Motoring Trailblazers - Cadillac LaSalle

Sat 25th May 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Cadillac LaSalle
The LaSalle marque was a brand of luxury automobiles which was manufactured by Cadillac from 1927. Designed by the revered Harley Earl, a man who had a huge impact on the development of motor cars in the United States throughout the last century, the LaSalle was seen as the trend-setting car of the 1920s.

Available with a full range of body styles and bespoke custom designs, the open-top cars could be ordered in a tri-tone of colour combinations, at a time when the majority of cars were available in black and navy blue.

The LaSalles looked great, and with the Cadillac Ninety Degree V-8 under the hood, they were very fast, as proven by Willard Rader when he achieved an average speed of 95.2mph driving the LaSalle around Milford Proving Grounds in 1927.

LaSalle’s greatest contribution to the history of the motor industry though is an addition which wasn’t actually anything to do with Harley Earl, or even the team at General Motors’ Cadillac division. The 1929 of the Cadillac LaSalle was available from the dealer fitted with a Delco-Remy car radio unit, the first car in history to provide this element of entertainment to its driver and passengers. It wasn’t until British company Crossley added a factory-fitted AM radio to their own models in 1933 that radios were mass produced, with America leading the way throughout the 1930s.

The development of the transistor radio through the Second World War made for smaller and more reliable radios, with Chrysler being the first company to fit them as standard in the mid-1950s, with high-quality FM models being added to the soundscape by the late 1950s.

The evolution of in-car entertainment went from radio to tape to CD and to today’s bluetooth connectivity, but it was the lucky drivers of Cadillac’s LaSalle who were the first to experience their very own carpool karaoke.