Car Show Classics: 1939 GM Pairing

I couldn’t leave this pair of magnificent late-thirties Holden-bodied cars, that were at the 2017 Motorclassica show, without sharing them.  While they may not be as glamourous as the roadsters featured last time, they are still pretty interesting.  Let’s start with the junior-Cadillac 1939 LaSalle Series 50.

This is an interesting car, one of just 43 built by GM-Holden at their Pagewood plant in Adelaide, South Australia that year, and 302 from 1936-40.  It fits neatly into the evolution of cars, which by the late 1930’s had gained integrated trunks to replace strapping a metal box on a rack at the rear of the car.  The car is on a relatively compact 120″ wheelbase, and has a hand-me-down Cadillac 322 ci V8.

The interior is impressively plush, and the minimalist instrument strip behind the steering wheel (and column gear change of course!) is worthy of note too.  I wonder why they made it so small; I would have thought that in cars of this era the water temperature and oil pressure would still be items to monitor.

This 1939 Oldsmobile 6 Sports Roadster is also a hens-teeth rarity; apparently this model was not offered in the US for 1939 and just 10 were built by Holden alongside 1,041 60 series sedans (with the same body as the LaSalle featured above) and 91 coupes.  These had the 215 ci or 3.5 litre 6-cylinder engine, while there were also 23 8-cylinder powered Roadsters built.

The interior is broadly similar to the LaSalle, particularly the windscreen surround is quite distinctive and the steering wheel and gear shift look the same too.  Interestingly from 1935-40 there were 1,413 Oldsmobile trucks sold here that were a standard Chevrolet/GMC with Olds power.  This won’t have been to satisfy different dealership streams; there was only one!

You can see the round steps provided to access the dickie seat (aka rumble seat), which always strikes me as being fairly precarious.  Did the rumble seat roadster return to the US after WW2?  I can’t think of any apart from British examples such as the Triumph 2000 roadster.

This is just a taste of the variety of cars built by GM-Holden before World War 2; afterwards of course things were much different even before the debut of the Holden 48-215.


Further Reading

Car Show Classic: 2017 Motorclassica – A Hall Of Holden History

Car Show Classic: Commodore Generations At Motorclassica 2017

Car Show Classics: Vintage GM Roadsters At Motorclassica