THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1927 LaSalle Model 1168 phaeton owned by Bill Aprile
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
Edith and Archie Bunker weren’t kidding when they sang “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great” to open the “All in the Family” TV sitcom of the 1970s. The LaSalle, built from 1927 to 1940, was a premium car designed to slot between luxury brand Cadillac and the big Buicks of the day. During the prosperous Roaring Twenties, General Motors felt that the new car – slightly smaller than the Cadillac -- would prevent Buick owners from defecting to luxury competitors, especially to rival Packard.
In June 1927, two GM test drivers took a LaSalle around a Michigan track for 951 miles over approximately 10 hours, for an average speed of 95.2 miles per hour. It was an amazing endurance run compared to that year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, who averaged 97.5 miles per hour for little over half the distance. Both the Great Depression and competition with parent Cadillac eventually killed the LaSalle. “This special LaSalle is a 1927 phaeton (an open car, usually with two to three rows of seats) exported February 17, 1928 to Mexico City and titled as a 1928, but it has all aspects of a 1927,” says Aprile. “Approximately 1,575 were made in 1927 and 1928, and only 49 were exported to Mexico City.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
“I had been looking for 14 years to find one,” Aprile says. “Years ago, I met a man who let me drive his 1927 LaSalle dual cowl sports phaeton. I fell in love. With his help, we found this car. It was bought from a Johnson City, Texas bank.” Aprile had the LaSalle shipped to Long Island.
“After a lot of mechanical work, she is back to her original state,” he says. “It has all her original paperwork, including its stamped customs tickets, original bill of sale and all service manuals, records and tools.” Aprile points to the car’s extensive original equipment, such as the premium Lovejoy shock absorbers, the twelve vertical vents on each side of the hood, the “artillery” wood wheels, side-mounted spare tires with period mirrors, a trunk and its folding rack, a working original LaSalle hood ornament and the original metric gauges on the dashboard.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Be patient,” Aprile advises. “Your dream will arrive.”
“The original price was $2,495,” he says. “Today, it’s priceless.” The NADA Guides puts an “average retail” value of $60,400 on a 1927 LaSalle phaeton.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“My dad worked for Bayer Cadillac (a Long Island City dealer) for 54 years,” Aprile says, “and his passion for Cadillacs and LaSalles was handed down to me.”