My affair with a 1929 LaSalle.
Story and photo by Aub Smith and Brendan Walsh
"LaSalle for 1929 retained its dashing good looks. As on the companion Cadillac, parking lamps were relocated from the cowl to the tops of the front fenders."
It all began on a Sunday in September '94. I ran into Irwin Sinclair and Peter Ratcliff at the Fresh Centre Swap in Footscray Road. Peter turned to Irwin and said "Aub might be able to help you." It appeared Irwin wanted money for a deposit on something in the U.S. with 16 cylinders. As it happened I had just sold the remains of a 1909 T Ford and had this fairly large amount of money, as they say, burning a hole in my pocket. (Lucky Irwin!) So when he offered to sell me either his '29 LaSalle phaeton or the blue '35 convertible, I showed immediate interest. However the '35 LaSalle was quickly withdrawn from the offer when Bev found out, and was replaced with the '29 Phaeton!
I had admired both cars when I first saw them some 20 years before and as I liked the sporty look of the phaeton, after some haggling bought it from Irwin. The only history of the car I have is that it was shipped from the U.S. on the 26th March 1929 to Perth.
The shipping invoice gave the following details:
Engine number 416444
Top Drab Duck
Body Beaver Brown
Wheels Vivion Red
In the 1940s the car was owned by two ladies in Rosebud. Irwin had re-wooded where necessary, cut out the rust at the bottom of the body and made new valences. The rest I have done myself including new top-irons, running boards, windscreen frame, extensive work on the bonnet and guards, etc.
The gearbox and diff were OK except for new bearings, but the motor had to be rebuilt and I spent many hours on the brakes, steering and springs, etc. All die-cast items were replaced with bronze. I formed rubber moulds to produce wax copies for the foundry process. I wanted a red car so departed from the original brown to something like G.M. Firethorne Red and Black for the guards. This was all in two-pack which I applied, fitted out in my home-made air-supplied helmet. Some was done in the shed and some on the clothes hoist. (Aren't they handy?)
I wasn't confident about doing the trim and entrusted this to Grant White, who did a very nice job. All came together about the middle of March this year and the car's first official run was to Kalorama and later the Caddy event at Wagga Wagga. I have experienced some teething problems, as most do, but all appears to be OK now and I am looking forward to taking Shirley to Adelaide in the LaSalle for the Bay to Birdwood event.
Aub's car is a 1929 LaSalle Series 328 4-passenger Phaeton, job/style no 1185, built by the Fisher Body Corporation and is one of only 449 of that body style built. (Only about 16% of production was of open body styles that year.) The American price was $2,295 when released in August 1928.
The Fisher badge is located in front of the driver's door, just above the running board. (You have to look through the spare wheel spokes to see it!) The body plate is attached "to the front face of the left side of the dash", under the bonnet.
The overall look of the cars was not markedly different to the 1928 models but some important improvements had been made. Exterior brightwork was chrome plated, metallic paint was available, Synchro-Mesh Silent-Shift transmission was introduced and all windows were fitted with shatterproof security plate glass. Some body styles were available on a 134" wheelbase as well as the previous 125" wheelbase.