Bianca Castafiore, the Milanese night-angel was introduced in the Tintin books at Syldavia in “King Ottokar’s Sceptre”. Tintin was thrown off an aeroplane while on his way to Klow, the capital of Syldavia. He escaped by holding on to a parachute. Thereafter the Police hatched a plan to kill him, but he escaped again by hitching lift in a blue limousine which was taking Bianca for a concert.
This car was a LaSalle 350 1934 model, distinctly recognised by the circular vents on the bonnet. LaSalle was an American brand manufactured and marketed by the Luxury division of General Motors, Cadillac. The brand existed from 1927 through 1940. LaSalle was the idea of General Motor’s CEO Alfred P Sloan. It was conceived as the companion brand of Cadillac and was sold as the second most prestigious marque of General Motors as they were priced lower than Cadillac.The brand name was based on the French explorer – Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de LaSalle.
As per Sloan’s strategy, the car market had been divided into various segments which were served by specific brands from General Motors. At the bottom of the ladder was the Chevrolet followed by Pontiac, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Viking, Marquette, Buick, LaSalle and topped by Cadillac. The first LaSalle was designed by Harley Earl who eventually went ahead to control of all design and styling at General Motors during his 30 years career with GM.
By 1934, when the car under discussion was launched, a significant portion of the LaSalle was related more closely to Oldsmobile than to Cadillac. This car was inspired by aviation giving it a long aerodynamic look akin to an aircraft and the streamliner trains of the 30s. Earl’s main contribution to this car was the elegant thin radiator grille and the then modern aeroplane styled semi-shielded portholes along the sides of the bonnet.
By now all bodies for these cars were built by Fleetwood. These cars were competing against the Packard One-Twenty, another car featured in “King Ottokar’s Sceptre” and the Lincoln Zephyr, and losing. Cadillac tried to revive the marque by introducing a new engine and spending a packet in marketing. Sales improved momentarily, but did not reach the desired levels. By 1940 the brand was not viable and was dropped from the GM lineup.
LaSalle 350 was offered as 2-door coupe and convertible, 4 door sedan and limousine. These cars were powered by inline 8 cylinder naturally aspirated 3,938cc engines producing 95 BHP at 3,700 rpm. The engines breathed through two side operated valves per cylinder. All this power was transmitted to the rear wheels through a three speed manual gearbox.
They had independent front suspension while the rear axle was suspended using semi-elliptic leaf springs. Stopping power was provided by Bendix Hydraulically operated drum breaks on all four wheels.
These cars were used as pace cars for Indianapolis 500 race in 1934.
I am a submariner mechanical engineer. I served the Indian Navy for 21 years. I am extremely passionate about means of mechanical transport developed by humans that include automobiles, trains, ships, submarines and aircraft. I am particularly passionate about cars and want to share this exciting world with all the people.