Graham was quite the risk taker, but it had to be in order to continue producing cars through the Great Depression. In the mid 1930s, it was supercharging its mid-priced cars — unheard of in anything less than an Auburn. In 1938, it came out with its edgy Spirit of Motion “shark nose” models designed by Amos Northup, followed in 1940 by the Graham Hollywood models, which used the old Cord body dies, which were still ultra-modern for the time. Neither helped Graham cling on to automobile production until World War II stopped all automobile production, and by the 1942 model year, Graham was out of the car business.
My quest to find a prewar coupe tends to take me to the independents, particularly makes such as Studebaker, Hupmobile and Graham. Since Graham didn’t build a traditional-style coupe after 1937 (its Combination Coupes were more like two-door sedans), it’s my dream to find one of the coachbuilt “shark nose” 1938-‘40 Graham coupes built by Pourtout. I am not sure how many Graham coupes French coachbuilder Pourtout built — it could have been one or it could have been a handful — and as far as I am aware, a Spirit of Motion Pourtout Graham coupe has not been seen since Nice, France, in the early 1950s.
In looking for the shark nose coupe, my search takes me to all the usual places, including eBay where I found this coachbuilt Graham gem. Graham didn’t just leave a traditional coupe out of its catalog during the Spirit of Motion era, it also left out a convertible, so French coachbuilder Saoutchik custom-built this Graham convertible. It is now offered for sale on eBay by a Southern California seller.
According to the seller, “This ‘Sharknose’ custom originated in France and was shown
at the Salon d'Elegance in Paris in 1938 where it won an award. It features wide parallel opening doors, which work much like modern van doors, moving outward slightly to slide back over the rear fenders, parallel to the body sides. Also features a 3-position convertible top. This fabulous automobile was used in World War II by a famous French General.”
The seller stated the unique Graham been featured in articles within Collectible Automobile and Automobile Quarterly and was formerly part of the Harrah Collection. The car clearly needs restoration, but is certainly worth the effort. Let’s hope it finds a willing home soon.