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Projects 1934 LaSalle old school convertible coupe build thread

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by F&J, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    I never ever imagined I'd ever have something to be able to be on the Traditional Custom let me start with some pics.

    I have worked on/off for 4 years at a moderate sized estate of a long, long time antique and classic collector and also a flipper. I was there only to assemble some random cars, or get them to run, to have them ready for auctions or for outright sales on the cheaper ones.

    The first "Big $ Car" I brought home to rework was this 1934 LaSalle conv. Pics taken on trailer the day we brought it here, for getting it to run, and get it better looking for an upcoming big-end car auction.
    The other pics on the ground are during fix-up, car parked near the garden hose to wash off the barn dirt :)
    DSCN0089.JPG DSCN0090.JPG

    ^^ Note this last pic, it shows what I don't really like...the headlights are toooo high, and the hood also seems way too high...

    So, tonight during a rest break, I ran a google image search for "1935 LaSalle convertible", not 34 like the maroon one above. And I spotted this late 40s Customized 1935 LaSalle convertible!
    Joe-brienza-1935-lasalle4.jpg Joe-brienza-1935-lasalle21.jpg

    From just the first picture alone, I knew it was sectioned....but that changed when I looked closer at the pic below:

    What he did was not a section, but he brought the front parts of the fenders upwards, and did section the grille. I have no idea how he did this, or even if that is what was done? I am not up on this stuff at all, so I will be begging for ideas on getting the look I am wanting. P/S, there will be a vintage 1940s Olds Straight Eight in this car, not a modern chassis build at all!

    So, at this point, I know I like the appearance of a lower hoodline, but I really don't like this side view of a car that looks bent upwards at the nose.

    I am pretty tired tonight to be able to add more info, but I know I will need some good advice on how to get a lower hoodline, and not have it look bent. Right this tired moment, I think I will raise the front up that amount, but not angled.... I would eliminate the gap above the running board and bring the rear part of front fender up to fill that gap...and I'd like to not use runningboards

    I will add pics/text of the barn find day, the day I cut off the 4 door body at the windshield, the day I mocked up the rough rear convertible body panels, etc etc
  2. What if you left the fenders where they are, channeled the body. Then section the hood sides and grill? Just a thought.
    46international likes this.
  3. Brizo
    Joined: Jan 15, 2011
    Posts: 191

    from Indy

    Are you kidding, that car looks great ! It would be a shame to survive this long in such good condition only to be modified. It ought to be cleaned, rubbed out, touched up, detailed, repaired and driven just the way it is!! Especially if you keep the straight 8. If the hood looks to high from the inside, maybe the drivers seat is collapsed?
    Bubba1955, Cosmo50, quick85 and 15 others like this.
  4. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Geart minds think alike... lol, I was just thinking exactly what you just said. It may just be what is needed ...Thanks!

    Hold on there fella, the maroon car is NOT mine. It went for a lot of money 3-4 years ago, and I have almost zero funds.

    But, I do also have a stock 1934 LaS convertible going together at this time, and it will stay bone stock right down to it's original pale yellow color it once had when new.

    Guys, here is my first mock up Sunday. I put the nose together, and lowered the headlights 1-3/4".
    100_0220.JPG 100_0221.JPG 100_0219.JPG

    Here is a pic from 4-5 weeks ago with chalk marks showing the roof will be trimmed real close to top of windshield...and, the sides of the windshield post will be slimmed to make it seem more like a convertible post(s).
    DSCN1055.JPG DSCN1056.JPG

  5. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 28,537


    Great to have you back Frank! The one thing that really bugs me about the red custom is the upside down fender chevrons, that is one detail you can keep stock. Bob
  6. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Late Sunday, I remembered I had a pair of unidentified convertible top irons. They seem promising, but the rear body is too far forward about 4" or so, and the roof is not trimmed back yet:

    dash gauges and banjo wheel: I do have the glovebox door inside somewhere.
  7. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    More pics for guys like me who cannot read... lol

  8. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    F&J likes this.
  9. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Yes, I am going with your suggestion on channel as well as "section grille and hood sides".

    But I still need some guidance in "how much".

    Here are two of the pics again with White marks I added:
    channel view.jpg
    ^^^ Look at how easy the firewall or front of cowl will be for a simple channel. Note that the side of cowl can slip down past the frame without any problem at all. Compare that to a Model A cowl, that has to be spread to slip past the frame rails.

    One more thing I need to mention. The 34 LaSalles were Fleetwood bodies, and the 35s were Fisher bodies. The Fisher cowl is all-steel, no wood at all in that A Pillar, so cutting rewelding after I channel that 35 cowl will be a snap, compared to a 34 wood framed cowl.

    But I did not mention yet, that the convertible body I found in the barn all in pieces, is really a 1934 convertible(Fleetwood body). I DO have the 34 cowl, but I cannot use it as those 34s use a fancy, heavy cast brass windshield frame/posts, which are missing. I also do not have enough 34 parts or even a 34 chassis to make a 34 Custom, so that is why I am building it with a 34 rear body, on a 35 chassis and 35 nose.

    channel view side.jpg
    ^^^^ Here is that gap I want to eliminate. I also do not have running boards for this car, and really don't want them. I think it will look cool without boards like the "1935 build !" done by Frank Kurtis, of a 34 LaSalle boat-tail roadster" Below: Car was built in 35 from a wrecked 34 LaSalle coupe!
    ^^^ Kurtis made some steps to replace the running boards, but I prefer no steps.

    I will build simple skirts from the old 34 sedan front door skin curved metal. The Kurtis car uses stock/bizarre 34 LaSalle Factory Optional skirts that had a hubcap mounted on the outside!

    So the help I need now, is how much should I channel? I know I want it "mild", but I still want the hood to look better by dropping it down in a level fashion..

    Any ideas trashed around by you all will help me figure the cuts better.

    Thanks, Frank
  10. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Rain today but I did get a few dry minutes to measure things to figure out the amount of channeling:

    I measured the side of car near the place where running boards would be. I need a minimum of 2" channel to hide the frame rails as I will not be using running boards.

    next I got out a 34-35 LaSalle grille which is a lot different than the 36 grille on this car now. The 36 is more rounded across the face, the 34/35 is a slight V but has flat sides on either side of dead center.

    But the grille horizontal bars are much different spacing. The 36 is tighter at 3-1/8" on centers, and the 34/35 is 4-5/8" on centers. Look at the red car grille and you see he has an uneven spacing of grille bars at halfway up.
    ^^^ Looking at the above pic, and counting spaces between grille bars, I think he took one complete 4-5/8 piece out, but also about half of another. So, unless I messed up, that means his grille is sectioned a bit over 7" total...which in just my opinion, makes that grille look "too" short?

    . 100_0231.JPG
    So, if I use the 36 grille and take out only one section by itself, that is a 3-1/8" channel for the grille as well as the entire body. Does that sound as good to you as it certainly does to me? That would give me my "mild channel", hide the frame, and that amount of cut on the hood side panels will still look fine.

    any input? Thanks
  11. Okie Pete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2008
    Posts: 3,603

    Okie Pete

    You have a game plan ,a pile of parts and pieces . Go for it . Your not cutting up a restored or persevered rare car. You should have titled your thread I'm building a Kustom ragtop LaSalle out of parts cars . Maybe a few more folks would be onboard .
    Runnin shine and biggeorge like this.
  12. Pete
    Joined: Mar 8, 2001
    Posts: 4,639

    Member are an animal! Can't wait to see this car take shape.
    uncle buck and tb33anda3rd like this.
  13. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 17,452


    I'd get the body all solid up on the original height frame first, before channeling anything. Then do the section on the grille and work backwards that same measurement with your channel. Having a solid body to channel will be TONS easier than trying to square up a floppy mess of loose panels. Use lots of diagonal cross bracing inside to keep it square.
  14. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Hey Pete, I learned the whole Animal thing from just standing next to YOU at a show... LOL
    That can't happen. The body sections are just ;loose panels, so it would be beyond pointless to try to build it at stock height. Why? because this is a 35 Frame and 34 rear body, both frames differ at mid point of rear axle and beyond to the tail.

    Compare the rear view of both cars and the 34 has a trunklid below the rumble lid, but not so on the 35.

    Don't fret, I'm pretty good at working with scrap. Note there is no smiley face after the word scrap.

    I just stripped out the seat, floors, wood sills mostly removed, etc...... to get pics of where the channel will be. Give me an hour or so.
    31Truckster and Hnstray like this.
  15. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    here are the chassis pics from an hour ago. Note there are THREE body mount bolts at just this short remaining wood sill section on each side. Firewall face has a bracket that does two jobs; one is a body bolt, the other task is that it also holds up the bellhousing mount plate.
    Pic below shows the other two bolts through the wooden sill (which the sill is made of two 3/4" boards laminated together.

    I will not be using a sill on TOP of the rails during the channeling. That is so I do not lose footroom. So, a 3-18" channel, by scrapping that 1.5" wood sill, leaves barely over 1-1/2" floor space "loss".

    I will use exactly what Pete used in his chop/channeled 32 5W. He used 1/8" plate (.120") inside the door opening to cover the frame rails.

    Here is a pic of my other 34 LaS convertible doorway, showing the same thing as Pete's, but these are light gauge sheetmetal "skirts" or "covers" to hide the frame. So, in reality, these LaSalles are already deeply channeled from new.
    ^^^^^ that blue box is just showing where those covers once were.....welded to the A and B pillars, and sitting on top of the wood sill.

    Here is the heavy duty X frame, so it surely won't flex with a open car type body. Showing also, two more body bolts in the doorway area. These are used (by shimming under them), to help with door fit when built or during re-ajustments to an older car that ended up with door sag, etc
  16. fiftyv8
    Joined: Mar 11, 2007
    Posts: 5,232

    from CO & WA

    Go for it my friend, I am just loving your ideas and look forward to seeing your progress.
    F&J likes this.
  17. That, and I'm not very fond of how the front fenders "point up" in the profile pics.
    F&J likes this.
  18. HRK-hotrods
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 922


    I like where this is headed...
    F&J likes this.
  19. Peanut 1959
    Joined: Oct 11, 2008
    Posts: 2,107

    Peanut 1959

    I was going to suggest a 2" channel!
    F&J likes this.
  20. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    The reason I cannot do just 2 inches is based on cutting the grille to end up with even spacing of the grille crossbars. 2" would hide the side frame rails under the doors though :)

    Ok, here is a HUGE reason I cannot do what Alchemy said about building the body shell up first in one piece, before the channeling it sounds scary to someone who has never tackled putting a wrong rear body to a different type of front body..

    The 35 LaSalle is 120" wheelbase, the 34 is 119". But that's nothing... :)

    The curved door gap line is different on both years!! So, that means I will need to cut a vertical slice off the front edge of the 35 Sedan door, then cut off the same on the 34 Convertible door to be able to add that 35 front edge... YIKES, they shouted. :)

    Well it gets even more involved... I need to make up the wheelbase difference in that slicing but only "maybe". As many here know, the rear wheels on 1930s cars is very often not centered very well in the rear fender openings.

    To plan the rear wheel opening correctly, the rear suspension MUST be loaded to ride height, as that load moves the rear towards the back a bit. We have an old bucket crawler here that I will use to push down on the rear frame, then use chain binders on both sides of axle tubes to hold it in the "loaded" position. THEN, I can start figuring how wide the modified doors need to be to get the rear fender lined up with the tires. That means both rear fenders =must be bolted well to each quarter panel.. Easy-peezey ... LOL
    here is a pic I forgot I took...showing the "good" 34 in it's own end bay, and the "bad" 34 rear body mocked up with vice grips..a dozen of them ..he,he

    ^^^ those pointed dagger looking things down low on that body, are very, very rare swing away luggage rack brackets that were a Factory installed option on 34-Only LaSalles. I bought these "back" from that ebay seller a month ago or so, These rack brackets WERE on THIS body when the car was new! This body was a dark camel color new, so were those brackets, but that car was later painted navy blue over that tan, and so are these brackets! They had the same ancient string/manila ID tags saying "34 LaS" in the same old handwriting as many of the other parts that were in that HUGE LaS collection out in Minnesota years ago.
  21. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    I am curious as to the grille constuction. Are the vertical bars cast in short sections, like 20 individual sections on the '36 grille?
  22. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,807


    Going by what you did with your '32.... I can hardly wait to see how this turns out! Cool plan.
  23. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,479


    I love everything about this, it's a totally historically accurate build with well researched period builds to compare to, using a period drivetrain AND making use of some rough cast-off type pieces, I am subscribed and I am looking forward to seeing more.

    However, I think if I were faced with the same task, I would approach it similar to what Alchemy said, in that I'd build the body into one piece, unchanneled and un-sectioned first, even if it was just a temporary mockup with lots of braces and such in it, then I'd section and channel it to fit the vision, as opposed to trying to do it all at once.

    I guess I'm unclear as to how you're going to approach this but I'll assume that you have the plan under control and I look forward to reading future updates.
    koolkemp and Hnstray like this.
  24. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    The 36 Grille is all cast as one piece, except for emblems. However the 34-35 Grille is also one piece from top to bottom, the crossbars are removable. I will try to find a junk one here to show it's makeup.
    In case you missed it, My 32 is no longer "mine", I gave it to my son a while back. Now the car gets better care, more diven, and my mind can concentrate on my two LaSalle convertibles. :)

    Firstly, the body won't be sectioned at all, I really like the rear 3/4 view as is, which might be harmed by any amount of a sectioning.

    I simply cannot find the words apparently, to have you all on the same page as to why I cannot build the body first. I will start right where every body build should: The cowl is the place that makes or breaks a body system. That cowl must be 100% dead level to frame rails, no exceptions, no "sorta OK", it must be perfect and must be rock solid and stable during the rest of the body make-ups.

    If the cowl is wrong, the hood will run up hill or down hill to the grille support/shell. That make hood side gap fitting impossible! Also (if cowl is off), the door fit can only go real wrong in a big hurry. This body will be all steel framework, but my stock 34 will be the original style wood framing pictured in part, Below:
  25. This has the makings of something really special.
    kidcampbell71 and cactus1 like this.
  26. NashRodMan
    Joined: Jul 8, 2004
    Posts: 1,736


    I agree with James D!! ^^^^

    I love the first picture of the 34 on the trailer and I think that car is of the best cars out there, IMHO.
    But...I really do like your plans for the one you are doing. Good luck and I will be watching this thread!!
    F&J likes this.
  27. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222


    Holy crap,... If I'm not mistaken? You are "THE" HAMB photoshop Guy? If so, late last night, I was just thinking about trying to get you to do a side view deal of the proposed 3" channel, and how it basically just moves the front fender "up" 3-1/8" , and all else stays the same on just a side view.

    Give me a few hours today to get a pic and measurement of the running board extension piece that fits under the entire back part of the front fender,. That extension as well as running board will be eliminated, but maybe the extension thing actually needs to be modded like Frank Kurtis did on that Speedster pic. He did a filler piece that was then chromed, in that pic I posted.

    I am trying to find out if the very bottoms of the rear fenders need a 3" section taken out, to make the car flow right, after the front fender gets "moved up 3-1/8" in a photoshop pic. Thanks in advance :)

    I will be quite busy today; .my good friend and LaSalle "partner", 70 year old Joe G. is coming here around 9AM to finish stripping off the last few pieces on that really rotted 34 sedan parts car, that is donating it's chassis for Joes' yellow 34 dry western desert rotfree 4 door body shown coming out of that barn. Joes 34 sedan body is next to my good 34 Conv in the back 35x25 section of my 90 foot long main building. We are, actually building THREE LaSalles here ! Joe is sending that donor chassis out for commercial sandblasting ASAP. We are trying to beat winter, in getting stuff all stored indoors here, and getting going on the cars.

    Also today, I will be trying to finish a friends partial rear clip job on a smacked 86 Mercedes big series sedan in my one main workbay. As soon as that car is gone, my 35 chassis comes in for the motor replacement, and that should make the chassis "yard drivable". Then in mid August, I need to be free to do a New Jersey guys barn find engine startup of a 37 Cord sedan! That should be the LAST customer job this year I hope...then it is LaSalle time!
    koolkemp, Hnstray and tb33anda3rd like this.
  28. Ha, i guess i used to be "that guy". But sure, I'd be happy to help you out.
    kidcampbell71, F&J and koolkemp like this.
  29. jetnow1
    Joined: Jan 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,906

    from CT
    1. A-D Truckers

    I am in awe of your vision and energy. Seeing what you and your 70 year old partner can do
    makes me believe I will get my project done yet, and it is no where this large a project.
    brad2v and F&J like this.
  30. 'Mo
    Joined: Sep 26, 2007
    Posts: 7,431


    Sounds perfect to me.
    Will you be raising the rear fenders the amount of the channel job?

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