Historic Car Brands
The double-barrelled name indicates that the Graham brothers took over the Paige company. That happened in 1927, but both brands had been operating independently prior to this takeover: Paige since 1908 and Graham since 1919.
1925 Graham Brothers truck – State Library of Queensland
The Graham automobile manufacturing story began when Graham brothers Joseph, Robert and Ray, sold their glass-making business and began to convert Ford Model T cars into trucks. That led to truck manufacture under the ‘Graham’ brand, using a variety of engine makes, including Dodge car engines.
Dodge cars were selling well, after Word War I, but tragedy struck in 1920, when both brothers died suddenly – John with pneumonia and Horace with cirrhosis.
The Dodge brothers’ widows ran the company for the next five years and although the Dodge car market share began to slide, the sometimes-Dodge-powered, Graham truck line sold well.
The Graham truck success impressed Frederick J Haynes, then president of Dodge Brothers, who saw a way to get Dodge into the truck business without disrupting passenger car production.
The Grahams were receptive to Dodge’s overtures and in April 1921 an agreement was signed: Graham would build trucks, powered by Dodge four-cylinder engines and sell them exclusively through the Dodge dealer network. Graham trucks gained the backing of an established manufacturer with a nationwide dealer network.
Graham Brothers Inc was formed and it operated almost as a Dodge subsidiary. Soon, four plants were needed to satisfy demand that saw production volume climb from 1086 trucks in 1921 to over 37,000 in 1926.
However, while the Dodge-powered Graham truck initiative was successful, Dodge cars had slipped to fifth place in the market and Dodge Brothers was bought by an investment group in 1926.
During 1927 the investment group was looking to sell off Dodge and the Graham brothers, who had management positions at Dodge, must have got wind of the fledgling deal that was eventually done when Chrysler took over Dodge in 1928.
The Grahams didn’t wait around for the axe to fall and departed Dodge in 1927 to start up the Graham-Paige car business.
1916 Paige Fleetwood – ‘Horseless Age’
Paige-Detroit began producing cars in 1908, when Fred Paige and Harry Jewett joined forces. Their initial offering was a two-seater, powered by a 2.2-litre, three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. In 1910 it was replaced by a three-litre, four-cylinder, four-stroke engine and the company name was shortened to ‘Paige’.
In 1914 a Rutenberg-powered, 38hp, 3.7-litre, six-cylinder model was added and a larger capacity, five-litre, Continental-powered model in 1916, at which time the four-cylinder model was dropped. In that same year, Paige adopted Henry Ford’s moving production line system.
In 1919, a Duesenberg-powered Paige-Linwood model was launched.
In 1921, a stripped-out, but mechanically-stock Paige 6-66, employed its 66hp to set a new world speed record of 102.8mph at Daytona. The very same car later drove from Brisbane to Adelaide in 68 hours.
1922 Paige Daytona Speedster- Coolsteve11
These records spawned the Paige Daytona Speedster model, powered by a 70hp, 5.4-litre Continental six.
1922 Paige-Daytona 6-66 Speedster ‘mother-in-law-seat’ – Coolsteve11
Paige cars were top-quality, with production standards similar to the world’s leading brands and that became problem in the early 1920s, with a post-war economic slump.
1922 Jewett – Andacar
Between 1923 and 1926 Paige also produced less-specified Jewett models, initially powered by 50-55hp Jewett six-cylinder engines and then by 40hp Continental engines.
The last Paige innovation was the 1927 Straightaway Eight, powered by a Lycoming L-head, side-valve, 80hp straight-eight engine and fitted with a Warner Hi-Flex, four-speed, overdrive transmission.
1927 Paige 8-85 – Neville Storey Collection
Later in 1927, Paige was acquired by Graham and subsequent cars were branded Graham-Paige.
1929 Graham-Paige Model 612 – Allison Stilwell
The initial cars were powered mainly by in-house six- and eight-cylinder engines, but some Continental engines were used as well. The Graham-Paige lineup was well made and well received by the market. Bodywork was designed and produced by the Wayne Body Company that the Grahams had also purchased.
Graham Paige 613 Interior – Allison Stillwell.
As well as producing cars, the Graham boys launched a range of Paige light trucks, based on the Special Six chassis, and fitted with a three-speed transmission. Body types included various open and closed, light delivery vehicles.
This extension of the Grahams’ interests back into truck building came as an unpleasant surprise to Chrysler Corporation – now the owners of Dodge – who filed suit against Graham-Page early in 1931, contending that the agreement between the Grahams and Dodge in 1926 prohibited the brothers from manufacturing trucks in competition with Dodge for the following five years.
1930 Graham Drophead Coupe – Lars-Goran Lindgren
The Grahams claimed the document applied only to heavy-duty trucks and buses, but the dispute became rather academic, because the economic slow down had caused Paige trucks to sell poorly.
The suit was ended by mutual consent in October 1931 and the Paige commercial line ceased with the 1932 models. The Brothers also dropped the Paige name, badging the cars ‘Graham’.
1932 Graham Blue Streak Sedan – Lars-Goran-Lindgren
Amos Northup was Wayne’s chief designer he came up with the then-radical ‘Blue Streak’ range in 1932. Powered by a new, 90hp straight-eight engine, the new Graham featured a unique chassis that had elongated ‘axle housing holes’ at the rear. Instead of being mounted under a kicked-up chassis, the Graham axle tubes ran through the chassis rails. The rear leaf springs were mounted outboard of the frame rails.
1933 Graham ‘Banjo’ Frame
This design allowed a much lower profile and improved handling that enabled racing Grahams to rack up some impressive victories.
For 1934, Graham fitted an optional crank-driven supercharger to the 4.3-litre eight and then to six, in 1936, when the eight was discontinued.
1936 Graham Model 80A Crusader Touring Sedan – Lars-Goran Lindgren
An offshoot was the Bertelli-bodied Graham British Special sports saloon.
Sales weren’t brilliant in the Depression years, so there was no investment money for fresh bodywork tooling. Graham was forced to buy bodywork from REO for the 1936-37 Grahams.
1937 Graham Cavalier – Stephen Foskett
Amos Northup started designing the 1938 Graham line-up, but died in 1937 and the job was finished by Graham engineers. The result was highly regarded ‘Spirit of Motion’ styling, featuring a projecting nose and front mudguards, but sales were muted.
1940 Graham Model 107 Deluxe – Mr-Choppers
For 1940, Graham did a deal with Hupmobile, who owned the dies for the defunct Cord 810/812 bodywork. Graham did the deal to produce the Hupmobile Skylark, as well as to use the bodywork on a Graham car, called the Hollywood.
Both vehicles had modified Cord front bodywork, because they were rear-wheel-drive, not front-wheel-drive. The Graham was powered by the 3.6-litre six, with or without supercharger.
Graham Hollywood – Lebubu93
The Hollywood styling had great market appeal and orders flooded in. However, months of production delays meant that most of those orders were cancelled and Graham was forced to stop manufacturing in late 1940. The factory doors were re-opened for Word War II materiel production.
There were attempts to revive the ‘Graham’ badge in 1945, but the company was absorbed by Kaiser-Frazer.