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Period California Custom – V-16 Marmon-Powered 1936 La Salle

By Charlie Beesley:  From the same roll of film as the glamorous Plymouth custom posted last week, this 1936 La Salle leans more toward the hot rod side of things. A 200 h.p. Marmon V-16 has replaced the Olds-based straight 8 used by LaSalle from 1934- ’36, nearly doubling the horsepower at hand. Since the power-to-weight ratio of the stock Marmon Sixteen was bested only by the Duesenberg and the upstart Terraplane Eight, performance must have been startling with some 2000 fewer pounds to haul around.

Although at first glance the Marmon V-16 grille shell appears to have been sacrificed, I suspect the bottom half may simply be hiding behind the custom louvered apron. The Marmon’s wire wheels were used as well, a retro touch unusual for the time. Other custom touches include Buick taillights, Cadillac V-8 hood panels and the removal of the running boards.

As for the location seen here, the 9th & Howard Street Coffee Shop was located on a corner lot, in San Francisco’s South of Market district just across Market Street from the Tenderloin. This site has changed and is now home to a Chevron Food Mart complex.

Learn more about the Marmon V-16 when first introduced in 1931 at the end of the post. Take a look back at last week’s tantalizing Plymouth custom roadster here. 

marmon v-16

  • Front view of the custom La Salle fitted with a louvered section in front of the Marmon Radiator that was skillfully blended into the fenders.

marmon v-16 2

  • The 200 h.p. Marmon engine and radiator transplanted into the La Salle.

1936 lasalle coupe

  • Rear view of the La Salle showing a damaged L.R. fender and a “semi-custom” on the right.

1936 lasalle with Marmon v-16 2

  • Enlargeable side view of the custom. – Marmon V-16 (below) “Auto Trade Journal” Jan. 1931. 

marmon v-16 press

16 responses to “Period California Custom – V-16 Marmon-Powered 1936 La Salle

  1. Now that’s a GM unit I could park in my driveway!!! Very tastefully executed & well thought out. Hope it shows up in Pebble Beach at the Concours, eh.

  2. The fastback 4 door sedan next to it has 1941 Buick fender skirts on it, so the 1943 license plates could be a clue as to when it was built. Very nice rig indeed, and I agree David , it would be nice to have it show up in your garage, or mine as well. Very neatly done car.

  3. TININDIAN and Walt G are spot on… also in 1st foto behind the 3 gents ‘pears to be a ’41 Chevy 2 door It is indeed a rare “Sally” to sport a Marmon ’16 engine… how many Marmon 16 engines could there have been floating around at that or any time… there were just not that many of the cars ever built. They never set any sales records even tho car was a engineering masterpiece as well as a W. Dorwin Teague design style setter at the time. Can’t wait to see the next posting!!!

  4. 1981 or ’82 SAE poll included the 491-ci Marmon 16 among the 20 best internal combustion engines of all time. Mopar Slant Six, Model T Ford, Jaguar XK-6 also on that list.

  5. Along with the modifications already listed on the ’36 La Salle Coupe, the headlights look very much Packard of about 1940 vintage plus the small stainless lamps on the front fenders look like ’33 Buick. In 1960 I purchased a ’36 Buick three window cpe that had the same body as the featured La Salle. Paid $50. and drove it sixty miles home ! ALWAYS been sorry I sold it 20 years later !

  6. A 60+-year Packard maven, starting in high school w/ a Ford & Merc-trouncing ’40 One-Ten conv. with split manifold, dual Smithies, says the LaSalle’s rear bumpers are 1937-39 junior series Packard, front bumper 1937-39 senior, thinks the headlights stock LaSalle but might be 1938-39 One-Twenty, ’40 lights a trace longer, and that the adjacent four-door wears generic skirts which someone embellished with Buick trim.

    Thanks for posting this marvel, and the preceding customized Plymouth.

  7. Now that’s what I would call a sleeper or a gentleman’s hot rod. Certainly looks like someone went to a lot of trouble (and money) to create this vehicle. You would have to wonder what happened to it – is it a barn find waiting to be rediscovered or is it in someone’s private collection?

  8. These photos appear to have been taken on the corner of 9th and Howard (as the coffee shop window states) in San Francisco. If you have a look on Google Maps and Google Street view you can see that there is a Chevron gas station on the site now. This location can be confidently confirmed as the building in front ( far right of Image 1) and the building behind (image 2) still exist.

  9. In 1946 the fastest car in SCTA Dry Lakes racing was the V 16 Marmon powered Modified of Tony Capanna. Unlimited class record of 137.24 mph average on a two way run. fastest one way run was 145.39. Wonder if the two cars/owners ever meet. Bob

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