Has the interest in pre-war Cadillac and LaSalle faded away?

Started by z3skybolt, April 25, 2017, 09:26:24 PM

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z3skybolt

Gents,

For the past few months while waiting for my 1940.... 346 engine to have it's overhaul completed I have read all the postings on this forum except in the WANT TO BUY column. I am 52 pages into that thread now, back to April 2013.  I've noticed that as recently as 3 or 4 years ago there were many, many posting concerning cars from the 30s and 40s.

However for the past 2 or 3 years there is are few mentions of automobiles from this era. Did I miss the golden era for my 1940 LaSalle?  Has the desire for pre-war vehicles been lost to an earlier generation? 

I am 69 years of age and may be among the younger (that's a laugh) persons to still treasure these older cars. If so...my only regret is that I did not get involve a few years sooner. Either way I anxiously await the return of my engine from the rebuilder. Hopefully the LaSalle will be back on the road by mid summer. I cannot wait.

I am so grateful for this forum and all the experiences shared here.

Bob
1940 LaSalle 5227 Coupe(purchased May 2016)
1985 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series. Bought New.

Tom Boehm

I am 52 and I have had my 1940 Lasalle for 20 years. I agree with Bob that interest in pre war cars is waning. The focus now is on cars from the 50's and 60's. Many reproduction parts for my car are no longer available. Also some knowledgeable club members who were familiar with these cars from their younger days have died. Tom Boehm, New Albany Indiana.

Jeff Wilk

Bob, I'd say that the interest has not faded away but rather the buyers have in great numbers, and it's not limited to Cadillac and LaSalle.  I've also been a '33 Chevrolet owner for 38 years, only 1 year longer than being a Cadillac owner, and 5 years ago was super fortunate enough to be able to acquire an uber rare '33 Chevrolet Phaeton with all of it's provenance back to its original bill of sale.  While complete and not rotted it is in need of a fully deserved frame off restoration which is my plan.  Here too, however, the challenge is one of money in Vs money out.  A short 10 years ago there would be no doubt that the restoration would double the investment.  Five years ago a 150% return would be reasonable. Today, I'd be lucky to break even.  What's selling for the big bucks these days, and a horrible thought, is to take the car and do a RestoMod to it to make it look OEM, but drive like today's cars......I can't phathom the thought on this car.

Even on the recent BJ and Mecum Auctions, the full classic cars from the 20's, 30's that easily have over $100k into restoration costs are selling for far far less than that.  A recent BJ auction had the most gorgeous Pierce Arrow that must have had $30k in chrome work alone, sold for just over $50k if I recall........

So, IMO, there is still interest, just not the money chasing them like there used to be unless of course it is a full one off classic that must be in a collection for the right person.....

Jeff
"Impossible Only Describes The Degree Of Difficulty" 

Southern New Jersey

1959 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special
1975 Eldorado Convertible (#12 made)
1976 Cadillac Mirage (factory authorized Pick-Up)
1933 Phaeton Chevrolet - "Baby Cadillac"
1933 Master Sedan Chevrolet - "Baby Cadillac"

SOLD
1958 Cadillac Sixty-Special
1958 Cadillac Sixty-Special
1958 Cadillac Sedan
1958 Cadillac Coupe Deville

Scot Minesinger

The prewar cars are much more of a work of art than the post war cars.  I think that post war cars are made more for the driver and prewar more for the passengers.

I'm 56 and the 1961 thru say 1976 Cadillac are the most interesting to me.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and a 1970 Cadillac just draws me to it, whereas way less interest in a muscle car.  I was a kid when these car were new and they commanded attention - you made it in life if you drove one. 

Another reason I like them is they are extremely drivable in modern traffic and can be made fairly safe.  Seatbelts were around in the 50's, 1962 delivered dual master cylinder brakes, 1967 first year of collapsible steering column, 1968 first year for flush door handles (maybe door beams for side impact protection), 1969 all Cadillacs disc brakes, head restraints, locking column all standard standard.  Then radials by 1973.  You can easily add a modern collapsible steering wheel, power dual master cylinder with disc brake system and door beams to a 1961 Cadillac.

Also this era of cars generally very comfortable and often have (or can be added) tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, power seats, power locks, power windows, twilight sentinel, trunk release and pull down - basically everything a modern car except nav system and cup holders.

I would not want a 1970 series 75 where the front seat is fixed and no tilt wheel because it is meant for the passengers, not the driver.

I think the pre war cars will always command respect and be desired, maybe by fewer people, but that is OK maybe they do not know what they are missing.  Oldest car I ever drove or rode in was a 1954 Cadillac series 62 convertible and I was very impressed with power and handling.  Maybe the public just needs more exposure to prewar cars.



 
Fairfax Station, VA  22039 (Washington DC Sub)
1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1970 four door Convertible w/Cadillac Warranty

The Tassie Devil(le)

One of the problems with obtaining a pre-war anything is that the people with them, don't want to sell them, and if they did want to, the prices would be too high for most people.

Plus, obtaining parts for them is getting into the realms of unobtanium.   Even post-war stuff is getting dearer, and scarcer.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

Steve Passmore

It certainly is true. Interest seems to be directly linked to age. When I was young most of the valuable interest was in teens and 20s cars. That's what you saw at the shows. My interest was 30s and these guys couldn't understand that. Now these people have gone, their cars are in museums and my kind of cars took centre stage. The next generation under me only had eyes for 40s and 50s cars. I couldn't understand that as they were my daily drivers and so it go's on. My son in his 30s wants nothing but 70s cars and while people might still admire my cars at shows they do not want to own them.
As we all die off the demand is not there and the price drops.unless the car is exotic.  There are also 'bubbles' that certain cars go through where their value skyrockets . I have seen it with 41 convertibles, sadly after I sold mine >:(   Then it was the 59 convertibles.  These bubbles seem to be moving along with the generations. Here right now it's happening with 70s Aston martins and Morgans which completely bewilders me. In 30 years it will be cars from 2000s if they ever can be restored? I doubt it with all the technology which will be obsolete but any that survive will be worth a fortune.
Steve

Present
1937 60 convertible coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe
1941 62 coupe

Previous
1936 70 Sport coupe
1937 85 series V12 sedan
1938 60 coupe
1938 50 coupe
1939 60S
1940 62 coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe x2
1941 61 coupe
1941 61 sedan x2
1941 62 sedan x2
1947 62 sedan
1959 62 coupe

Jay Friedman

Bruce, I think it depends on the make of the car.  The parts for pre-war Fords are plentiful and I imagine they always will be.  I owned a '32 Ford until 2012 and there were no parts that weren't available. 

On the other hand, I've heard from friends who own Chrysler products cars that pre-war parts for even Plymouths and Dodges are not easy to find.

As for post-war, so far almost all parts for my '49 Cad are available.  The only exceptions are some of the chrome trim pieces and if you search for a while even those can be found for a price.

1949 Cadillac 6107 Club Coupe
1932 Ford V8 Phaeton (restored, not a rod).  Sold
Decatur, Georgia
CLC # 3210, since 1984
"If it won't work, get a bigger hammer."

Chuck Patton

#7
Hello

Interesting topic for discussion with very valid points.  I love every LaSalle....but that market is in decay.  As a Global Appraiser-Broker-Consultant I have observed a decline in value and interest by the United States population in Prewar American cars.  However in Asia, Australia and Europe there is a great surge to acquire Postwar American Iron by Generation Xers and Millennials.  To avoid "bubbles" I advise my clients to purchase an original condition, low production or restored vehicle to achieve a good return on investment.
Appraiser-Broker-Consultant
Past CLC National Board Director
Past CLCMRC Director
Past CLC Motor City Region President
CLC 1959-60 Cadillac Chapter Director
CLC Life Member #23147

cadillac ken

I've got to believe it's the $$ thing.  There are a select few that can afford a restored (or needing restoration) pre-war Cadillac.  The production numbers are low-- in comparison to post war Cadillacs.  Many guys are now finding out the truth in terms of money that it takes to "do" a pre-war Cadillac.

There are guys with the big money than can afford them but after that there are still many cars that are just too expensive (not overpriced mind you) for the average working man to afford in today's economy.  The costs to restore a car, as most of us know here on the forum, is going up every year.  As has been pointed out, you seldom can "make money" on even a well restored car-- of any year, make or model.

Sadly it appears that this is a hobby that is simply getting too expensive for the "hobbyist" to enjoy.

As a side note, I've been looking at a 250 Ferrari for sale.  It is missing the motor, the transmission, and many other parts.  But, hey, it's a '60's Ferrari right?  It still has to be worth at least 50K since nicely done cars or well documented originals are going for upwards of a half a million?  But as it turns out the car remains unsold-- for months now.  It's seems it's the same "money" issue.  Most guys with the resources to "do" the car don't see the wisdom of tracking down all the missing parts, working years on the restoration, and having in the car as much or more than they can buy a nice documented car for.  And with the means to purchase one, why even consider the endeavor?

Is it possible this is the fate many pre-war Cadillacs suffer that are in need of restoration?  Is this a contributing factor to the waning interest in these cars?

Add to this the fact that younger folks have all grown up with "modern" cars.  A/C, power steering, power windows, etc. are all normal comfort options that most likely came standard on every car that they have owned including the first car they ever owned.  Is it that the pre-war cars are just too unenjoyable for them whereas the 50's and 60's cars are more comfortable for them, more like what they are used to?





The Tassie Devil(le)

Quote from: Jay Friedman on April 26, 2017, 03:58:59 AM
Bruce, I think it depends on the make of the car.  The parts for pre-war Fords are plentiful and I imagine they always will be.  I owned a '32 Ford until 2012 and there were no parts that weren't available. 
G'day Jay,

I was referring to Cadillacs and LaSalles.   There will always be a supply of parts for the "A Model, and V8 Fords as there will always be Hot Rodders.   They are even making complete Fibreglass bodies for these, as well as steel reproductions, to fill the demand for these.

Bruce. >:D
'72 Eldorado Convertible (LHD)
'70 Ranchero Squire (RHD)
'74 Chris Craft Gull Wing (SH)
'02 VX Series II Holden Commodore SS Sedan
(Past President Modified Chapter)

Past Cars of significance - to me
1935 Ford 3 Window Coupe
1936 Ford 5 Window Coupe
1937 Chevrolet Sports Coupe
1955 Chevrolet Convertible
1959 Ford Fairlane Ranch Wagon
1960 Cadillac CDV
1972 Cadillac Eldorado Coupe

Eric DeVirgilis CLC# 8621

#10
The record price ever paid for a Cadillac or LaSalle occurred within the last several years and the car was a prewar V16 model.

In response to the OP, the answer can be "yes", "no", "maybe" but the only true answer is "it depends".

It's never good to generalize...generally.  ;)
A Cadillac Motorcar is a Possession for which there is no Acceptable Substitute

Dan LeBlanc

I've owned a few 61/62 Cadillacs since 2004. My first one had a period correct under dash a/c unit that threw ice cubes at you as you drove. Made driving on hot days pleasant. My last 61 Fleetwood was not equipped as such. Made the driving experience much less enjoyable such that on a hot day, I just drove my regular car.

Having just bought my first 1970s Cadillac, comfort and convenience seem light years ahead of the 61. Plus working ac makes it more enjoyable overall as well. Seats are night and day compared to the 61. The tilt and telescopic steering allows me to find a comfortable position and leave it for hours on end whereas I was always moving the seat in the 61 to get comfortable.

I've driven a Lasalle and it was fun but don't really see how something like that would suit my purpose. I have a 53 Fleetwood that I have to get to work on but I'm now questioning it in favour of perhaps finding another 1970s Cadillac. The Fleetwood, if I decide to do something with it, will have an A6 compressor runnung on 1962 brackets under the hood and a Vintage Air unit in the trunk though. I want the driving experience to be pleasant not hot and sticky.

Oh yeah, and I'm pushing 40. So maybe that has something to do with it. Like previously mentioned, comfort amenities are everything.
Dan LeBlanc
1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car

WTL

I think everybody has covered the reasons well; Price to buy, price to restore, ease and comfort of driving in modern traffic, and as Cadillac hobbyists age, the prewar cars become relics from a time before any of us remember.  The emotional attachment for many goes back to their youth...I have a thing for 2nd gen Sevilles too...which is an acquired taste others dont share. 


But I will say this, as a 34 year old - I would love to have a pre-war Cadillac.  The grill on the 1940, or the total voluptuousness of the 30s cars, or the nearly victorian novelty of cars further back - man, I would love to have one. But it is nearly inconceivable.   I can't see being able to afford one, or really do one justice - so, I guess for those cars its either the Jay Leno type enthusiast with a ton of garageroom and unlimited resources and several cars to keep him happy, or - its the museum. 

z3skybolt

Thanks to all of you for well thought out and reasonable responses.  From what I have read here, the answer to my question is YES.  That is O.K with me. I did not buy the LaSalle as an investment.  Rather as something that I can drive and take to a few local car shows with a feeling of pride.  I intend to drive/own it for the remainder of my life. None the less....I had assumed it would hold it's value.  Doesn't seem to be the case.

My car is beautifully restored and missing nothing. I have all the receipts for the restoration process, which was finished in 2000 and  then driven 4,200 miles.  It has been kept in a dry/heated/air conditioned garage ever since and shows almost no aging. Despite the person who restored the vehicle doing all the work himself....the value of his receipts add up to more than I paid for the car. So obviously in 2016 one could not turn a profit on a restored LaSalle such as mine....even one completed 16 years prior.

Were it not for the engine issues I would think that I received fair value for my money.  After all is said and done....everything in the engine except for the crank and 6 of 8  rods will be new.  Final cost for the removal, overhaul and installation will add about 40% to what I paid for the car.   Still I will be happy should that be the last of major issues for a few thousand miles.  And yes I know that the 346 engine was not original with my car. Didn't know that when I bought it but is fine with me.  I'll enjoy the extra 5 h.p.

I got interested in a LaSalle last spring, when a wealthy individual leased space in my hangar to store his 1939 LaSalle 4 door sedan.  It was a survivor with 34,000 original miles which had been stored since 1960.  He had the car restored to factory new and told me that he had spent well north of $100,000.00 in the process.  At the time I had no idea of the value of his car.  Having learned a bit over the past year...it seems that he "might" get $40,000.00 for his perfect 39.  But he doesn't have to worry about the money and has no intention of selling any way.  Seems his experience and mine, however opposite, exemplify the current range of experience for most pre-war car owners.

In the final analysis my major disappointment is the waning of interest and availability of replacement parts as time goes by.  Hopefully I will wear out before the LaSalle does.  Sorry I missed the boat a few years ago but the timing just wasn't right for me.


I'd like to post pictures but cannot get it to work. Oh well....you guys have seen lots of pretty old cars. Thanks again!

Bob
1940 LaSalle 5227 Coupe(purchased May 2016)
1985 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series. Bought New.

gary griffin


Bob,

    First the 346 has 25 or 30 more Horsepower than the 322 Lasalle. Only difference is 1/4 inch greater bore in the 346.  25 or 30 horsepower depends on Carburetor.  One of the unmentioned differences is growing population. I was born in 1940 and am 6'-2" but average height has increased greatly in the last century.  I purchased a 1950 Ford hot rod truck a couple of years ago and flew from  Seattle to Montana to drive it home. Barely enough leg room for me. My 1940 LaSalle also has short leg room. My 1942 6719 has enough but none to spare. If it had the jump seats or the divider window it would be very difficult for me to drive.  I am slightly taller than average for my generation but each generation we are growing taller. 
Gary Griffin

1940 LaSalle 5029 4 door convertible sedan
1942 Cadillac 6719 restoration almost complete?
1957 Cadillac 60-special (Needs a little TLC)
2013 Cadillac XTS daily driver

z3skybolt

Thanks Gary,

The 322 engine for 1940 LaSalle was rated at 130 hp. The 346 in my car is from a 1940 Cadillac..60 series. The book says 135 hp. It has a Carter Carb.  The engine was very strong with great acceleration before I had it removed. But hey, who knows what mine will produce when it comes back from the overhaul.  I't take all I can get!

I was born in 1947 and am 5' 7" tall.  So the old pre-war cars fit me perfectly.  Haa haa.   Thank you for you comments. Enjoy the passion.

Bob
1940 LaSalle 5227 Coupe(purchased May 2016)
1985 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series. Bought New.

Steve Passmore

Gary was probably thinking about the 346 having 150 BHP? but they didn't achieve this until 1941.
Steve

Present
1937 60 convertible coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe
1941 62 coupe

Previous
1936 70 Sport coupe
1937 85 series V12 sedan
1938 60 coupe
1938 50 coupe
1939 60S
1940 62 coupe
1941 62 convertible coupe x2
1941 61 coupe
1941 61 sedan x2
1941 62 sedan x2
1947 62 sedan
1959 62 coupe

bcroe

I think that's right, hardly anyone is around from when the pre war cars were
common; nobody loves them.  The post war cars soon became much more
suitable as practical road cars, than the others could ever be.  I have a list
of things my car needs, and all the requirements weren't met until the HEI
was used in 74.  The BOP engine/trans pattern did a lot toward letting a
limited number of parts be produced in volume to supply lots of cars.  We
are going away from that, which is one reason the newest cars will be more
difficult to maintain.  New cars are not designed for easy repairs.  When all
the 2010s are dead, the 76s will still be running. 

64\/54Cadillacking

As a millennial, I love the pre-war Cadillacs for their styling, but would I ever own one? No.

They aren't practical to drive every day, more stuff to go wrong, parts are scarce, they don't have the power to keep up with traffic, ancient engines, and mechanicals, and I am sure they don't handle too well either.

Don't get me wrong, I believe a lot of the pre-war stuff is awesome, but as a young person, I'd rather own a cooler more modern post-war Cadillac's. Mainly 50's and 60's just because during this time, Cadillac's seemed to look more youthful and flashy vs the pre-war stuff.

Plus prices for pre war Cads in nice shape are very very expensive.
1964 Sedan Deville (Own)
1987 Brougham D’Elegance (Sold)
1954 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special
1994 Fleetwood Bro (Sold)
1972 Sedan Deville (Sold)
1968 Coupe Deville (Sold)
1978 Lincoln Continental (Own)
1979 Lincoln Mark V Cartier (Own)

Scot Minesinger

Bruce and 64CaddieLacky are right.  I do know an older gentlemen with two pre war cars and they are driven on and off the trailer only because they cannot be driven with modern traffic.  Lots of work for low benefit.

That old saying young-time, energy and no money, middle age-energy, money and no time, old-money, time, but no energy fits me so far, I have no time.  While I could afford a prewar car, there is no time to enjoy it.  The post war cars you can drive places that you have to go anyway and hence you kill two birds with stone. 

On Easter Sunday I drove 200 miles round trip to pick up my daughter from college in my 1970 Cadillac DVC with top down entire trip on a beautiful 85'F weather - pure joy!  This is a drive on semi-highway with curves and lights and speeds limits of 60 mph (people driving 70 mph) that really only a disc brake radial tire equipped car should drive.  If you did not keep up with traffic it would be a hazard for other cars.  This is just not a trip you could drive in a pre war car with a degree of safety unless it was heavily modified.

Bruce makes a really good point that these modern cars with so much plastic, computers, and expensive to repair, I agree difficult to imagine a 2010 car could be restored without spending a fortune, and why would you want to?

The prewar cars are art, and the post war cars are art that takes you places.
Fairfax Station, VA  22039 (Washington DC Sub)
1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1970 four door Convertible w/Cadillac Warranty