Sign in to follow this  
Dosmo

A gangster-owned 1933 LaSalle from long ago

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

In the 1950s, my parents bought a home across the street from my maternal grandparents.  My mother’s twin brothers, both of whom remained life-long bachelors, lived in their parents’ house until one of them sold it in 2005.  Those two uncles were old car enthusiasts.  I was indoctrinated into the culture by them.

 

I don’t the exact year when my Uncle Joe found out about an old LaSalle for sale in another part of town, but I’m pretty sure it was in the very early 1960s.  I recall hearing him giving Uncle Jack the details.  It was a 1933 LaSalle, and it had belonged to a Prohibition-era gangster named Basil Banghart.  It was in terrible shape, rusty & deteriorating, but it was loaded with good parts.  The car was sitting on property that was being taken by the city for an urban renewal project, and the guy needed to get rid of it before vacating the property.  Uncle Joe made a deal to purchase the car for parts, with the understanding that he would strip the car on-site, get the parts he wanted, and leave the car sitting there – the city could dispose of the remaining carcass.

 

I remember this story because of the gangster’s last name – Banghart.  I had never heard that name before, and, to this day, I believe that the only time I ever heard it was in relation to this particular person.  So, I was stunned recently to discover a couple of newspaper articles about the gangster and this particular car while browsing some old newspaper archives.  As a bonus, both articles included photos of the car – one when it was a year old, the other when it was 25 years old and in bad shape.  This Banghart character had hired a local garage to add bullet-proof glass to the car, add some sort of bullet-proof protection to the body, and the rear window needed to roll down, in order to stick a machine gun through it to discourage any pursuers.  Just about the time this work was completed, Banghart was arrested and convicted, and the garage owner was stuck with this highly modified car for some period of time.

 

Uncle Joe owned a rental house next door to my parents’ house, although the garage on the property was used only by him for storage.  This is where the engine, transmission and rear end differential for the LaSalle were stored for several years.  He also retrieved the headlights, and one very distinctive-looking tail light.  He probably got some other smaller items, but whatever he got was stored in this garage next door to where I grew up.  He spent a fair amount of time in this old garage, and whenever possible, I was up there with him.  I remember the engine and tranny sitting on an old dirt floor, and I was scared of it, because he told me not to get too close, because it could shift and fall over on me.

 

I don’t recall whatever became of that stuff, but it was gone by the mid 1970s.  The discovery of the newspaper articles filled in some of the holes in this story that I remember from a long time ago.  Attached are some pretty grainy-looking pictures. 

 

The first photo shows the car in 1934 - the second one is from 1958, and that is probably about the way it looked when Uncle Joe saw it a few years later.

 

 

1933 LaSalle 3, Basil Banghart getaway car, KNS 1934-05-26.jpg

1933 LaSalle 1, Basil Banghart gang car, KJ 1958-02-17.jpg

Edited by Dosmo (see edit history)
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Benefits of AACA Membership.

Yes, great story and it leads right into Wiki page for Roger Touhy.  That life is a who's who of Chicago crime. They made a film of it. Probably why there is Touhy ave. near O' Hare airport.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All kinds if gangster connections here. O'Hare Airport, as many of you know, was named after  WWII Medal of Honor recipient Butch O'Hare,who's father just happened to have been "Easy Eddie O'Hare, former legal counsel to none other than Al Capone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What kind of gangster drives a 1933 LaSall Sedan? The guy he did 20 years for kidnapping..........”Jake the Barber”  had the good taste to drive a Murphy Model J Roadster.........now THAT is a gangster car! And, I was fortunate to get to play with it last month at Amelia Island, where it was sold by RM Auctions to a very nice couple with a very interesting collection. Look it up on the RM site under results for Amelia.

C28361A7-298A-4C90-9B6E-CAF8D7FDC946.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

In the early 60s a left over rum runner / WW2 pt boat was sinking in the Oshawa harbor and was towed to where it still sits today on the bottom. We used to through rocks in the smoke stack that was sticking out of the water. I believe it was called the Henry J but I could be wrong on that. The fellows name was Cowan  that was the bootlegger and he also drove a LaSalle. The family ended up with the GM dealership that is still the family business today. That is cars not booze. There was a few cases of booze that left the Oshawa harbor for the US back in the day.

This is the car in the link and read the description for the story on the car.

 https://rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/sj12/st--john-s/lots/r122-1929-lasalle-convertible-coupe-by-fisher/280613

Edited by Joe in Canada (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing. It is interesting to hear about. Too bad the whole car wasn't saved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now for the other side of the coin.  In the very early 1970's Dad advertised for a front bumper for a 1928 Cadillac.  The original had been removed and lost so the car would fit in the barn we bought it out of. We received a letter (remember those?) from an elderly retired Chicago cop.  His letter was full of stories of chasing gangsters thru the streets of Chicago.  He drove a 1928 Cadillac as did most of his department.  When he retired he continued to maintain The Caddys for the department and still had a front bumper in his garage.  He gave it to us just for the cost of shipping.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this