The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cadillac La Salle, Dusenberg -- Beautiful Design and Great Music from 1927

Have you heard of someone named Harley J. Earl? He was one of my heroes when I was young.

That's him below sitting behind the wheel of one of his most famous creations, the Buick Y-Job.
Born in 1893, Earl became one of the most influential industrial designers in the 20th century. He was a fledgling consultant to Cadillac when designed the beauty in the pic below. It's a 1927 LaSalle.

Lawrence Fisher, General Manager of the Cadillac division of GM, had discovered Earl working in his father's custom body shop and was impressed with his design skill and his use of clay models.  Fisher commissioned Earl to design Cadillac's companion model, the LaSalle, which debuted in 1927.
GM liked the result so much that they made him the first head of GM's Art and Color Division. He eventually became a VP at GM when GM was at its pinnacle, probably because his styling work had helped it reach that pinnacle. Oh yes, I almost forgot, Earl was the guy who pushed GM to develop the Corvette in the early '50s.

During the year the La Salle came out, one of the top popular songs was this nice tune by Gene Austin, "Tonight, You Belong to Me." Listen and tell me if you '50s freaks find anything familiar about it.
Yep, you're right. Frankie Laine had a record of it in 1952. But that's not the version I thought of. The version I remember was by Patience and Prudence.

The La Salle was a beautiful car, a real doozy. Which leads to the next beautiful car from 1927...the Dusenberg. I always thought the word "doozy" originated in reference to the beautiful Dusenberg automobile. I was wrong. Follow this link and a helpful young associate editor lady from Merriam Webster will explain that the Dusenberg link to this word is a nice story but not true.
The Dusenberg Brothers were super engineers but not very good business men. August's and Frederick's engineering skill developed the first hydraulic brakes ever and to their production of the first mass produced 8 cylinder engine. The engines and the cars they powered were very fast. Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix in 1921. He was driving a Dusenberg.

Their Model X is very rare and was only built in 1926-27. The pic below shows one of these rare beauties.
Guys and gals from 1927 who weren't filthy rich (and similar guys and gals today) were (and are) probably melancholy that they didn't have the cash to get one of these beautiful automobiles.

"Melancholy Baby" was written in 1912. Gene Austin's version reached #3 on the charts in 1927. From comedian references (Red Skeleton, Milton Berle, etc.), I always associated this song with funny drunks.

Not a bad year to be alive. Good music, great cars. A couple of years before the crash. 1927.


  1. Ah. That editor lady is guilty of the heinous crime of confusing us with facts. I look upon such people... those who delight in debunking a wonderful story... with a jaundiced eye, and I'm being VERY kind here.

    I don't recall "You Belong to Me," but I sure do remember "Melancholy Baby." That was a doozy of a song. ;-)

  2. I like your point about the delight some take in debunking a wonderful story. Some mean spirited people are always ready to rain on anyone else's parade. It's a streak that I'm afraid affects many academics, scholars, pedants, etc.