1940 Cadillac LaSalle Kustom "LowSalle"
- Make: Cadillac
- Model: Other
- Trim: None
- Year: 1940
- Mileage: 12,039
- Color: HOK Candy Brandywine
- Engine size: 509 Cadillac Big Block
- Number of cylinders: 8
- Transmission: Turbo 400
- Drive type: Rear Wheel Drive
- Interior color: Pearl White
- Vehicle Title: Clear Want to buy? Contact seller!
1940 Cadillac Other
Story Line on Brian Nieri’s 1940 Cadillac LaSalle Coupe Kustom “LowSalle”
After finishing my 1957 Cadillac “Phat Caddy” I wanted to build a tail dragger style kustom next. I started researching Cadillac’s early history and found the 1940 Cadillac/LaSalle to be a one year body style and it was the last year they made Cadillacs under the LaSalle name. I also liked that year because it was the only year that the headlights were in the fenders and I have never seen one done before. The stock LaSalle looked so big and bulky but my vision of chopping and lowering it could give that tail dragger look and it would still be a Cadillac. I started looking in late 2008 and over eight months I had found two stock ’40 LaSalles one in Florida and one in Los Angeles but then one popped up 40 miles away from me on the internet. I immediately saw the LaSalle and within 24 hours I towed it home. Over the next couple of weeks I had stripped the car and sold the motor and transmission. Next thing I did was order a crate motor from a company in Azusa CA. They take a 70’s Cadillac motor block and rebuild and pump it up to make a 509ci big block turnkey engine. In mid-2009 I brought the motor and car to a local shop that I thought could handle the job of installing a new clip and setting the car on the ground. After a lot of money and time I found that they were not the right shop to perform that task but at least the car was drivable. During this time I bought 1965 Thunderbird interior and a 1949 Mercury dash that I wanted to use for the interior. When designing this kustom I wanted to use other pieces from cars that I really liked. I didn’t just want to repaint the stock dash and reupholster the stock seats. Next I took it to ‘Hall of Fame Kustomizers’ Frank DeRosa and Son in Pittsburg CA who had done all of my fabrication and bodywork on Phat Caddy. After telling them my vision for the car Frank Sr told me that he would actually do the chop. He had been retired for a while but loved this car so much and wanted to be part of the build. His daughter Regina told me every time she would have him over for dinner he would talk about this car.
During 2010 and 2011 I would bring the LaSalle back and forth to Frank DeRosa’s shop so they could do some work on it and then I would take it back to do work I could do and to save some money to take it back again. They started by stripping the entire car down to the bare metal. Frank Jr. started on the exterior by widened the rear fenders 2” molded the rear skirts frenched the rear license plate installed and peaked the rear Zephyr tail lights removed the drip rails molded the grill added material around the head lights to make them flush removed the parking lights and peaked that area above the head lights smoothed out the firewall rounded all of the door corners and welded up all of the seams. Then Frank Sr. started his magic on the chop. At first he thought it would be a typical ‘40s GM chop but after seeing how much crown the roof had and how we wanted to lay it down and keep the slanted post it was a bit of a challenge. The challenge was putting the post back together and to make sure the rear quarter window was correct while also ensuring the roof line was perfect. I had the privilege and honor to be there during the chop and both Frank Sr and Jr made it look easy. After that the car was primed in gray so I could start on the interior.
We started putting the interior together and Frank DeRosa Jr asked me if I really wanted to use the Thunderbird rear package tray. He said he could make me a kustom rear package tray that would stretch between the seats and into a kustom center console. Or course I said yes. He made the frame using metal rod and then skinned it in sheet metal. He even had a compartment for my goodies. The Thunderbird interior was slightly modified and recovered in pearl white and some parts with a pearl white with a carbon fiber pattern. The headliner also used the carbon fiber pearl white pattern.
The next step was to paint the interior. My friend Richie Muraoka painted the interior using House of Kolor Pearl White on the window garnish and Candy Brandywine on the dash and center console. At this time Richie also painted the exterior of the car a Garnet Red but didn’t use a clear coat to give it a suede look. The work that was done on the suspension was really bothering me. The car would sit too high when lowered all the way down and everything hung too low to the ground. Then in 2012 I met Sean Comer who owns Comerson’s Toy Shop in Campbell CA. His shop does all kind of suspension work but specializes in off-road rock climbing 4x4s. After doing some mechanical work to the car he said he could sit the car on the ground. He would move the power steering unit back 5” and tuck it up in to the frame redo the exhaust through the X-frame pull out the rear end C-notch and redo the 4-link. Since he didn’t want to break into the finished interior he flipped the 4-link upside down by making a bar that ran under the rear end to run 2 of the links. What a trick set-up! After finishing that the motor was now hanging too low. Sean then split the driveshaft put a carrier bearing a foot away from the transmission connecting the driveshaft cut the existing motor mounts and raised the motor about 4” and re-welded new taller motor mounts……….all from underneath the car without pulling the motor. Unbelievable work to save the car.
After Sean finished I drove the car to the West Coast Kustom Nationals in Santa Maria and won ‘Top 2 Under Construction’. In July of 2012 I brought it to a neighbor of Sean’s (Ryan Wight the owner of Nor-Cal Autoworks in Campbell CA) to just checkout his shop and get an estimate for final paint. When I went to the shop I recognized cars that he had painted from magazines and other big shows so I knew he was the one. DeRosa blocked the entire car one last time and then I took it to Ryan for the final paint House of Kolor Candy Brandywine on the black base. After paint it went to Tony Gomes owner of Tri-Valley Glass in Pleasanton CA for the final window installation. Tony also cut the curved windshield of my 1957 Cadillac back in 2005 he is the best glass guy around.
The last thing on my list was the pinstriping. I had the honor of meeting Hall of Famer Rod Powell many years ago with my ’57 Caddy. I always knew I wanted him to stripe my next car. I dropped it off and told him a couple spots I wanted but I let him do whatever on the car. Like DeRosa I knew he liked this car a lot so I knew he would do it right and he did. It came out perfect. Then I was off to the West Coast Kustom Nationals again and this time I won “Top 3 Early Kustom”. Great honor for a great kustom built by a Hall of Fame Dream Team.