We have all heard the names of Henry Ford, Harley Earl, and the Dodge Brothers. All were notable figures in automotive history, but there were three brothers who had an incredible impact on the automobile, yet there names are almost completely forgotten today. The Graham brothers (Joseph, Robert, and Ray to be exact) founded the company originally to provide Model T truck conversions, but quickly saw potential as a car manufacturer. They pioneered a number of innovations and some of the most beautiful cars ever built. This 1939 Model 97 Town and Country showcases both their style and innovative ideas. Have a look at it here on eBay in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.
This Graham features the companies most memorable style feature, the Shark-Nose. The unique styling is quite eye catching, especially when you consider that this car is 75 years old. This Town and Country model is lacking one of their other notable features, fender skirts. For those of you own own a classic with skirts, you can thank Graham for that feature! The Model 97 was offered in a number of body styles ranging from coupe to convertible and just about everything in between. As stated earlier, this one is a Town and Country, so the front half of the cab is open to the elements. This style was popular with those who were typically chauffeured around town.
While Graham certainly wasn’t the first company to use superchargers, it was one of the major players in the forced induction world. Unlike most manufacturers of the time, they developed their own crankshaft driven supercharger rather than buying the design from the likes of Cummins or Duesenberg. Until Buick surpassed them in the ’90s, Graham held the record of building more supercharged cars than any other brand. Initially they were only offered on 8-cylinder cars, but eventually they began to offer forced induction on 6-cylinder cars like this one. The seller hasn’t tried to start it, but the previous owner claimed it ran well. These were extremely well built cars, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts right up and runs well with minimal work.
For all the chrome and styling work that went into this car you would think the interior would be more elegant, but instead it is quite simple. I see what appears to be some missing trim, but hopefully the seller has it still. I would assume finding replacement pieces for this car will be extremely difficult and costly. Hopefully I’m wrong and there is still some kind of parts supply available.
Graham is one of those relatively unknown brands that has had a massive impact on automotive design. If it weren’t for Graham or its subsidiary brands, we likely wouldn’t have some of the beautiful designs that came out of the late ’40s and early ’50s. Hopefully someone will save this rare car, even if it’s only to preserve a piece of automotive history. I’d love to hear from any Graham owners, past or present, about parts supply and Graham ownership. So if you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning or driving one of these beautiful machines, please share!