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In the Garage: 1940 LaSalle Series 52
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1940 LaSalle Series 52 sedan owned by Andrew Zizolfo
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
While 1940 was the LaSalle’s final year, it did not go out with a whimper. Built since 1927 as a “junior Cadillac,” these cars held their own in the luxury field, with advanced engineering, solid build quality and an emphasis on selling style along with substance. “Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s,” says Zizolfo, “General Motors produced ‘companion cars’ in addition to their major brands. Buick had Marquette, Pontiac had Oakland and Oldsmobile had Viking. As car buyers progressed through the price range of General Motors’ cars, they found that there was a significant difference in price between Buick and Cadillac.
To fill that void, General Motors decided to build a ‘companion car’ to the Cadillac.” The LaSalles were trendsetters in their styling and performance, offering well-heeled buyers a product that by most measures was really a Cadillac at a bargain price. By 1940, however, consumers could purchase the bottom-level Cadillac coupe for less than a LaSalle Model 52. Most automotive historians believe this competition and conflict between the two brands led to LaSalle’s demise.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
“This car belonged to a car collector friend of mine in Tennessee,” Zizolfo says. “He bought it from the person who had it fully restored in Colorado. My friend decided to ‘thin out’ his collection. I took the opportunity and purchased the car from him in July 2012. I had it shipped in an enclosed trailer to my home.”
“This car is a fully restored example of the 1940 LaSalle,” he says. “It is the rarest body style, the ‘Series 52 Torpedo.’ This was the only year LaSalle ever made this body style. The car uses the Cadillac flathead V-8 engine and manual transmission. These cars were built on the Cadillac assembly line and shared many Cadillac parts and components. This body style was used for some of the 1941 Cadillac models after LaSalle was discontinued. The car was ‘ground-up’ restored. It has a fully rebuilt engine, drive train, suspension and interior. It is painted in one of the original color offerings, ‘Oxblood Maroon.’ This car is in excellent condition and can be driven anywhere with confidence.”
“According to the old car price guides,” Zizolfo says, “this car is valued between $35,000 and $45,000.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
“This car is a pleasure to own and drive,” he adds. “It creates interesting conversation among car enthusiasts at every event I attend. These are a very difficult car to find in any condition. I take it out on weekends and for special occasions, and only in good weather. I plan to keep it a long time.”