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Pierce-Arrow Ad in AACA Magazine


jeff_a
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Dear Pierce-Arrow Enthusiasts,

I was looking through a Sept./Oct 1966 copy of Antique Automobile and saw a car for sale that is interesting in light of the release of the movie "Public Enemy" this week. The car was a 1934 Pierce-Arrow 12 . The seller in Florida said it was John Dillinger's last car, was riddled with bullet holes, and had a lot of parts missing -- but was restorable. The auto had traveled with a circus from 1934-on as a sideshow attraction. I think the ad concluded with "First $225 takes."

I would be happy to find the ad and put the actual text of it here if anyone is interested. I wondered if anyone's heard of this car and if there's any evidence that John Dillinger had a Pierce-Arrow V-12. I haven't seen the film yet and have no idea how accurate THAT will be!

Sincerely, ----Jeff

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34 Pierce Guy,

I can't scan it. Will try to copy it.

Pg 74, Vol. 30, No. 5:

"1934 PIERCE ARROW 12, last car used by the notorious John Dillinger. Armor plated window glass 1/4" bullet proof, badly riddled with machine gun bullet holes, used since 1934 by circus for side show, many small parts stolen and rough but restorable, division window with tommy gun storage space below, no photos, first $220 buys it. Autoville Inc., Box 175, Maitland, Florida 32751."

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

It's too bad the owner at that time didn't have photos to go with it! But I wonder a little about the description since the factory glass would have been that thick, and it's possible the 'storage space' was the area jump seats (which could have been missing at the time) would have been fitted.

In any case it would be very interesting to learn more about any Dillinger ties to Pierce Arrow.

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I don't off the top of my head, remember any Dillinger owned Pierce-Arrows.

We have been researching outlaw cars for sometime now.

Melvin Purvis, one of the cops at the Biograph movie theater, had a 29 PA.

Dillinger's last car was probably a 34 Ford.

Hope that helped-

Sandy Jones

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34 Pierce Guy,

I don't know any more about this than what was in the classified ad. Is the Pierce Arrow Society pretty good at keeping records of the cars built, the cars that survive, and their provenance? Maybe someone remembers the car or the "Autoville, Inc." business in Maitland, Florida.

We are either dealing with a Pierce-Arrow that really was what the seller claimed it to be, OR just a "likely-looking" vehicle that was doctored-up to appear like it could have been the bank robber's car, in my opinion.

The phrase "last car used by" bothers me. That could mean a number of things. Did he own it, get a ride in it once, or use it to keep a couple of suitcases in?

outlaw car man,

Thank you for your input. I didn't know that there were people actively pursuing the history of autos used by outlaws. I suppose -- if the car in question really was owned by John Dillinger -- he would never have walked into the Chicago Pierce-Arrow dealership and said "Hi, my name is John Dillinger, and I'd like to buy that car." Therefore, the sale, the title, the registration, and the tag would be off-the-books or under an alias and hard to track. Has that been your experience with the cars you have studied?

----Jeff

Edited by jeff_a (see edit history)
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He did actually purchase cars , one being a 1934 Hudson Club Sedan in St Louis. He & his girlfriend attended the auto show there and he bought the new Hudson. Of course he used another name, Carl T. Hellman. I have the FBI files on the purchase- Reason, he was caught not long after in Tucson and the car impounded- It went on tour after he was killed and has disappeared- Gang also had a 34 Buick & a 34 Studebaker

He bought about 5- 6 1933 Essex Terraplane 8 sedans, his most favorite car, all this in 14 months. I actually owned one of them, it's now in the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, DC on display. The Essex was REAL fast, BIG straight 8

I'm in the middle of restoring a 1933 Buick series 90 7-passenger sedan- The Dillinger gang used one of these models to rob the Racine bank, Nov 1933. Not very smart pulling up in a new Buick " limo" .

I also cloned the Bonnie & Clyde death car, pre-ambush, no holes ! It's now owned by the guy that wrote the book about them. He has had it in shows on tour etc. Took about 7 years and hours & hours & hours of research. I spent 1 1/2 hours with the car when it was outside Vegas, documenting tons of detial, & photographs-

Why do I do this, just cause , something historically fun.

I have quite a few VIN #s, motor #s on many of the car used by the bad guys of the 30s-

Way more then you probably wanted to know, but it's fun car stuff-

Sandy Jones

Outlaw Car Man

outlaw car man,

Thank you for your input. I didn't know that there were people actively pursuing the history of autos used by outlaws. I suppose -- if the car in question really was owned by John Dillinger -- he would never have walked into the Chicago Pierce-Arrow dealership and said "Hi, my name is John Dillinger, and I'd like to buy that car." Therefore, the sale, the title, the registration, and the tag would be off-the-books or under an alias and hard to track. Has that been your experience with the cars you have studied?

----Jeff

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I spotted another ad for this 1934 Pierce-Arrow in the March-April, 1967 issue of Antique Automobile , pg 73. It is about the same, but this time it says the bullet proof glass is 1 1/4" thick, the price is $2200, and the address is Autoville Inc., Drawer A.O., Apopka, Florida 32703.

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