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Need help identifying details on a late 30s LaSalle

Peter Gariepy

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This is a 1937 Model 5019 LaSalle four door touring sedan. It was the highest production body style for LaSalle in '37, which in turn was a record sales year for LaSalle. A '37 LaSalle convertible paced the Indy 500. This car is almost identical to the Cadillac series 60, sharing the same 124-inch wheelbase chassis and the engine except for a 1/8 inch reduction in bore on the LaSalle, to 322 cubic inches and 125 horsepower. There is no structural wood in this car as '37 was the first year for stamped steel to be used in lieu of wood. That's a plus for the restorer.

This car appears to have been refurbished at some time and then allowed to deteriorate. I do not have a color chart handy but I don't think either color is correct, certainly the two-tone is not. The car appears to be very complete in many ways, however the distinctive chevron trim on the front fenders and the trunk lid is not in place. Under the hood, it appears to be fairly complete except for the missing air cleaner; it even has the original upside-down coil. A check of the engine number would tell you if the engine is correct for 1937.

It has a number of rare options; full wheel covers (which aren't really but they're larger than base covers), radio, spring-style steering wheel.

This would be a good restoration candidate because the car looks to be in good shape and fairly complete. Mechanically, the car is a good, modern design and very robust. The engines were used by the military so parts are still fairly easy to find but getting more rare.

Today's collector car market would not return the cost of a professional restoration. However, these cars drive very well at today's reasonable road speeds, have good brakes and are quite attractive.

I have two of these cars. BillP

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I couldn't have asked for a better response - THANK YOU!

The car is "for sale", but the owner is clueless as to what it is worth, and to be honest - so am I. I can say this about the car, it runs well, and there is no rust to be found of any substance. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

What i want to know now is - what's the "Real" value for the car. I did look around a bit, old car value guide, ebay, autotrader, but didn't find much. Can you give me a ballpark figure on it's value?

I'm am considering buying it myself - and just freshen it up enough to make it a good driver. New interior, freshen up the mechanicals, tires, etc. leave the rest alone. What I dont want to do is get to upside-down with the car. If i can walk away from it in 2-3 years for what i have in it that would be ideal.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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I think a good used original and complete sedan like that but with a more serviceable interior, with original paint or maybe a decent older repaint in a factory color, mechanically all in good order (meaning engine & drivetrain, suspension, brakes, electrical, etc.) would be around ten thousand dollars. Maybe up or down twenty percent based on the phase of the moon. I say that dollar figure because it is the amount I 'carry around in my head' for my sedan, which I have sort of described.

The LaSalle occupies an unusual position in the hobby. It is certainly graciously welcomed at Cadillac-LaSalle Club meets, and although it was built by Cadillac in their factory using Cadillac engineering and parts, it's sort of not a Cadillac. Thus, the market is not terribly enamoured of these late thirties cars, but to me that makes it a great opportunity to get into a reliable, smooth, large and fun antique for not a huge pile of money. As time goes on, I think this situation will change and the 'Cadillac buyers premium' will attach to LaSalle, just as other halo cars are brought up in value.

Now to this car.

Short of a major dismantling, you'll have to assume a number of things are required before it goes on the road. It's good news that the engine runs well. Assume however, that the radiator will at least need to be cleaned out. Presumably, the easiest way to remove the radiator is to remove the front clip. I balked at this a few years ago and got it out somehow up and over the engine. It's heavy and awkward. Rebuild the water pump while you've got the front of the engine accessible. Also rebuild the generator and starter and buy new belts.

Front suspension may need attention, but it's straighforward; bushings and bearings, tie rod ends. The rear springs are leaf with funny threaded shackle pins; make sure they are lubed and free to move.

Gas tank probably needs cleaned out & maybe repaired.

May need a new wiring harness. These are available and not a big deal if you take your time. A good safety idea.

Complete brake job. Wheel bearings front and rear are probably good.

Might need a new clutch. These are available. The transmission and rear end are stout, just change the oil in them.

New battery. NAPA has a commercial 6 volt that somehow has more zap than the standard one. New cables.

While you're underneath, an electric fuel pump is a good thing. The mechanical one is in a hot area and today's fuels are no friend to it.

New interior. I don't know how much this'll cost, but you are fortunate in having the original to use as patterns; there is some nice detail stitching that recalls the art deco motif. (Lah de dah).

New tires. Get heavy duty, modern tires for this daily driver, not the ones sold as antique tires.

There now, I've just gone through maybe five thousand bucks if you do most of it yourself. Throw in one or two more for unseen stuff or the chroming/painting you want to do and you should buy it for maybe no more than around three thousand. Less is better. That may sound low to your friend that owns it who thinks he has Something but you could tell him he should have bought a Caddy if he wanted to make the big bucks. The better deal you get on the front end means more for repairs and less inversion when you sell it. In the meantime, you'll have a large, comfortable, easy to drive cruise car. I suppose that has some inherent value, else a lot of people would be collecting stamps instead of cars and barns to put them in.

Make sure it has a clean, current title for the state you're buying it in. There are few headaches worse than dealing with the title people when you don't have your sh*t together. They wait for people like that.


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I believe it was the Cadillac engine that was used by the military, not the LaSalle, which was of a slightly smaller bore and about 15 HP less. Therefore only superficial accessory engine parts will interchange. Also it was the '41 engine that was used by the military, and I believe it differs in some respects from the '37s.

I have a '40 laSalle engine, minus most of those accessory items like the water pump, in Baltimore free for the taking if anyone wants to pick it up. I will never get back there with a truck to get it. It was a good engine when I put it in dry storage 25 years ago. I just took accessory items off of it for a '40 Cadillac.


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I guess I was referring (at least in my own mind) to the engine design being used in tanks. Sort of like different iterations of the small-block Chevy engine. Of course it was the Cadillac engine.

I would like to take you up on the offer of that engine. I get over that way occasionally but cannot say exactly when. May I get back to you with a firm date?

Thanks, BillP

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Here is what NADA says - hope that gets you started





Weight: 3,810

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price: $1,320

Low Retail: $11,800

Average Retail: $17,000

High Retail: $25,100

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