Sunday, August 23, 2009

1939 LaSalle Model 5019 4-Door Sedan

This 1939 LaSalle is from the marque's next-to-last year. LaSalle was a "junior Cadillac" that originated in 1927 as part of the General Motors Companion Make Program. In the 1920s, a large price gap existed between each of the General Motors brands. To close those gaps, GM has each of the the four upper brands, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac, start a "companion make." Oakland had Pontiac to fill the gap between it and Chevrolet, Oldsmobile started Viking and Buick started Marquette to handle the large gap between them, and Cadillac created LaSalle to fill the gap between it and Buick, making the new GM structure Chevrolet - Pontiac - Oakland - Oldsmobile - Viking - Marquette - Buick - LaSalle - Cadillac. Marquette lasted only for one year: 1930, while Viking lasted only from 1929 to 1931. Pontiac became so popular it quickly began far outselling its parent Oakland, and Oakland ended production in 1931. That left LaSalle.

LaSalles were stylish and featured Cadillac engines and workmanship at a lower price, and the make did quite well in its early years, carrying Cadillac through the Great Depression and outselling Cadillac 11 to 9 in 1929. In 1937, LaSalle production set a record, but a new recession in 1938 caused sales to fall dramatically. For 1939, LaSalle received new bodies, but it didn't do a lot of good. More expensive top-of-the-line Buicks and cheaper entry-level Cadillacs had also narrowed the gap that LaSalle was intended to fill, making it redundant. LaSalle would receive a minor facelift in 1940 before being dropped completely so Cadillac could focus on luxury cars.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

1969-1970 Jaguar E-Type (XKE) 4.2 2+2 Coupe

This Jaguar E-Type, or XKE, is from 1969 or 1970. It represents the last E-Type Jaguars before V12 engines were introduced and major syling changes were made.

The year can be determined by the front details. There is no clear cover over the headlight scoops, indicating a 1968 or later model, and the turn signals are below the bumper, a change made for 1969. In 1971, when V12 engines arrived, a number of styling changes were made, most noticably a large grille opening. The 1969 and 1970 models are virtually identical.

The E-Type Jaguar was available in 3 body styles: a roadster, a coupe and a 2+2 coupe with a rear seat that was introduced in 1965. The exterior styling of the 2-seat coupe and the 2+2 coupe are almost identical, but the 2+2 is distinguished by longer doors and the associated side windows, due to an additional 9 inches in wheelbase, and the chrome strip along the top of the door below the window.

Another spotting feature that identifies this as a 1969 or 1970 model is the large taillights below the rear bumper.

When the E-Type Jaguar was introduced in 1961, it was powered by a 265-horsepower 3.8-liter inline 6-cylinder Jaguar XK6 engine. In 1964, the engine displacement was increased to 4.2 liters; horsepower remained at 265 but torque increased from 260 to 283 foot-pounds. This engine was used through 1970.

The interior of the E-Type also saw some changes in 1968, primarily in the center console, where toggle switches were replaced by rocker switches and the clock was moved among the gauges from within the tachometer.

The E-Type Jaguar is one of the most collectible classic cars, and this is a fine example of one of the last before the changes that came with the V12 engine began to significantly change the design.

1936 Cord Model 810 Westchester Sedan

This is a 1936 Cord Model 810 Westchester Sedan. The Cord was one of the most ahead-of-its-time cars ever built. It was also available as a Sportsman Phaeton convertible.

The 1936 Cord 810 originated with the earlier Cord L-29, which was made from 1929-1932. The L-29 was one of the first front wheel drive cars, but was not particularly successful, and Errett Lobban Cord, who also controlled Auburn and Duesenberg, ended the Cord brand. In 1933, Gordon Buehrig designed a new car that was originally intended to fill the gap between Auburn and Duesenberg. It was originally designed as a rear wheel drive Auburn, but was modified into a Cord using the front wheel drive developed for the L-29.

The 1936 Cord 810 featured a 125-horsepower V8 engine, a four-speed pre-selector transmission, unibody construction and styling with no running boards, a rear-hinged hood, hidden headlights, hinges and fuel filler, little chrome and a wraparound "venetian-blind" grille.

Unfortunately, a late introduction and high prices kept the Cord 810 from being successful. For 1937, it became the 812, and a supercharged 170-horsepower version was offered, as was a version of the sedan on a longer wheelbase, but sales wasn't any better, and production ended after a total of 2,320 cars over the two years.

The Cord 810 and 812 are sought after by collectors, due to their low production numbers and distinctive styling. Sedans in good condition can be worth $70,000 and up, and convertibles can be worth over $100,000.

Monday, August 17, 2009

1948 Kaiser Sedan

Immediately after World War II, Henry J. Kaiser, a steel and shipbuilding magnate, and Joseph Worthington Frazer, a 35-year veteran of the auto industry, thought the time was right for a new auto company and joined forces to form the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation. The company's first cars were produced in June 1946 in the the former Ford WWII bomber plant in Willow Run, Michigan as 1947 models. There were two brands: the lower Kaiser brand and the upscale Frazer brand. Initially there were two Kaisers built for every Frazer.

By 1948, Kaiser-Frazer was the number eight automaker in the country, having passed all the other independent automakers. The car shown here is a 1948 Kaiser sedan. The styling is virtually identical to that of 1947, and the next year would see some changes.

Unfortunately, things got worse for 1949, when the company dropped to 14th place. Henry Kaiser borrowed heavily to finance new models and an all-new small car. Joseph Frazer left the company, and the Frazer brand was phased out in 1951, the same year the new small car, the Henry J, was introduced.

Neither the new full-size Kaisers nor the new Henry J were particularly successful. In 1954, Kaiser purchased Willys-Overland, builder of small cars and the famous Jeep, to become Kaiser-Willys, and the HEnry J was discontinued. Kaiser sold the Willow Run plant to General Motors and consolidated production in Willys' plant in Toledo, Ohio.

The situation didn't improve, and the US production of both Kaiser and Willys passenger cars ended in 1955. The company continued on with the Jeep product line as Kaiser-Jeep and the simply the Jeep Corporation, which was acquired by American Motors in 1970 and survives today are part of the Chrysler Corporation.

1948 Chevrolet Limousine/Car Hauler

OK, this isn't anywhere near a stock production vehicle, but it is pretty darn cool:

This Limousine/Car Hauler is based on a 1948 Chevrolet truck cab that has been stretched 11.5 feet, but the chassis is a stretched 1986 Chevrolet 1-Ton pickup chassis. Underneath the 16-foot car hauler bed is a 442-horsepower 502-cubic inch Chevrolet V8.

Inside the stretched cab is a lot of comfortable seating including captain's chairs in the front and a bar area in the back. It's hard to imagine a classier way to tow a classic car to a car show.

1957 Packard Clipper Town Sedan

This is a 1957 Packard Clipper Town Sedan. It looks suspiciously like a Studebaker sedan, and there is a reason for this.

In the early 1950s, George Mason, President of Nash Motors since 1948, had a dream of America's independent automakers banding together to form a fourth major auto company that could challenge the big three. In 1954, he started to make his dream a reality. In April 1954, Nash merged with Hudson to form American Motors. In October of the same year, Packard, under the leadership of James J. Nance since 1952, bought Studebaker to form Studebaker-Packard. This was part of the plan: after the dust had settled from those mergers, Studebaker-Packard was to merge with American Motors. But this never happened. The same month Studebaker and Packard merged, George Mason passed away unexpectedly, and his assistant, George Romney (father of Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney) took over American Motors. Romney changed direction, abandoning the plan to merge with Studebaker-Packard and eventually abandoning the Nash and Hudson names altogether, replacing them with Rambler.

This left Studebaker-Packard in trouble, as Studebaker had serious financial problems before the merger. The company tried to continue on, creating the Packard spinoff brand Clipper in 1956, but things rapidly went downhill. Nance resigned in August 1956, and Studebaker-Packard was taken over by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. With the company needing to cut costs, and with Packard's body style already several years old, the 1957 Packard line shared the Studebaker body. Unfortunately, this was obvious to most car shoppers, who saw no reason to pay the premium Packard price for what was a thinkly-disguised Studebaker. These cars became known as "Packardbakers."

Despite being considered inferior to the earlier "true" Packards, the 1957 Packards weren't bad-looking cars, although that would change for 1958, when quad headlights and another layer of tailfins were tacked on rather poorly. What buyers Packard had left were turned off, and between that and the recession, sales fell even further, and 1958 would be Packard's last year.

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