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One of Saoutchik's two “Shark-Nose” Graham 97 Cabriolets from 1938 passes through Algeria

Joseph, Robert and Ray Graham introduced their automobile in 1927, but in 1938 they showed their most striking design, the "Spirit of Motion", better known today as the "Shark-Nose Graham". This unusual car is one of a pair of supercharged Model 97 Grahams bodied by Saoutchik. Among its many unique features are parallel-opening doors and a short folding windshield with a swept chrome frame.

It was the final creation of Amos Northrup, a pioneer of automotive aerodynamics. European coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik took Northrup's aerodynamic lines and installed a custom convertible body on the "Sharknose" chassis. It sported a protruding bow flanked by curved fenders with headlights blending gently into their leading edges. The radiator seemed to bend around the hood. Pontoon fenders with wraps over the rear wheels and a built-in trunk weren't entirely new in 1938, but no American car had ever carried them so boldly.

The Grahams at the Paris show

Both Saoutchik-bodied Grahams were exhibited at the 1938 Paris Salon, this example being the more "special" of the pair. It had a folding windshield and overhanging doors. It was shown again at the Lyon Fair in March 1939.

One of the two “Shark-Nose” Graham 97 Cabriolets from Saoutchik in Algeria

Chassis #: 141747 and engine #: 146749 was commissioned by Maurice Reb and was first presented at the 1938 Prix d'Avant-Garde at the Foire de Lyon in France.

Mr. Reb joined the French army in 1939 and, with his car, was assigned as driver to General Alphonse Pierre Juin while he was stationed in Algiers.

In late 1940, Reb returned the car to Algiers and at this time it was converted to run on coal gas due to wartime fuel supply restrictions. Reb sold the Graham to the Army in late 1942, who then put a military vehicle gasoline engine into the car. It remained there for two more years and was used as a staff car during this time.

Graham heading to the USA

After service in 1944, the Graham was sold to an American Chrysler employee, Thomas Demetry, of the French Army Service of Supply, and taken to Michigan. It was then traded among Michigan enthusiasts until 1966 when it was sold by Morley Murphy to William Harrah for his Nevada museum.

Edmund Kowalski acquired it in 1981 at one of the Harrah's Automobile Collection dispersal auctions and set about restoring it, hoping to show it at Pebble Beach. Unfortunately, he died before the restoration was completed.

The current caretakers acquired it in 2013 and completed its restoration. About half of the body wood was replaced during the restoration due to dry rot, but the majority of the body sheet metal could be preserved. The entire electrical system has been rebuilt to function properly, including the original tube AM radio. A vintage engine and compressor have been rebuilt. Much of the interior trim work was missing. Molds were made and plastics for the dashboard were cast using the original swirly two-tone colors.

Appearance at the Concours d’Elegance

In 2015, it was presented at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the first time the car had been presented since its debut in France. He was awarded 2nd in class. Also in 2015, it was presented at the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Ontario, Canada, where it was judged Best of Show. It was also accepted by the Classic Car Club of America as a complete classic.


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