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37 LaSalle 4 Dr Convertible

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Hopefully the members can help me back in to some expectations.  I am to look at a 37 LaSalle Convertible on Wednesday 3/17.   Seaching docuementation I have found that this car should have had the 322ci Olds V8 engine, but not assembled by Oldsmobile.  The parts were sent to the LaSalle factory and assembled by Cadillac-trained LaSalle assembly teams to authentically declare it was manufactured by Cadillac engineers.Can anyone tell me what the original engine casting number(s) for engines in that car would be?   


Also, I am new to LaSalles - Any information you can provide around what to look for and what to beware of will be greatly appreciated.

Edited by Rejuvenated
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Oldsmobile straight eight engines were used in LaSalles for 1934, 1935, and 1936. For 1937, LaSalle went back to a Cadillac built V-8. The LaSalle V-8 was a 322 CID which was used until the end of LaSalle production in 1940. Cadillac cars used the same exact engine, except that the version used in Cadillacs displaced 346 CI, due to a larger cylinder bore. Very often, over the years, the LaSalle engines, when they were rebuilt, were bored out to the larger displacement. The larger and smaller engines are identical in appearance. Except for the pistons and rings, their parts are identical. The 346 lasted until the end of 1948 production.


I cannot help you with the casting numbers for 1937 engines. Cadillac cars in that era were identified by the chassis number, which can be found on the top of the frame, near the steering box. This number would not be found on the engine. In order to confirm the original engine number, you would need to have the build sheet for that car. Matching numbers are not an issue on prewar Cadillacs.


I have owned a 1940 LaSalle for many years. These are great cars. To my eye, they are better looking than their Cadillac brothers. I would look this car over like any other vintage car. They don't have any particular problems except that they are 85 years old. Look carefully. Remember that with every year that passes, improvements on these cars have gotten more expensive and harder to accomplish. 

Good luck!

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Hello Rejuvenated, The engine number range for 1937 Lasalles is 2230001   through   2262005.    Cadillac used only the raw block casting from Oldsmobile for Lasalle engines 1934, 1935, 1936. This does not apply to a 1937 car. Cadillac and Lasalle V8s 1936-1948 were 100% designed and built by Cadillac. 


Here is a quote from engine serial number information included in the Cadillac and Lasalle Club roster:

      "In 1936-1937, a letter ("A" in 1936, "B" in 1937) replaces the second and third digits and immediately following zeros of the engine number. (e.g. in 1937, engine No.3130004 has frame No. 3B4). (note 3130000 is the sequence for 1937 Cadillac series 70 and 75)

     In Lasalle, numbers above 2229999 (1936) and 2239999 (1937), the "B" replaces the second number and subtracts 2 (1936) or 3 (1937) from the third number. Lasalle engine No. 2245144 has frame No. 2B15144 (the 15,144 th Lasalle engine built). Lasalle engine numbers started with 2230001. "   end quote. 


It can be determined if a car has the factory original engine if the engine number and the frame number jive according to the above code. 


Do you know where the engine serial number is on the engine? Some quick general thoughts on 1937-1940 Lasalle: Many mechanical parts and interior parts were shared with Cadillac. Lasalle body shells were shared with some models of Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. The 1937-1948 Cadillac/Lasalle flathead V8 is known for being powerful, quiet, and smooth. Only the most expensive models of Cadillac, Buick and Packard had more horsepower. Mechanical parts are generally not a problem to get. Cosmetic parts are getting difficult but not impossible. 


Was this car offered for sale on a trailer at the Kyana AACA swap meet in Louisville KY. this weekend? 


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Thank you Tom Boehm and 5219 for sharing you astounding expertise.   

I knew that I could count on the members for expertise on these issues and I am most greatful that you share it.


As for the chassis number, the owner is not in condition to get under the hood and look around the steering box to find it.  I've asked him to check the title for the VIN (of that era) and maybe that will give me a head start.  If not, Is the VIN on a tag rivited to the firewall ?  If not, where?


There is a significant dent & a crease in a fender, and I am conserned about todays collision shops having expertise to pull it back out and finish it.  I had a 49 DeSoto and it's fenders wereat least 3 - 4 times thicker than those of today.  I've looked for a replacement but not found one in good enough shape to bother with.  Can you tell me what gauge metal was used in a 37 LaSalle's front fenders, and would it have to be heated to be "bumped" back to shape?


If I buy the car, it sounds like membership in the CLC is a must.


As to the Kyana AACA swap meet: I don't believe it was there, owner is not able to travel and he doesn't sound like he is willing to turn it over to someone else a couple thousand miles away for a swap meet.



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The VIN is not on the firewall tag. The VIN is the engine number or the frame number. I have a 1940 Lasalle and the engine and frame number are the same. So I don't know which will be on the title of a 1937. 

Is this car you are considering a restoration project?

I agree, I don't think a modern "collision shop" is the best option. All they do is paint and replace parts. A shop specializing in classic car restoration would be good. Another option is a street rod shop. Even though this car is probably all stock, they have the skills to do this work. 

I don't know what gauge metal was used on the old cars. I do know that modern sheet metal on cars is thinner but harder than the old cars. The old car metal is softer and thus can be shaped. 

The car in Louisville was an extreme restoration project/parts car. 


The firewall tag will tell the model number (5029), the body number which is the xxx th  Lasalle convertible sedan built that year, a code for the original exterior color, a code for the original interior color and/or material, and possibly a code for any (SO) special order items put on by the factory. 

Edited by Tom Boehm (see edit history)
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The seller says the car ran & drove 2 years ago, when his dad drove it to the grocery store and got the dented fender.  The seller says the car is in "Excelent condition", and called the photo minor damage. I think a lot of filler is sivible in the photo.  There is a missing rear door handle and a broken Driver window, and I won't be suprised if there is a lot more to make it driveable.

If I don't buy it, are you in the market for another LaSalle?

37 Cad Fender.jpg

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I don't need another one. I'm not finished with the one I have. If I ever do this again, a convertible sedan is high on my list. Are you able to do your own work on this car? There are a lot of unknowns in a car that has been sitting, even if it is restored. There is potentially a lot of work and expense to get everything "sorted". By that I mean everything working properly and reliably. Don't overpay for this car. I am not trying to discourage you from getting this car. Just be aware that just because a car is restored doesn't mean everything works properly. You may be experienced and know all this already. 

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On 3/12/2024 at 8:16 AM, Tom Boehm said:

There are a lot of unknowns in a car that has been sitting, even if it is restored. There is potentially a lot of work and expense to get everything "sorted". By that I mean everything working properly and reliably. Don't overpay for this car. I am not trying to discourage you from getting this car. Just be aware that just because a car is restored doesn't mean everything works properly.

I agree with what Tom said - they can get a bit expensive to put back in order. Once done they are a great driving car and I don't mind driving mine in modern traffic. 


I'm pretty sure the 1937 and 1939 (like mine) have the vehicle serial numbers in the same location. Yes, they originally matched and are used for the vehicle VIN.




I'll add a few comments....chassis and engine parts are very available. You can find body and interior parts but it takes some searching (eBay, AACA members, etc.) depending what it is. You can get most all the rubber seals, mounts, etc. from Steele Rubber but again, not cheap. There are a few crazy expensive parts if you need them - like the distributor drive idler gear or the sylphon thermostat that drives the radiator shutters. You'll pay a lot to get a radiator re-cored. Chrome work is crazy expensive especially for any re-plating of the zinc cast grills/trim so pay attention to the condition of the chrome. Don't forget about the cost of tires these days (~$275/tire). These have knee action shocks which typically need rebuilt. My local body shop would have no problem repairing that fender but they'll have some time into it (it's just $$). Make sure you look under the bottom side for rot of the main body - the panel behind the gas tank is a good indicator. 


So, you can have a really nice car but like Tom said, "Don't overpay".

Good luck with the purchase if you decide to move forward and we are here to help you out, The Cadillac LaSalle Forum is also full of really smart folks too.



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I had one in the garage for repairs. distributor sprocket worn out.

the distributor shaft is too long and has no bearing, which means it can move too much during rotation and thus wear out the bronze worm gear.


IMG_2339 (2).jpg

IMG_2340 (2).jpg

IMG_2342 (2).jpg

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One other thing to consider is 37 LaSalle engine main bearings are diffetent and not sure they are available, newly reproduced. It is kind of an oddball. The heads have no ridges and I think the sn of the engine is stamped behing the distributor. The framE sn will have letters. I think starting with 2B. But the last four digits will be the same last four digits of the engine SN. The 36 346 is another oddball.

Edited by David Zitzmann
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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again to Tom & Stude Light for the info and advise.  The more I poke around and research, I seem to come up with as many questions as I come up with answers.  The owner's son to shoot the firewall tag and it may be 1938 model.  See photos and let me know your thoughts especially about overpaying.   In view of your extensive experience with these cars, if this car is in clean shape as far as the body and undercarriage go, and I can start and drive it, what would you consider a reasonable price range?  Due to scheduling issues, I am looking at the car on the morning of Wednesday 4/3. I will be looking at this forum Tuesday night for responses.


With the info from GM archives, the questions about this car just got more confusing & complicated.  The owner's son shot me a photo of the SN on the frame "2274827" .   Nothing starting with "2B" which seems to be in all the guidance I've found.   


The response from GM's Archives Allied Vaughn is :  

We have it filed under 1937

The reference book shows the # as 1938

I am also forwarding this to the GM Heritage Center .

Searching AI these are the visual differences I found between the 2 model years:   

The 1937 and 1938 LaSalle models exhibit distinct styling features. Let's delve into the visual differences:

1.  Grille Design:

    ○    1937 LaSalle: The grille tapers slightly at the top, creating a subtle slope.

    ○    1938 LaSalle: The grille is more upright and straight, with more than ten squares at the top,  at the upper section.  (I count 11 in the photo). It has a wider, "egg-crate" design and a new hood with six narrow chrome strips2 1.

2.  Headlights and Front End:

    ○    1937 LaSalle: The headlights are secured to the "cat-walk" below the grille.

    ○    1938 LaSalle: The headlights are attached to the radiator shell, and the grille is wider and more rounded at the top. Additionally, there are three chrome chevrons on the leading edge of the front fenders.   Yet I have seen photos of the 1937 model with the chevron turn signals.

3.  Other Notable Features:

    ○    Both models have pontoon fenders, streamlined "bullet" tail-lights, independent "Knee-Action" front suspension, and hydraulic brakes.

    ○    The 1938 LaSalle boasts a gold-colored "V8" symbol on the upper right side of the grille, more luxurious interiors, and an all-new dashboard.  I don't see the V8 sympoly anywhere on this grille


Along with the copy of the build sheet are the 1937 and 38 files they sent to me.   

If GM's archive people don't know if it is a 37 or 38, how can that determination be made?  Titles get changed all the time, so I don't trust that 100%.

The 5 passenger Conv. Sedan appears in the following series:  38-50, 38-60, 38-65, 38-75 & 38-90.  How do I determine which "series" a partiduclar car is?  

VIN# on Frame.jpg

1937-cadillac-lasalle-Firewall tag.jpg

Front view on street.jpg

rear view on street.jpg

Chart of Body Styles for 38.jpg

Colors for 1938 Cadilla and LaSaslle.jpg

1938 Color Combonations Continued.jpg

1902-1942 CadillacEngineSerialNumbers.jpg

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Nothing comes up when I click on the links in the previous post. Am I doing something wrong? Does anyone else have this problem?

The pictures will answer his questions.


Series 50 means it is a Lasalle. The rest are Cadillacs. Each has a different body design or front end styling. Series does not indicate body type such as coupe, sedan, convertible, etc.

Later on the series numbers were replaced with model names such as Calais, Deville, Eldorado, etc. 


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On 3/19/2024 at 8:58 AM, David Zitzmann said:


One other thing to consider is 37 LaSalle engine main bearings are diffetent and not sure they are available, newly reproduced. It is kind of an oddball.


1937-1948 322 LaSalle and 346 Cadillac all have the same bearings. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 4/5/2024 at 9:18 PM, Stude Light said:

1937-1948 322 LaSalle and 346 Cadillac all have the same bearings. 

The rod bearings are the same, but I am pretty sure the mains are different. I would have to look in the master parts book. They made changes with the engines from 36 to 38. 36 346 engine mounts are different and gen mount is different. Other bits too. 37 they put the 322 in the LaSalle and the rear main I could swear was different then 38 and up. Maybe I am wrong.

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