Bonnie and Clyde Ford V8 getaway car
The 21-month crime spree by legendary US villains Bonnie and Clyde – Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and their gang – in the early 1930s, is the stuff of legends and has inspired two major movies. Their preferred getaway car was Henry Ford’s then-new V8.
It’s hard for us to imagine the aura that surrounded the exploits of this robbing, murdering gang, but against the backdrop of the ruinous Great Depression the Bonnie and Clyde gang was accorded something akin to Robin Hood status. They were seen as anti-establishment and that struck a chord with downtrodden Middle America.
Clyde Barrow was certainly a victim of a justice system that allowed him to be sexually assaulted during his earlier imprisonment and the Bonnie and Clyde rampage was originally intended to finance a prisoner breakout from the Eastham Prison Farm in Texas, where he’d been incarcerated.
Bonnie and Clyde staged many robberies and proved elusive to capture. This slipperiness Clyde put down to the gang’s use of Ford V8 cars that could outrun current police vehicles with ease. In gratitude, he penned a thank-you letter to Henry Ford:
When finally tracked down and shot-up repeatedly in a blaze of police gunfire that almost instantly killed Bonnie and Clyde, their Ford was ventilated with nearly 120 bullet holes! Bonnie and Clyde memorabilia subsequently became cult items and remain so today.
The Bonnie and Clyde death car is a 1934 Ford Model 40 B Fordor Deluxe, leather-seat sedan. The 1934 model was powered by Ford’s ground-breaking, mass-produced 3.6-litre Flathead V8 engine and had a three-speed sliding-mesh manual transmission.
The public’s fascination with the ‘death car’ made it a popular attraction and it still draws people to the Primm Valley Resort & Casino in Primm, Nevada. Accompanying letters attest to its legitimacy and there are also a few relics, including Clyde’s bloody and bullet-riddled clothing.
As with supposed relics of the true cross that, if assembled, could make several houses, there are look-alike Bonnie and Clyde death cars in other locations around the USA. Some have been deliberately faked and at least one other car is a movie-set vehicle from the 1967 production that starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty.