E3 Spark Plugs’ Where Are They Now – Bonnie & Clyde’s 1934 Ford Deluxe
We recently filled you in on the whereabouts of the 1961 Lincoln Continental that carried President John F. Kennedy to his death in Dallas 50 years ago next week. After serving four more presidents and undergoing a massive transformation that ushered in a new era of presidential limousines, the car now is permanently parked at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
But talk of what is arguably one of the most historically significant vehicles in America’s history got us here at E3 Spark Plugs wondering whatever happened to a few other famous rides that carried Hollywood celebrities, notorious criminals and world leaders. After a few Google searches, we’ve found a few of the most memorable and will bring them to you in a Where Are They Now series.
First up – Bonnie and Clyde’s Bonnie and Clyde’s 1934 Ford Deluxe.
For three years during the 1930s, Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and their gang cut a bloody swath clear across the country, robbing, kidnapping and killing anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths. Despite their criminal ways, the couple enjoyed something of a glamorized appeal after police released a series of photographs found at the gang’s Joplin, Missouri hideout.
Says author and historian Jeff Guinn: “John Dillinger had matinee-idol good looks and Pretty Boy Floyd had the best possible nickname, but the Joplin photos introduced new criminal superstars with the most titillating trademark of all—illicit sex. Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were wild and young, and undoubtedly slept together. Without Bonnie, the media outside Texas might have dismissed Clyde as a gun-toting punk, if it ever considered him at all. With her sassy photographs, Bonnie supplied the sex-appeal, the oomph that allowed the two of them to transcend the small-scale thefts and needless killings that actually comprised their criminal careers.”
But the couple’s wild ride came to a deafening halt on May 23, 1934 when a law enforcement posse unloaded 130 rounds of bullets into the stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe they were riding in. Following the couple’s much publicized deaths and the downfall of their criminal gang, the car was returned to owner Ruth Warren, but not before a legal tussle with Sheriff Henderson Jordan, who charged Warren $15,000. Her attorney argued that the actual value was around $3,000 and Federal Judge Benjamin Dawkins agreed, threatening to Jordan with jail time if he didn’t return the car to Warren. Over the ensuing decades, the car was bought and sold between various promoters for use in sideshows at county fairs and circuses. Today, it’s on display, bloodstains and all, at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada.
Next time, Elvis’ Pink Cadillac. Stay tuned.