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Projects 1939 LaSalle 2dr Opera Coupe Build

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Jammin', Dec 6, 2015.

  1. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    I hesitate to even start this thread, but perhaps it will give me incentive to see this project through. I have been given a 1939 LaSalle 2dr Opera Coupe that sat in a warehouse in Detroit since 1970. It shows about 80,000 miles on the odometer. My profile picture shows it as found. It appears to have been repainted at some point in the original color.

    My intention is to make it into a mild period custom with the original engine hopped up with period accessories, straight pipes, fender skirts and a tail dragger stance, and everything else completely stock (probably upgraded brakes).

    I picked this car up in Detroit almost 2 years ago. Since then I have been through some ups and downs with the car. I just completed a 2400 mile road trip and I now have the car back in my posession in pieces. I am now at the point where I am only $60,000 away from having a $30,000 car, as they say, but I am afraid I am quite enamored of this car and I would very much like to finish it.

    This is the start of my story, which I will add to and update as I have the time.
     
  2. Like some others, I'd LOVE to have one of those big GM coupes and a LaSalle would be my choice.....well, maybe a 39-40 caddy coupe.
    When I was a little kid, my dad had a green 39 LaSalle. I loved listening to the sound of that V/8 engine.
    If you do most of the work yourself, I doubt you'd have 60 grand in it unless you're going for an over the top Boyd Coddington style build.
    Some years ago, I had a 47 series 62 caddy and my buddy, Billy had a maroon 40 LaSalle. We lived in the same apartment house and we had a common friend who had the most gorgeous black 48 Buick special fastback. Man, if I had an opportunity to build that car, I'd go for it.
     
  3. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
    Member
    from BC

    I remember years ago, like eighties, a buddy of mine had a '39 Buick coupe. It was mile-deep black lacquer with an oxblood interior, had a caddy flathead, with a full load of Edmunds stuff on the motor, it had a nice rake with polished tork-thrusts, and it was BEAUTIFUL.This was long before the HAMB, or "traditional" hot rods, or before there was this line between customs and hot rods that was never supposed to crossed.
    I'd build a Lasalle coupe in a heartbeat, but skirts and a tail dragger stance wouldn't even enter my mind...But then, I am a notorious heretic, and don't give a rats-ass for neo-traditional political correctness.;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
    czuch likes this.
  4. hacknwhack
    Joined: Jan 25, 2006
    Posts: 481

    hacknwhack
    Member
    from mass

    :cool:
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  5. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

     
  6. Cool car, I'd love to see more pics.
     
  7. ^^^^Me to,large ones.
     
  8. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 23,437

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    a (good) picture is worth a thousand words
     
  9. Gary Addcox
    Joined: Aug 28, 2009
    Posts: 2,192

    Gary Addcox
    Member

    Hey, Texas Webb, I recall spotting a '39 Buick coupe, grey and Pepsi blue I believe, in Fentress, Texas. It is north of Lockhart, east of San Marcos, and that is all I can remember. Just thought I'd tell you in case you might want to try to find it. Fentress is s very small community so the car might be found. It was in a single-car garage and I believe the house might be a small two-story. I would love to have one of those old classics, but two rides are company, and three would be a crowd. Good luck if you go searching.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
  10. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    LaSalle as found.jpg
    This is the first picture I saw of the car as it sat in a warehouse in Detroit for 44 years. There were a number of old cars in the warehouse that belonged to my girlfriend's now deceased father. Interestingly enough, it was the old Cadillac Connor Street stamping plant that my girlfriend's father bought to house his machine tool business. The plant was now being sold and the cars had to go. A couple of years prior I had told my girlfriend's mother that I'd be interested in the LaSalle. When the time came to move it, she offered it to me. I asked if it was 2 doors or 4 doors and she said it was a "4 door opera coupe". It can either be a 4 door or an opera coupe, but not both, so I figured it was a 4 door - until I got this picture. Then I got pretty excited.
     
    mgtstumpy, hacknwhack, slv63 and 11 others like this.
  11. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    LaSalle loaded.jpg My girlfriend and I set out for Detroit from the Washington, D.C. area to pick up the car in February of 2014 and took it to a shop in Missouri that I had been following on Facebook. I was impressed with the prodigious amount of work the owner put out and expected to save quite a bit over what a shop would charge around D.C.
     
    mgtstumpy, volvobrynk, Stogy and 2 others like this.
  12. Pretty nice,straight coupe.What's the plan?I'm sure they would be happy to see it on the road.
     
  13. Thanks,Gary I'm in the same boat.2 old ones needing work and an AV8 work in slooow progress.
     
  14. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 475

    CadMad
    Member

    You will discover that the more you look at it the more you will love it. Be sympathetic to the fact that it survived so long untouched.
    I like your traditional approach. A mild chop suits these beautifully. There were some great photoshops done on here of a Lasalle coupe a couple of years back.
    I look forward to seeing her come back to life.
     
  15. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    I looked very carefully at those photoshop chops. There was no doubt in my mind that the lower it got, the better it looked. The car was braced and the chop was laid out and the first cuts made when I called it off. The cuts were welded back up. In the end, I'll take the stock bubble top. LaSalle chop.jpg
     
    mgtstumpy, flyin-t and bali-rod like this.
  16. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532

    33sporttruck
    Member

    Gorgeous and Amazing Car !!! Need more pictures as You move forward. 40+ years ago a good friend owned 2 LaSalles 1) 38 Opera Coupe with 55 Olds running gear and 2) Original 40 4-dr Sedan. I will never forget how "Cool" those cars were when compared to my econo-box 39 Chevy 2-dr Sedan................ Jeff
     
  17. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    What a great start to a great car. LaSalle used the Cadillac V8 and Cad.LaSalle trans. in a lighter car and your coupe is about the lightest model they made. So, it was one of the hottest performing cars of its time. And, I think 39 was the last year for the floor shift.

    In other words a banker's hot rod. Should have no trouble keeping up with traffic in stock form.

    I know of one guy who bought a new LaSalle sedan in 39 and hopped it up. All he did was install dual exhausts, mill the heads, shim the valve springs, and install an extra set of shocks on all 4 wheels. He told me it was timed electronically, 2 ways, at an average 107MPH.
     
  18. J.B.
    Joined: Jan 7, 2005
    Posts: 1,246

    J.B.
    Member
    from Sweden

    Very nice. Why did you not proceed with the chop?
     
    xpletiv likes this.
  19. Pete
    Joined: Mar 8, 2001
    Posts: 4,463

    Pete
    Member


    FINALLY!!! A vintage HAMB style build!!!
     
  20. Pete
    Joined: Mar 8, 2001
    Posts: 4,463

    Pete
    Member

    Shoot.... I take that back!!!!!

    Should have read the whole thread
     
    tobyflh likes this.
  21. CadMad
    Joined: Oct 20, 2012
    Posts: 475

    CadMad
    Member

    Perhaps for the moment it is best that you stalled the chop. Google the Don Lee dealership chopped40 Laslle done when new. It used a sixty special back window frame. The original rear window looks too large imo when chopped.
    I don't have access to my computer rightnow and strugglingto post pics off this damn ph.
     
  22. TinWolf
    Joined: Sep 12, 2006
    Posts: 177

    TinWolf
    Member
    from Sweden

    Attached Files:

  23. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    I can't argue with the look of a chopped top. I struggled with the decision. Ultimately I decided to stick with the stock roof line. It can always be chopped the next time around.
     
  24. Jessie J.
    Joined: Oct 28, 2004
    Posts: 331

    Jessie J.
    Member

    My opinion. It ain't no damn Ford. So you don't need to chop it up first to make something out of leftovers.
    And with this its not like you are needing anything dramatic to make it stand out, like those with old hat cookie cutter models need to resort to.
    KISS and you can have a $60,000 car for $30,000 _or much less if you can handle a bit of the work yourself.
    Got yourself something that is already special, it will pay off in the long run to keep it that way.
     
  25. SycoSteve
    Joined: Feb 12, 2011
    Posts: 294

    SycoSteve
    Member

    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1450243129.666870.jpg
    Looks a lot like mine
     
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  26. SycoSteve
    Joined: Feb 12, 2011
    Posts: 294

    SycoSteve
    Member

    ImageUploadedByH.A.M.B.1450243204.641575.jpg
    Definitely plan on chopping it
     
    mgtstumpy likes this.
  27. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    Back to the timeline, we delivered the car to a shop in Missouri to do the work. Work starting progressing quickly. Even though the car looked pretty good at first, it turned out to have quite a bit of rust. LaSalle Before.jpg
     
    mgtstumpy and Surfcityrocker like this.
  28. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

  29. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    Some of the repairs. LaSalle More Rust 1.jpg LaSalle more rust repair.jpg LaSalle Holes 5.jpg LaSalle Holes 6.jpg LaSalle Holes 8.jpg LaSalle fender repair.jpg
     
    mgtstumpy likes this.
  30. Jammin'
    Joined: Feb 10, 2014
    Posts: 40

    Jammin'
    Member

    The whole rear roll pan was missing and had to be fabricated. Lasalle Rear Pan 1.jpg Lasalle Rear Pan 2.jpg LaSalle Rear Pan 3.jpg LaSalle New Rear Pan.jpg
     

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