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Original or Restored: 1940 LaSalle 52 Coupe


Reader P. Trout found this 1940 LaSalle Coupe here on the craigslist and thought the seller’s claim of complete originality seemed to good to be true, so he sent it in to us to get all of your opinions about the claims. The seller states that it is a barn find and has never been restored just cleaned up and polished. It looks nearly mint, which does seem rather unusual for a 70 year old car with 70k miles on it. We have seen older original cars in this kind of shape, so you never know…


If you think the exterior looks pristine, you had better take a look inside. The condition of the interior makes believing the seller’s claims that much more difficult, but again anything is possible. LaSalle was one of GM’s many divisions and slotted right below Cadillac in quality and price. They were actually built and marketed by Cadillac, so build quality was on par with Cadillac’s cars.


Luxury cars in the late ’30s and early ’40s were built to the highest standards, but it seems extremely unlikely that this car is original and unrestored. P. Trout thinks it is an older restoration and we are inclined to agree with him. Perhaps we are wrong and this car is just one of the best looking 70 year old survivors we have ever seen. What do you think? Is this a survivor or is the seller trying to pull a fast one on us?


  1. Avatar photo jim s

    if the car is what the seller states why is listed on CL. there are a lot other selling options that would bring more money gross and net, i think. the car sure is great to look at. great find

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  2. Avatar photo maserati

    Why Craigslist????,if it is that perfect?? Something smell’s funny

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  3. Avatar photo 88R107

    Not sure what it is or isnt. I do know its a nice one.

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  4. Avatar photo ConservativesDefeated

    Come on guys………..a phone call and 40 grand will solve this. IMHO…original and not pimped up will bring the money on the future. Anyone ( who has it and is willing to spend it)can dump money on a car and change it from the way it rolled out of the factory..

    They are only original…whatever that means…once.

    I wish I had 40 large. I am this cars’ target audience

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  5. Avatar photo geomechs Member

    Sometimes you’d be amazed at how well a car can be preserved. As long as the storage facility is dry and free of rodents, I’ve seen even wood-bodied cars stand the test of time. But in this case I’d have to see it up close and personal to form a final opinion.

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  6. Avatar photo Scot in San Jose

    The fabric does not look right on the seats. It could just be the photo. Would have to see it in person to be sure.

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  7. Avatar photo rancho bella

    What a dandy car. I am put off by the “GIANT” whitewalls……..just a tad over the top.
    I would be hard pressed to believe the dear has never been redone…….

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  8. Avatar photo Chris H.

    Count me as super-skeptical as well. Black paint doesn’t age well unless given the “white glove” treatment, additionally, I don’t think the paint was quite this lustrous from the factory, though photos can lie…
    On the other hand, I’ve seen 20,000 mile “unrestored” cars that looked worse than something dredged from the bottom of a lake, so, anything is possible given enough patience and OCD, I guess.

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  9. Avatar photo Hoyt Clagwell

    On closer inspection of the photos, I don’t think the car’s nearly so perfect and shiny as it looks at a glance–the paint appears to be thoroughly crazed inside the doors, and scuffed and chipped where body panels meet, inside the wheel wells, on the vent door, etc. There appears to be a lot of chrome missing from the rear bumper. It may just be that the bright sunlight and selective camera angles make the car look a lot fresher and shinier in the pictures than it really is.

    The seats look like maybe they were recovered in the late 50’s with a nubby synthetic?

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  10. Avatar photo Steve Darden

    When did Chevy build a Flathead V 8 as stated in the ad (“Engine: The engine is the original GM Flathead V8 at 322 CI and 125 HP” correct me if I am wrong.

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    • Avatar photo geomechs Member

      Chevy never built a flathead V8, not even in 1918 when they attempted a V8 for the first time. Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Cadillac divisions all built flathead V8s. I think Olds stopped producing theirs before the 20s while Pontiac entered the 30s with theirs. Cadillac was the final holdout, making one until the late 40s, including several V-8 engine/Hydramatic combinations for the army during the war. I guess if it works, why change it?

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  11. Avatar photo A.Rogers

    I’ve been a “car guy” for 65 yrs. the car looks legit to me inside & out.
    And chevy never built a flat head V8 but Cadillac did & this is a baby caddy.

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    • Avatar photo scottski

      Better grillework, too.

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  12. Avatar photo R. Montgomery

    I doubt that this car, with 70,000 miles on it is unrestored. At 70 yrs. old and that mileage it seems impossible to me.

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    • Avatar photo ECW

      I have to agree. How can anyone drive 70,000 miles and not put even the slightest stain or tear on that interior? If it was perfectly stored from day one in a hermetic bubble, driven a few hundred miles, OK maybe. But unless they wore cotton gloves and booties and surgical clean suits to drive it only on perfect 72 degree, dry but overcast days I just don’t buy it.
      Was/is it a stunning top quality restoration that has lasted decades? No doubt about it. I’d be just as thrilled to own it as an example that was more obviously truly ‘unrestored”. Maybe more.

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  13. Avatar photo paul

    You can never really tell from photo’s you need to see this one up close & personal to really know for sure, that said, climate has a lot to do with whether a car will hold up all this time ideally cool & dry & of course as geomechs writes a dry & free of rodents storage facility, as well.

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  14. Avatar photo P Trout

    Car is listed on Hemmings as well.
    More pictures there too.
    Has the same text in the listing.

    Has an AACA tag from 1977 that says “Senior National First Prize Winner”

    I would love to see her up close.

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  15. Avatar photo Johannes Holub

    the photographer was a bit heavy handed with the star filters.

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  16. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    This was in someone’s climate-controlled, rodent-secure “barn” and never got attention any more often than once a week. Yep, that’s the ticket.

    Maybe the auction houses think that nobody remembers what a LaSalle is and they all refused to put it in their auctions. Other than that, I’m having a lot of trouble seeing how this near-perfect ‘barn find’ is on CL.

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    • Avatar photo Dave

      Who cares whether or not it has been restored? I sure don’t.

      If it looks this nice I don’t care if it was “restored to original in the 50’s” or untouched since a decade or so before that . Just so long as it wasn’t subjected to a butcher/hack attempt at poor quality restoration involving duct tape & bondo

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    • Avatar photo Dolphin Member

      Dave, I don’t know whether it’s been restored or not, but I don’t believe that someone ‘found’ it in a barn. It looks like it has had regular care by a skilled car person, which is great for preserving the car. But the seller’s statement that the “barn find” claim is “no crap” tells me that he is a person I don’t want to deal with and that he’s probably using the barn find story as hard-sell marketing. The fact that the CL listing for the car has been flagged and removed suggests that other viewers also had trouble believing everything in the listing.

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  17. Avatar photo Jim-Bob

    The interior does indeed look too good to be true, but I think everyone has missed another possibility: seat covers. During this time, many people had clear plastic seat covers made for their new cars and fitted by an upholstery shop. If that was done when this was new, then it is possible that the car survived long enough to get in the hands of a enthusiast in the 70’s who then removed them and kept the car in immaculate condition. The only gripe I have is that the padding should have worn down a bit, however the materials used then are different than today and may weather time better.

    The only real way to tell would be to see the car in person. It may be legit, or it may look legit due to the age of a previous restoration.

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  18. Avatar photo bobcatslim

    What this craigslist ad needs in order to inspire confidence in the ‘unrestored’ claims is merely some close-up macro photos of panel gaps, interior stitching, and/or any owner perceived flaws in the paint and interior. My 1994 Ford Ranger is also unrestored, and would look absolutely perfect in a craigslist ad with photos taken at a distance of 10′.

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  19. Avatar photo Dolphin Member

    Flagged and removed

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  20. Avatar photo widouttadoubt

    Great car, but…the AACA Senior Award in ’77 would tell me this is a restored car. Maybe from the 70’s, and has been in storage for a good long time. They didn’t have an HPOF award at that time. They keep good records and its info probably could be found.

    Plus, virtually no wear on pedal covers and door panels? Headliner shows no staining? I, too, think the carpets and rubber mats are wrong as well as the firewall lining. They both look like the wrong patterns and materials. Overall the paint and chrome is too good for 70K miles. Still, I do like this car a lot.

    Is there a Cad/LaS expert in the house?

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  21. Avatar photo Brian

    Some people’s idea of an all orginal car is a car that hasn’t been customized; to them, the fact that it’s been repainted, reupholstered, and rechromed doesn’t matter. At this point the car is what it is, orginal or not. A better question is, “Is it worth the asking price?” As far as it’s orginality, let the buyer beware!!!

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