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.

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