GM’s long-serving president, Alfred P. Sloan was a man of tremendous vision. He saw the company into its greatest days and in the process developed many new strategies that still influence the automobile industry to this day. One of his more influential ideas was that of the companion brand. In the 1920s, Sloan had seen an ever growing price gap between the various brands within GM. Buick, Oldsmobile and Oakland each had their own companion brand to help bridge the gaps between lines, in the form of Marquette, Viking and Pontiac, respectively. When looking at Cadillac, Sloan decided that a new companion line should be offered below the famous brand, one that would provide “built by Cadillac” prestige at a price point that was more realistic for upper-middle class buyers. The new brand was called LaSalle and it offered a full range of attractive body styles built by Fisher and Fleetwood. The attractive bodies were penned by a talented young stylist named Harley Earl, in his first role at General Motors.
LaSalle enjoyed a rather successful run in its first few years, beginning in 1927. The Harley Earl styling was fresh and very attractive and LaSalle’s influence began to trickle down across the rest of the GM line. Fitment of Cadillac’s V8 engine meant the LaSalle was quite rapid and sporty thanks to the smaller and lighter chassis in comparison to its big brother. The onset of the Great Depression did put a damper on sales, however. Marquette and Viking had been killed off by 1930, but LaSalle was allowed to soldier on until the plug was pulled in 1941. In spite of consistently outselling Cadillac, LaSalle was shuttered to protect Cadillac’s reputation as a leader in the market against the likes of cross-town rivals at Packard.
Our featured 1930 LaSalle Model 4060 Phaeton is a handsome older restoration and a very usable example of this classic marque. The very desirable Fleetwood-built Phaeton body is finished in cream over brown fenders, chassis and coach lines with orange pinstripes and cream wheels providing the accents. While the restoration was completed some years ago, it was a proper full-nut-and-bolt affair that still presents nicely today. The paint is lovely, with a nice gloss and crisp body lines. A myriad of accessories are fitted such as dual sidemount spares, chrome spare-mounted mirrors, radiator stone guard, twin Trippelights, goddess radiator mascot and wind wings. Much of the chrome has been refreshed, though the bumpers do appear a bit careworn, though otherwise straight and solid.
The tan leather interior is tidy and attractive with a moderate patina on the front seats and carpet, while the rear seat doesn’t show too many signs of use. The driver’s seat shows some heavy creasing though is intact and still quite attractive. Original instruments grace the simple and clean dash, with dials to indicate water temp, oil pressure, amps, fuel level, speed as well as a lovely Jaeger clock. The large tan canvas top is in very good condition, showing no staining or excessive wear. Likewise, the top frame operates smoothly and is straight and free of damage. A matching tan canvas cover is fitted over the trunk, which is held in place with bridle leather straps.
Cadillac’s famous V8 engine is found under the hood and is well presented. The engine is clean and presents in period appropriate finishes, though it is not fussy or overdetailed. The presentation is in keeping with approachable and usable nature of this car. The V8 runs strong, smooth and the car performs simply beautifully on the road. As a recognized CCCA Full Classic, it would make an excellent tour car and would be superb for taking the family on ice cream runs or weekend getaways. It is easy to operate and a delight to drive, particularly when the large top is folded and everyone can enjoy the open air and the spacious cabin.