LaSalle in The Congo

Started by CongoLasalle, October 07, 2021, 02:29:18 PM

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CongoLasalle

Hello all, newbie here.

I have a question regarding the year of a car that is in currently in the Congo, in the port city of Boma.

According to local lore, this is the first car that was brought in the Congo but I have strong doubts about that.

I think this could be a 303 Model, probably from the late 1920's, but I'd like to ask the specialists on this forum what they think.

There is what looks like a Vin number, surrounded by stars, as you can see in the last picture.

Let me know what you all think and what you were able to find out about this car from your archives.

Thanks in advance

Pete

55 CDV Fan 82


Neat find!  I doubt its the first car as there as I'm sure during the 1910s (like WW1) there had to have been a vehicle here or there.
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1955 Cadillac Coupe Deville "Evelyn"
1966 Oldsmobile Toronado Deluxe
1967 Buick Wildcat Convertible "Joyce"

Past Cars

1937 LaSalle Coupe
1940 Chevrolet Coupe
1941 Ford 11Y truck
1954 Buick Special 48D
1955 Packard Clipper Super Panama
1957 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe
1962 VW Bug
1962 Dodge 880
1966 Mercury Montclair
1968 Chevy Chevelle SS
1968 Plymouth Barracuda
1977 Lincoln

CongoLasalle

Indeed, that's my point.  :)
Any idea how to find out for sure when this car was built, through the number, or judging by certain features?
Thanks
Pete

cadlove

Pete

What an incredible find? Have you got the CLC book LaSalle, Cadillac's Companion Car by Ron Van Gelderen & Matt Larson?

I have a copy and will look to see what it tells us about this period LaSalle?

The key thing would be to contact the GM Archives and see if they have any paperwork based upon that chassis/vin number? JP

CongoLasalle

Hello JP.
No, I do not have that book.
I was intrigued by the story behind that car (and another at the same location) as I'm pretty sure there were cars way before this one was built and brought over.
There were quite a few US vehicles that were brought over, directly from the US, or via Belgian dealers of US cars, mostly light trucks, though, in the beginning, and then more luxurious cars in the 20's and 30's for Belgians working in the Belgian Congo. US cars were thought to be sturdier than European models back then for Congolese dirt roads.
The actual story behind this one is that it was brought over by a Belgian official called Fischer, but said Fischer died in 1894, so there's no way this here LaSalle can be the first vehicle to have been brought over to Congo. I'm trying to prove that with facts. Any information you may have is likely to help.
Cheers
Pete

Tom Boehm

#5
Hello Pete, Interesting post from a faraway place. I do not think the number is the vin number. It does not match the vin numbers for Lasalles of that era. Probably a part number.

I compared your pictures to the pictures in the  book "Lasalle: Cadillac's Companion Car".                                                                                     I think it is a 1930 Lasalle series 340 five passenger coupe. This is based on the hubcaps, the dashboard, and the number of louvers in the hood. Because of the number of louvers in the hood it is not a 1927. It is certainly one of these years: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931.

Chris Cummings

Hi Pete,

Fascinating car!

I believe that you'll find the engine number (what passed for a VIN in those days) stamped on the crankcase near the middle of the right-hand side of the engine.  You can refer to the chart in the CLC Directory, once you have the number, and determine what year the car is.

Best regards,

Chris Cummings

Chris Cummings

P.S. I'm betting it's a 1930 LaSalle.

Chris

cadlove

Chris I agree with you mostly?

The number in the pictures though surely is the engine number? The stars before and after tell us this?

Pete - we need the hood open to see if there's a Cadillac and/or a Fisher ID plate on the firewall? JP

CongoLasalle

That's the only number the person who took the picture was able to find. There is another picture with some sort of serial number, but i think it's from the other car that's on-site, not sure at all it's from the LaSalle.

There should be a serial number on the body somewhere, no? It can't just be on the engine, can it?

cadlove

That's NOT the LaSalle, it has a straight, in-line engine. LaSalles had a Cadillac or Oldsmobile (later I think) engine?

We're chasing fog here. Waste of time. JP

CongoLasalle

That was the only other picture I had, and I said it was probably not from the LaSalle, but you never know.
I asked the photographer to get another better look at a serial number, but the one between stars was the only one he could see outright.

So far, there seems to be pretty good evidence that this is a 340 from between 1929 and 1931. I'll stick to that. I've checked out other pics of that particular car and it seems to be a match. I wold have liked to get a precise timeframe, but it's not to be, I guess.

Thanks to all for their help.

Pete

Chris Cummings

That 189299 number is stamped onto a piece of the frame. 

In the late 20s and early 30s, the vehicle was identified by the engine number.  The engine number had one star next to it.  The engine number appears on the car only on the engine.  That's just the way Cadillac did it.  In the late thirties, it would also appear on the frame, but that was later.

Different numbers were stamped onto the frame, the transmission, the steering gear, the front and rear axles, and the generator.  To know for certain what year the car is, you need the number that's stamped on the right-hand side of the crankcase, on a boss next to the where the coolant pipe feeds the right-hand cylinder block.

The fact that the hood side panel is covered with thin vertical louvres says that this is a 1930 car.  The rest of the visible structure is consistent with that. 

cadlove

Sorry Chris that's not the case.

These cars had chassis numbers, but sadly not beginning with '1' according to the records.

I have asked for the hood opening and new pictures to try and locate the Cadillac (then) and Fisher ID plate, nothing was forthcoming but pictures of another car? Please????

We don't know where the 189299 number is stamped? The pictures it appears were taken by someone else????

I can't even establish why this guy wants the information? I have asked?

I go out at £3000 a day, that's £375 an hour, $510 to you guys. I might send an invoice to this guy? JP

CongoLasalle

#14
Hello all, JP,
Am I the guy you want to send an invoice to?
Am I sensing hostility here for asking Cadillac/LaSalle pundits for information about a wreck in a faraway place?
You can't establish why I want this information? Well, I've told you why I'm looking for that information, I'm trying to establish the exact year it was built, as it's presented locally as the first car to ever have been brought into the Congo, which it's obviously not. I'm just trying to prove that with facts, as stated previously.

The car is in the port city of Boma, Congo and I'm not, I'm in Belgium. I saw the car a few months back and I will probably be going back there in a few months for work. The pictures I posted here are not mine, I have no way of taking the pictures you asked for as I'm currently 6000 miles away from that car. I'm not the person taking the pictures, as was made clear in previous postings. I've already asked him to take pictures of the area you're describing next time he's there, but he doesn't know much about cars, so when he was there, he looked for numbers and all he could find was in the pictures I posted here.

There is another car at the site (see picture) but it's too far gone and I have no other picture to determine what it could be, like a hubcap or something. The only one I have is of some sort of a serial number stamped on what appears to be the dash panel of that other car. If anyone recognises a feature on that car or recognises a Cadillac or a LaSalle, or anything else, for that matter, don't hesitate to reply.

and JP, sorry if you think you're chasing fog here and wasting your time on this and I understand that in this information age, we're all used to getting the information we want instantly, but this is not one of those cases.
On my end, I think I got most of the information I was looking for about that LaSalle and I thanked everyone involved in giving me that information.

Cheers

Pete

CongoLasalle

#15
Quote from: Chris Cummings on October 09, 2021, 02:50:47 PM
That 189299 number is stamped onto a piece of the frame. 

In the late 20s and early 30s, the vehicle was identified by the engine number.  The engine number had one star next to it.  The engine number appears on the car only on the engine.  That's just the way Cadillac did it.  In the late thirties, it would also appear on the frame, but that was later.

Different numbers were stamped onto the frame, the transmission, the steering gear, the front and rear axles, and the generator.  To know for certain what year the car is, you need the number that's stamped on the right-hand side of the crankcase, on a boss next to the where the coolant pipe feeds the right-hand cylinder block.

The fact that the hood side panel is covered with thin vertical louvres says that this is a 1930 car.  The rest of the visible structure is consistent with that.

Thanks for your insight, Chris.
You mean that on the same car, you could have 4-5 different numbers stamped on various body or engine parts?
The picture with the 189299 IS stamped in between 2 stars, though. Do you any idea at all why there could be 2 stars and not 1 as you describe?
I realise it's like doing a jjigsaw puzzle with pieces missing, but is there a way to determine where this number is stamped, judging by what you can see around it? The guy who took the picture said it was in the engine bay, that's all I have.
Anyhoo, I'm happy enough with the information I've gleaned here so far, it's been very interesting.
Cheers
Pete     

CongoLasalle

Quote from: Chris Cummings on October 08, 2021, 07:14:53 PM
P.S. I'm betting it's a 1930 LaSalle.

Chris

Ding ding ding, we have a winner, folks! :-)
Cheers
Pete

CongoLasalle

Quote from: Tom Boehm on October 08, 2021, 04:20:35 PM
Hello Pete, Interesting post from a faraway place. I do not think the number is the vin number. It does not match the vin numbers for Lasalles of that era. Probably a part number.

I compared your pictures to the pictures in the  book "Lasalle: Cadillac's Companion Car".                                                                                     I think it is a 1930 Lasalle series 340 five passenger coupe. This is based on the hubcaps, the dashboard, and the number of louvers in the hood. Because of the number of louvers in the hood it is not a 1927. It is certainly one of these years: 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931.

Hi Tom, yes, it's an interesting story. Over the years, I've seen very old 20's, 30's and 40's wrecks, on the side of bush roads in Congo, taken over by the elements and the trees, abandoned after a crash (the red laterite roads are veeeeeery slippery in the rain). There's usually very little left, sometimes just the chassis and (some of) the wheels, sometimes, a piece of the body, but rarely anything else. In those years, the cars were predominantly American and to this day, you can still see 40's and 50's Army trucks; Dodge and whatnot, still going strong and filled to the brim with all sorts of cargo. Rugged and uncomfortable, but apparently pretty much unbreakable.

Cheers
Pete

TomB

The story behind the owner of the cars is probably more interesting then the cars details themselves as they date back to  a very dark page of Belgian colonial history. Despots and their luxury vehicles over the years... We are driving luxury brands that were also favoured by people with dubious walks of life..

Chris Cummings

Hi Pete,

Yes, the way the cars were numbered, the engine number was the ID number for the car.  It was used for licensing and registration, and it's how Cadillac identified a particular car.

You can order a copy of the build sheet for one of these cars using the engine number.  You can't do that with the chassis number or any of the other numbers.

Various mid-year changes were made to the components of these cars from time to time, and the numbers on the frame/chassis, axles, steering unit, transmission, generator, etc. permitted the factory to know, when a customer corresponded with the factory about a problem, whether or not a particular change had been made. 

As the decade of the 1930s unfolded, the number of individual component numbers decreased.

I hope that's helpful.

Chris