Sloan and Fisher introduce LaSalle
The car was christened by Miss Anna Danforth, daughter of A.E. Danforth, president of Cadillac Automobile Co. of Boston. Some 500 New England Cadillac dealers were present.
Fisher told the story of the LaSalle. The car was started four years ago, but because of continued experiments by Cadillac engineers, its debut has been delayed.
Sloan, GM's leader, believed firmly that his company should have a car for every pocketbook. There was a gap between Buick and Cadillac at the top of the GM lineup, and Sloan was determined to fill it. Enter the LaSalle.
But the LaSalle was much more than a gap filler. It was the first production automobile drawn by an automotive designer, so its importance extends beyond its brief market life.
Sloan worked with Fisher, the Cadillac president, and Fisher enlisted Harley Earl. Earl was chief designer for Don Lee Corp., designer of custom automobiles for the Hollywood elite.
Earl designed the LaSalle. GM set up its Art and Color (styling) Department with Earl at the helm, and the styling of production cars began.
Earlier, styling - if it could be called styling - was the province of the Engineering Department. The car's body encased the passengers and mechanical components; it wasn't intended to be pretty, and it wasn't. But Earl, LaSalle and GM put a new face on things.
The LaSalle lived from 1927 through 1940, and it is not counted among GM's great successes. It was looked upon as a baby Cadillac, and its sales totaled only 190,463.
But in eight of those 14 years, LaSalle outsold its big brother, Cadillac. Its best year was 1937, when the sales score was LaSalle, 28,906; Cadillac, 11,234.