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Those Were the Days: 1939

Those Were the Days: 1939

San Francisco, 1939. "General Motors exhibit, Golden Gate International Exposition. Girl sitting on LaSalle auto." The five-passenger touring sedan only $1581, "delivered here." 8x10 inch Agfa acetate negative. View full size.


Double sided

About those tires: was the practice designed to encourage reversing the tires periodically to even out wear or was it simpler to put the white walls on both sides?

Selfie Alert

Check the bumper!

No thermostat now

@ Doubleclutchin - I have worked on new vehicles that do not use a thermostat. The water pump is driven by an electric motor, and is only used when necessary. An engine driven water pump steals horsepower, and doesn't need to flow as much at idle compared to higher RPM. The electric water pump can be turned off and on, and the speed varied according to demands the PCM calculates.

Shutter what?

If you look closely, behind the grille of this La Salle you can see the "shutterstats" -- vertical vanes in front of the radiator that opened and closed thermostatically to control air flow. Although slower in operation, it was arguably a better sytem for controlling underhood temperatures than the current practice of thermostically regulating coolant flow.

No Market Niche

Save for the Pontiac, LaSalle was the longest lived of GM's "companion" marques. Often quite stylish and always a bargain, LaSalle lay at an uncomfortable point on the price spectrum, overlapping the most expensive models of Buick and Oldsmobile on the low end and the cheaper series of Cadillacs on the upper.

In the end, it was perceived as stealing sales from GM's other marques and axed accordingly.

But yes, with its Cadillac flat-head V-8, it ran great indeed!

Whitewalls on the inside?

Were those tires white on both sidewalls?

[Double-sided whitewalls were fairly common until the very early 1940s. -tterrace]

Whitewall tires

Those whitewall tires would be a real chore to keep clean. Some tires were white on both sides, supposedly to keep them cooler. Could this event be taking place in the "Cow Palace"?

[As the caption says, this was at the Golden Gate International Exposition, aka World's Fair, on Treasure Island. -tterrace]

It's the penultimate!

The LaSalle introduced a new era of automotive styling (1927) and the legendary designer, Harley Earl. 1940 was its last year of production.

White tires extra

The Vogue Tyre & Rubber Co. of Chicago introduced the white tire 25 years earlier. Ford first offered a white tire option in April, 1934, for $11.25, not sure what that would be in today's economy. As a child, it was my job to clean the whitewalls with cleanser and a brillo pad, but rinse them quickly or else you're left with blue & whitewall tires, grandpa wouldn't have that!


Our old LaSalle ran great!

My Parents' First Car

My parents had one of those as their first car after they married. Somewhere I have a photo of them with it. Mom was often mistaken for Rita Hayworth when they lived in California and looked a lot better on the fender than this woman, even in blue jeans.

Dad later gave the LaSalle to his brother who had ten kids. His brother still had it when I came along. But then, they still had everything they'd ever owned. My aunt was not a housekeeper so whenever she and the kids filled up the big old two-story, my uncle would just build her another just like it nextdoor. Cars accummulated the same way around their three houses and the old LaSalle was two abandoned houses over.

The last time I saw the LaSalle it was still in one piece, but every horizontal surface had been caved in by ten unruly kids jumping up and down on it. By then, my uncle had moved on to collecting Edsels.

I wouldn't be surprised if that LaSalle is still where I last saw it 50 years ago.

2015 LaSalle

$1,581 would be $27,000 in today's dollars.

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