Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction, Part 3

Continuing our tour of the cars up for auction, we encounter a 1930 LaSalle from General Motors. It was a "tweener" model — to fill the marketing gap between Buick and Cadillac (product families in order of cheapest to most expensive — Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Viking, Marquette, Buick, LaSalle, Cadillac). Harley Earl was chosen to design the LaSalle. Prior to Earl, automakers did not put much importance in the styling of the body — thus he is widely regarded as the father (or is it grandfather) of modern automotive styling — establishing GM's Art & Color Studios, that still guide General Motors' designs to this day.

The LaSalle was built by Cadillac to its high standards but at a lower price. It quickly emerged as a trend-setting vehicle. Earl was then placed in charge of overseeing the design of all of General Motors' vehicles.

This product line was offered in a full-range of body styles, including Fisher and Fleetwood Metal Body-built custom designs. The roadster could also be ordered in two-tone color combinations, at a time when dark colors like black and navy blue were still the most familiar colors produced by manufacturers. Earl's design even included a nod to the inspirational Hispano-Suiza, with the marque's circled trademark "LaS" cast into the horizontal tie bar between the front lights.

Note the mesh stone guard designed to protect the radiator.

It is interesting to note that Cadillac and LaSalle products were also linked by similarly themed names, both being named for French explorers — Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, respectively.

A 1941 LaSalle was planned and reached the design phase, before General Motors ended the product line. In its place, Cadillac fielded the "Series 61", which made the prestigious Cadillac name attainable to a larger group of customers. In its first year, the "61" enjoyed a production of over 29,000 units, almost three times that of LaSalle's 1940 production.

An interesting bit of trivia — The LaSalle was honored in the opening theme song to the popular 1971-79 television show All In The Family. In the song "Those Were the Days", Archie and Edith Bunker lament a simpler time, with the song's closing line "Gee, our old LaSalle ran great. Those were the days." After the first season, the song was re-recorded with the syllables in this line clearly enunciated, after viewers complained they could not understand the words.

Speaking of Cadillac, here is a 1931 Cadillac 355 A Roadster. Please excuse my penchant for dwelling on the hood ornaments of these older vehicles — I find them fascinating.

According to Wikipedia, "Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest automobile brands in the world. Depending on how one chooses to measure, Cadillac is arguably older than Buick."

Cadillac was founded in 1902 by Henry Leland, a master mechanic and entrepreneur, who named the company after his ancestor, Antoine de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit. The company's crest is based on a coat of arms that he had created at the time of his marriage in Quebec in 1687.

General Motors purchased the company in 1909 and within six years, Cadillac had laid the foundation for the modern mass production of automobiles by demonstrating the complete interchangeability of its precision parts while simultaneously establishing itself as America's premier luxury car.

This roadster offered a rumble seat. For those too young to be familiar with the term — it is an upholstered exterior seat which hinges or otherwise opens out from the rear deck of a pre-World War II automobile, and seats one or more passengers. An 1899 Century Dictionary describes a rumble as " A seat for servants in the rear of a carriage". Roadster, Coupe and Cabriolet auto body styles were offered with either a luggage compartment or a rumble seat in the deck. Models equipped with a rumble seat were often referred to as a sport coupe or sport roadster.

The next vehicle is listed as a Ford Model A from the same year but is actually a speedster kit car. I presume that would bring considerably less at auction than an authentic Model A. It's worth a quick look but shall we move on.

Another kit car but WOW! I guess there are kit cars and there are kit cars. This one is modeled on a 1934 Ford Custom 2 Door Coupe. But look at that engine — 350 cubic inch displacement with a list of features as long as your arm. Curiously, only a three-speed transmission.

Then I noticed the fuel tank. In case you cannot read it — "JET FUEL ONLY" and "TOTAL FUEL CAPACITY 167.8 US GALLONS". I guess that will get you off the line rather quickly.

Back to the authentic vintage autos, here is a 1935 DeSoto Airflow 4 Door Sedan made by the Chrysler Corporation. We "baby boomers" may even recall when DeSotos were still on the road — I know I do — they were discontinued in 1961.


DeSoto was originally introduced by Chrysler to compete with its arch-rivals General Motors, Studebaker, and Willys-Knight, in the mid-price class. Shortly after DeSoto was introduced, however, Chrysler completed its purchase of the Dodge Brothers, giving the company two mid-priced makes. Had the transaction been completed sooner, DeSoto never would have been introduced.



Initially, the two-make strategy was relatively successful, with DeSoto priced below Dodge models. Despite the economic times, DeSoto sales were relatively healthy, pacing Dodge at around 25,000 units in 1932.

However, in 1933, Chrysler reversed the market positions of the two marques in hopes of boosting Dodge sales. By elevating DeSoto, it received Chrysler's streamlined 1934 Airflow bodies. But, on the shorter DeSoto wheelbase, the design was a disaster and was unpopular with consumers. Unlike Chrysler, which still had more traditional models to fall back on, DeSoto was hobbled by the Airflow design until the 1935 Airstream arrived.

One interesting detail of this vehicle was the paint job. I do not know the details but it appeared to have different shades based on where you were standing — gray, blue and even purple. Curious.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com