1938 Graham 97 Supercharged
- Brand: Graham-Paige
1938 Graham 97 Supercharged Cabriolet by Saoutchik
Graham-Paige was an American automobile manufacturer founded by brothers Joseph B. Graham (September 12, 1882–July 1970), Robert C. Graham (August 1885–October 3, 1967), and Ray A. Graham (May 28, 1887–August 13, 1932) in 1927. Automobile production ceased in 1940, and its automotive assets were acquired by Kaiser-Frazer in 1947. As a corporate entity, the Graham-Paige name continued until 1962.
Joseph, Robert and Ray Graham introduced their automobile in 1927, but in 1938 they showed their most striking design, the 'Spirit of Motion,' better known today as the 'Shark-Nose Graham.' This unusual car is one of a pair of supercharged Model 97 Grahams bodied by Saoutchik. Among its many unique features are parallel opening doors and a short, swept-back chrome-framed folding windscreen.
Both Saoutchik-bodied Grahams were displayed at the 1938 Paris Salon, with this example being the more 'special' of the pair. It had a folding windshield and cantilevered doors. It was shown again at the Faire de Lyon in March of 1939.
It was ordered by Maurice Reb and was first shown at the 1938 Prix d'Avant-Garde at the Foire de Lyon in France. Monsieur Reb joined the French Army in 1939 and, with his car, was assigned as driver to General Alphonse Pierre Juin while stationed in Algiers. Late in 1940, Reb returned the car to Algiers and around this time, it was converted to run on coal gas due to wartime fuel supply restrictions. Reb sold the Graham to the Army in late 1942, who then put a military vehicle gas engine in the car. It remained there for two more year and was used as a staff car during that time.
After its service in 1944, the Graham was sold to an American Chrysler employee, Thomas Demetry, from the French Army Service of Supply, and taken to Michigan. It was later traded among enthusiasts in Michigan until 1966, when it was sold by Morley Murphy to William Harrah for his Nevada museum.
Edmund Kowalski acquired it in 1981 from one of the Harrah's Automobile Collection dispersal auctions and set about restoring it, hoping to show it at Pebble Beach. Sadly he has passed away, before the restoration was finished. The current caretakers acquired it in 2013, and completed its restoration. Around half of the body wood was replaced during the restoration due to dry rot, however the majority of the body sheetmetal was able to preserved. The complete electrical system was rebuilt to function correctly, including the original tube-type AM radio. A period-correct engine and supercharger were rebuilt. Much of the interior trim work was missing. Molds were made and the plastics for the instrument panel were cast using the original swirled two-tone colors.
In 2015, it was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the first time the car had been shown since its debut in France. It was awarded 2nd in Class. Also in 2015 it was shown at the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Ontario, Canada where it was judged Best of Show. It has also been accepted by the Classic Car Club of America as a Full Classic.
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