wheels were only semi-exposed in "jet tube" fenders a la the 1953 Corvette.

GM publicity described the LaSalle II hardtop as "a new concept of passenger sedan styling directed to recapture the distinctive exclusiveness and high quality of craftsmanship of the original LaSalle." But to many, it just looked silly.

If the 1955 LaSalle II concept car roadster evoked the Corvette, the LaSalle II hardtop sedan concept, pictured here, epitomized sporting elegance.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

It also looked much like other recent Earl "dream cars" including several Cadillac concepts, the 1955 Chevy Biscayne, and the 1956 Impala Sport Coupe.

The LaSalle II roadster wasn't really fresh either, having been foreshadowed by the 1954 Buick Wildcat II, Olds F-88, and Cadillac La Espada/El Camino -- not to mention the 1953 Corvette. But then, both LaSalle IIs were strictly for show and never intended for showrooms.

Although the LaSalle name repeatedly resurfaced at GM, its return was just not in the cards. Continue on to the next page to learn more about how the LaSalle name finally came to an end.

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