- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

A legendary tale has circulated for so long that if it isn't factual, it ought to be.
The story goes that Cadillac's companion car, the LaSalle, which was brought out in 1927, was to be dropped after the 1933 model year. However, when the General Motors decision-makers were shown what was in store for the 1934 LaSalle they reportedly changed their minds.
The radical styling change included a tall and extremely slender grille, headlights sprouting from that grille shell mounted in long, tapered buckets, the lengthy narrow hood perforated on each side by five ventilator portholes and delicate twin-blade, bi-plane bumpers.
In the 14 years that LaSalle was produced, an ugly model was never manufactured. The four models offered in 1934, however, were particularly handsome.
The same year that LaSalle got a new lease on life in the middle of the Great Depression the late Floyd D. Akers opened the Capitol Cadillac dealership in Washington, probably not the best economic climate in which to start a new business.
Despite starting in the depths of the depression Capitol Cadillac not only survived, but thrived. Mr. Akers' grandson, Daniel Jobe, now is president of the firm and, with an aim to honor his grandfather, about 10 years ago he decided to find a 1934 model Cadillac to park in the showroom as a memorial of sorts to his grandfather and the cars he sold that first year.
Mr. Jobe preferred an open 1934 Cadillac, perhaps a convertible sedan or maybe a flashy convertible coupe.
The fact of the matter is that Cadillac produced only 13,014 cars in 1934 and more than half of them, 7,195, were LaSalles.
The popular LaSalle cars featured independent knee-action front suspension and hydraulic brakes.
In the autumn of 2000, after a decade of casually searching for a 1934 Cadillac, Mr. Jobe was about to throw in the towel. That's when he found a national-award-winning 1934 LaSalle coupe for sale in North Wilkesboro, N.C. He arranged a day trip to inspect the Diana Cream car. It was one of only 786 LaSalle coupes built in 1934. "The interior was phenomenal," Mr. Jobe said. "The whole car was gorgeous."
After purchasing the stylish car Mr. Jobe had it put on a trailer and towed straight to a Pennsylvania restoration shop for some touch-up work.
The unusual fender skirts, a $25 option, feature a hub cap on each skirt in front of the hub cap the skirt covers. Evidently, the skirts had not been painted at the same time the car was painted because the color was about a half shade different from the body.
They match perfectly now, Mr. Jobe is happy to report.
With all the cosmetic work done to perfection, attention turned to tuning up the mechanical part of the elegant LaSalle.
Eleven of the 14 years that LaSalle was produced the cars were powered by V-8 engines. The long, narrow engine hood that is so attractive on the 1934, 1935 and 1936 models dictated a long, narrow straight-eight engine. The 240-cubic-inch engine produces 95 horsepower to propel the 3,815-pound car.
Five ventilating portholes on each side of the hood are set into a convex panel.
It was a styling sensation in 1934 and was the lowest-priced LaSalle model at $1,595. The wide white sidewalls are 7.00x16-inch tires and support the car on a 119-inch wheelbase. The spare tire and tools are stored in the compartment below the rumble seat.
Three step plates, two on the right rear fender and one incorporated in the bumper, ease access to the rumble seat. It is imperative to take the first step with your right foot so that when you reach the third step on the top of the fender you can easily step into the rumble seat with your left foot. The shapely taillight lenses are evidence that LaSalle designers paid great attention to detail.
A built-in roller window shade can be lowered to keep rumble seat passengers from peering through the split rear window into the cabin.
This was the last year that General Motors cars still had fabric inserts in the roof. The next year all-steel "turret tops" did away with the hole in the roof. Nevertheless, the interior of Mr. Jobe's LaSalle is snug and comfortable.
In pre-air conditioning days moving great quantities of air kept automobile passengers cool. This was accomplished through the cowl ventilator and the pair of foot-long wing vents.
A black four-spoke banjo steering wheel is supported on a chrome-plated steering column.
The luxurious LaSalle has two armrests, two windshield wipers and two hinged visors. The single dome light has two switches, one behind the right door and one above the left door, both convenient for the driver.
The user-friendly dashboard features full instrumentation, including a 100 mph speedometer. Growing out of the center of the floor is the gearshift lever and the emergency hand brake.
The LaSalle reached a state of perfection in late summer of 2002. Mr. Jobe had his car trucked to Detroit in time for the Cadillac LaSalle Grand National Centennial on Aug. 10, 2002.
From there it was brought back to the Capitol Cadillac dealership where it was shown in the fall antique car show the dealership sponsors each year.
As nice as it is, Mr. Jobe bought the car to drive. With his wife, Lisa, by his side and daughters, Keely, 6, and Courtney, 9, in the rumble seat he thoroughly enjoys short cruises around the neighborhood.


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