Coal Mine Canary: 1930 LaSalle Two Passenger Coupe

One of the sadder parts of this job is writing about neat cars that nobody seems to be excited about restoring.  While the market is strong for some prewar cars, the majority of survivors are languishing until they are eventually sold for bargain basement prices.  From there, they usually end up as street rods, lawn art, or shoved yet again into the corner of a garage or barn.  Take for example this 1930 LaSalle two passenger coupe being sold on eBay out of Mariposa, California.  This neat little coupe, which was partially disassembled and forgotten, currently has zero bids at the $2,500 starting price.  With just two days to go, you would think that someone would be interested in this neat little coupe with a V-8 and a golf club door in the side.  Is it the automotive equivalent of a canary in a coal mine?

Yes, I said golf club door.  Back in the twenties and early thirties, golf became very popular.  So much so that a number of higher end manufacturers began offering small doors in the passenger sides of their coupes to make sliding a bag of golf clubs in the car easier.  To make this mental picture work, you have to understand that golf club bags were not the Al Czervik specials we see today.  The small door was a nice touch, and showed how responsive to the market manufacturers were back then.  As we boringly migrate to an all SUV existence, a little style like this would go a long way towards reviving the coupe body style.

At any rate, the car you see here in the photos has the usual back story.  It was partially disassembled by a previous owner in anticipation of a restoration.  That process obviously did not occur, and a few parts went missing between then and now.  The current seller tells us that it is missing headlights, one running board, and a few other items.  There has been some reassembly, but the main problem is that the wood in the body has rotted away.  Cars back then had a wooden framework built up for a large part of the body, then the metal was attached.  While not an easy repair, this can be fixed.  Some companies offer wood kits for more popular cars, and others have been successful in welding a framework up and then hiding it with the car’s upholstery.

Another problem is that the front fenders had a section cut off for some reason.  It looks like the chopped parts were kept, and these can be welded back on by a welder with some skill.  Welding sheet metal is an art, and it takes a patient welder to do it correctly.  Other than the unexplainable butcher work, the dismantled parts look to be restorable.  Chrome work would be costly, but at least the bumpers are there and appear to be straight.  The seat springs also look like an upholsterer can use them.  As for the running board, a duplicate shouldn’t be too difficult to fabricate.

Inside, we see that most of the dash instruments are there.  We can also see that the dash trim is intact, but only partially attached.  The steering whell is in good shape, and there is at least one set of door handles.  There certainly seems enough to work with here.

In the rear of the interior, we see where the current owner has temporarily jacked up the body to keep it from sagging.  While this is not a good problem to have, we can see that the relative simplicity of the interior would make rebuilding this support structure in wood or steel a fairly straightforward repair.  Something would have to be done before the car is transported.  Those jacks wouldn’t stay in place long on a bumpy ride, and the shaking action would probably damage the unsupported sheet metal.  The open floor also makes me wonder if this car had a wooden floor rather than stamped sheet metal.

Under the hood is a 340 cubic inch Cadillac V-8 that pumped out 90 horsepower.  This was a lot of horsepower for the time, and the engine had a reputation for smoothness and reliability.  We can see from the picture that nothing appears to be missing.  I unfortunately cannot explain how the carburetor might work in this engine.  Logic would dictate that the grey lump of metal in the top center of the engine handles the metering and distribution of fuel.  Is this an updraft carburetor of some sort?  Hopefully a reader can set us straight here.  Sadly, the seller reports that the engine won’t turn.  The good news is that not a lot of effort was put into the endeavor.  Perhaps some soaking time might make this one come free.

So what we have here is a fairly expensive and sporty car from the early thirties that is mostly complete and free of rust through.  All the parts you need to get it running and driving are there, and the missing parts could likely be found in the meantime.  Yet it still isn’t attracting any bidders.  What a shame, as this would likely be a fun car to own once you got through all the work.

Why do you think this car is attracting no interest?  What does a canary in the coal mine like this mean for the hobby?

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    Jeff,

    Nice write-up on this Lasalle. This topic has been discussed a lot in the classic car milieu, and it’s a topic that should be discussed more and more as time marches on. Obviously the bottom line is that we all like cars we grew up with…my brother, 11 years my junior, likes the ’84 Buick Grand National. I have no interest in that car, or really any vintage car after say 1975.

    I’m vintage 1958, and just bought a ’63 Riviera, I love it. And today, I lost my mind and bought a ’67 Newport Custom 2-door. These were cars from my childhood. Do I dig the brass-era cars? Yes! But even at the ripe age of 61 I just wouldn’t take this Lasalle on as a project, and I don’t think there are folks older or younger than me that are interested either. Those brass-era enthusiasts are dead and gone, and the I-phone crowd certainly won’t have any connection to this jalopy. Time marches on!

    10
    • glen

      I’m a fan of “Brass -Era” vehicles, still alive and well!

      4
    • David Conwill

      Speak for yourself. The cars I grew up with are just crummy versions of modern cars. It’s the earlier stuff that is actually fun to drive.

      5
    • JP

      It’s not actually a brass-era car, but point well taken.

      7
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I get your point not only is interest in these old beauties waning but hands on abilities have disappeared too. I don’t know of a single family in my circle of friend where there young adults know one end of wrench from the other. Young modern mechanics don’t know how to work on this old stuff either, most have never even seen a carburetor much less work on one. Now a days diagnostics are done with a lap top computer. In my time as a mechanic a lot was left to your instincts and base knowledge. Now it’s plug and play. Unfortunately for this car is we are fast running out of DIY guys with the skills and passion for this old iron.

      2
  2. Coventrycat

    You can’t save them all. This will be one of them.

    9
  3. JBP Member

    I think its a nice projekt. Also price is ok. Would love to fix body, and free the engine.
    But i have the barn full, and no place to store it.

    4
  4. Dave

    Is that the gas tank at the very rear there? Wow.

    1
  5. Chinga Trailer

    That is not a carburetor but an early proton contabulator injector system. Pre-magnatized fuel molecules would mix with water and coal dust, resulting in extreme power output but no toxic emissions. Because economy of at least 78 mpg resulted, the technology was squashed by a consortium of horse breeders, steam proponents and rubber band manufacturers who saw it as a threat to their industries, with whom they felt the future of transportation belonged.

    13
    • John S

      And what most folks don’t know is that a “early proton contabulator injector system” was the pre-cursor to the “Flux-Capacitor”!!! Verrrry rare!!!

      6
  6. JP

    It would cost approximately $1 bazillion to properly restore this thing, and afterwards you’d have a car worth less than a bazillion. And that’s why there’s no real interest.

    7
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I don’t fully agree a good scronger with a wide skill set could do this on a budget I’ve put in 9 years off and on restoring my car and I’m 80% there. I sewed my own head liner for example because I know how to sew. I’ve refitted brakes out of an 02 caravan to get modern stopping power got the caravan from a friend for nothing because the trans was no good. Somtimes you don’t need new parts just good serviceable used parts. When you send this off to a shop to get someone else to do it that’s when it costs a bizillion dollars

      2
  7. Gaspumpchas

    Al Cservik, LMAO!!!

    Cheers
    GPC

    1
  8. Ted Rembrandt, Car Envisionist

    I can’t believe this didn’t sell the minute it hit open air, am I missing something? It’s in much better shape than some of the old iron we see, good bones, and comes with the majority of what it needs, what’s not to like? I agree it’s not a candidate for a concours resto but sheesh, this car screams build me a Butler big inch Poncho, T-56, 8.8, and paint me Butternut Yellow…………my consulting fees are cheap and my artwork is better than the cookie cutters out there right now.. ;)

    3
  9. David Duivesteyn

    Maybe that’s Archie and Edith Bunkers old LaSalle?

    3
    • Tony

      I heard that thing ran great.

  10. Bill Wilkman

    Like you, I hate to see vintage cars street rodded or worse turned into rolling junk piles, otherwise known as rat rods. And, it wouldn’t take a bazillion dollars to restore this car. It’s a solid car and if one did all the work oneself, it could be brought back to life at a reasonable cost. No, you would likely never get you money back, but most restorations are, in reality, labors of love, not financial investments.

    6
    • JP

      Even if you did all the work yourself (and i doubt there’s any single person who could do it all), you’d still be in for .75 bazillion. Now if, for you, that’s reasonable, I’d definitely go for it!

      2
      • canadainmarkseh Member

        I’m doing all my own work every last bit of it. “Why” Because I know how and I have the tool crib to back me up. Not all the really skilled hands on guys are dead yet. There are still a few of us left.

        2
  11. Little_Cars Little_Cars

    That has to be one of the coolest looking heads on a 1930’s car I’ve ever seen. Would look right at home on a much more modern car. Wonder what the cast-in “HO/HG/HC” stands for?

    • Randy

      H.C.= high compression.

      1
  12. healeydays

    What a shame. It only got $2,650.00.

    6
    • JP

      I’ll bet $.5 bazillion someone bought this thing for the uber cool engine alone. Not a bad deal for $2650.

      3
  13. Doc

    Having restored several cars of this vintage, this car as has two strikes against it. The missing parts will be impossible to find, and fabrication will be prohibitively expensive. The bigger issue is the wood kit. It’s unlikely that there’s one commercially available, and building one from scratch is work for a master woodworker- there’s a lot of subtle compound curves, and anything less than perfection will warp the body panels and look terrible.

    This is still a restorable car, but as an orphan marque with little following it will take a labor of love, a lot of skill, and deep pockets to do it right.

    6
    • canadainmarkseh Member

      I’d repair the wood if it’s not to bad otherwise I’d build a steel tube frame out of 11/2”HSS and have a much stronger car body when done.if this were my car I could build that body frame for about 1g in materials

  14. Bill Wilkman

    I’ve restored three cars that were in pretty rough condition. In all cases, I did all work except the final paint. $20,000 will suffice if the car is basically solid.

    3
  15. TimM

    Sorry but I couldn’t buy this car!! It’s rare and should probably be restored!!! Me however see the top chopped three inches the body channeled down ove the frame!! A small block with a 9 inch rear with posi!!! Classic interior!!! Don’t hate me it’s just my way!!!

    3
    • John S

      I’d rather see that than see it rot. But put a vintage Caddy mill in it… There’s nothing Chevy about this car!

      3
  16. bobhess Member

    Right along with TimM.

  17. no juan

    Such a cool car!

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