1940 LaSalle Model 52 Convertible Coupe
The original body tag on this LaSalle indicates that it was a non-standard color, with the paint code left blank and the interior marked with “SO” meaning “special order.”
Introduced in 1927 as a companion car for Cadillac, LaSalle became the style leader that created the Harley Earl legend and powered General Motors’ Art & Colour department for more than a decade. With stylish offerings inspired by European designs, the early LaSalles were game-changing machines. By the late ‘30s, however, expanding competition from both within and outside of GM, as well as a dwindling market for ultra-luxury Cadillacs meant that LaSalle’s days were numbered. 1940 would be the final year of production, and ended after just 17 weeks of production, making the 1940 LaSalles some of the rarest of the breed.
This handsome 1940 LaSalle Series 52 convertible coupe has been restored as necessary, but never given a complete, frame-off restoration. It’s a solid, complete, clean car that emphasizes GM’s new-for-1940 “torpedo” bodies, which were longer, lower, and sleeker than previous offerings. Only 425 Series 52 convertible coupes were built, and thanks to their rugged and reliable 322 cubic inch V8 engines, state-of-the-art chassis, and well-appointed interiors, they remain outstanding collector vehicles for the enthusiast who enjoys putting his hardware on the road.
This car was repainted and reupholstered recently by a Harley-Davidson enthusiast who had the LaSalle refinished to match his prized motorcycle. The color is not correct for a 1940 LaSalle, but it is a handsome metallic maroon called Laser Red and culled from the Harley-Davidson color catalog. Interestingly, however, the original body tag on this LaSalle indicates that it was a non-standard color, with the paint code left blank and the interior marked with “SO” meaning “special order,” so there’s no way to know what it was originally—it very well might have been a bright maroon with a brown leather interior!
Bodywork appears quite straight and clean, and there are few signs of rust or deterioration underneath, suggesting that this has always been a clean car and that very little bodywork was required. Much of the chrome appears original and in fair to good condition, while the bumpers and bumper guards have been freshly re-plated. The overall look is flashy, and entirely appropriate for a ‘40s convertible, and I can personally attest that it attracts a lot of attention on the road and when it’s parked.
Inside, there’s an all-new interior that looks fantastic. Again, like the bodywork, the material may not be 100% authentic, but the patterns appear accurate and quality of the workmanship is outstanding. The rough-hewn leatherette upholstery is durable and comfortable, and there’s obviously new stuffing in the seats, so you sit high with a commanding view of that long, pointed hood. New dark brown carpets and custom floor mats with matching leatherette binding have been installed, and you can see how thoroughly the work was done simply by looking in the convertible top well, where it has been fully finished to match. The gauges have been recently rebuilt and sport fresh faces, and accessories like the clock, radio, and heater system are still intact.
Speaking of the top, it’s new black Stayfast canvas with red leather piping, which ties in perfectly with the exterior and is in almost new condition, and it folds easily with a touch of a switch on the dashboard. There’s a matching brown boot for the top, and the trunk has been upholstered to match the interior, complete with a spare tire cover. The overall effort on the interior is quite impressive.
The LaSalle used a version of Cadillac’s rugged and reliable flathead V8 engine, slightly smaller at 322 cubic inches, but making a very respectable 130 horsepower. Coupled with a 3-speed manual transmission with column-mounted shifter, the LaSalle is eager in traffic, and cruises easily at modern highway speeds. The engine bay is tidy, with Cadillac olive green paint on the block, newer ignition system components, and a correct Carter carburetor on top. It starts and runs easily, and is a pleasure to drive on the open road. Clutch action is light, the transmission shifts without any complaints, and the brakes are firm and confidence-inspiring, particularly given their age. The single exhaust has a muted hum that sounds right coming from a Cadillac, and four 6.50-16 Lester wide whitewall tires have been installed on the original wheels with trim rings and “LaS” hubcaps. Overall, this is a car that simply goes about its business without any fussing or extra attention.
This is a handsome, fun-to-drive convertible with a lot of charisma. The V8 has good power, making the car is easy to drive with wonderful road manners, and thanks to that spectacular interior, it’s as comfortable as you would expect from a Cadillac. LaSalles are showing significant gains in the market, with similar cars selling for $60-80,000, making this one somewhat of a bargain. Call us today for all the details on this lovely LaSalle convertible coupe.