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Three Passenger Coupes? 1929-1930 Full Classics?


Graham Man
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Anybody ever come across a three passenger coupe early 1930's? I have seen three Graham-Paige cars that look like a standard 4 passenger coupes except half of the rear seat is missing, making it a 3 passenger coupe? They even have a hat "shelf" built into the drivers side of the car. At first I thought these cars were owner modified (3 idenical cars pretty much rule that out) or a taxi cab configuration, but no other taxi modifications, all three are eights, officially making them "Full Classic Status", so not small cars. If these are factory cars, Graham-Paige most likely would have not been the only company offering such body configurations?

Chasing History...thanks for any help

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The seating configuration you describe can be found in at least two or three of these Model J Duesenbergs by Judkins (or Rollston??). This one has a large Crosley radio in the "shelf"/box. Duesenbergs are so large, that you could fit two people in the back if they were real close.

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Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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The Graham-Paige could also hold two normal size passengers in the back seat. Maybe the design is for a larger person? The sedans even the eights had fairly narrow rear doors, the wider single door coupe might have made it easier to get in and out?

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While described as a four passenger coupe, this Packard might fit the bill:

http://www.tomlaferriere.com/1926_packard_236_eight_cylinder.htm

I have seen this car Tom has now sold (twice) and the interior is really interesting in that the rear seat is a sort of half seat, and the pass front seat is a sort of jump seat, that you fold away to get into the back. Admittedly Tom has forgotten more about Packards than I will ever learn but I do wonder if this is really a "3 seater coupe"?

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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I don't think the "jump" seat was meant for regular use. It would come in handy if you were a doctor making house calls, and needed to take your patient with you. The seat-back folding down would allow the patient (or just a relaxed passenger) to put their legs up. In other words, it wasn't the back seat that was considered the "3rd" seat, it was the jump seat that was the "3rd" seat.

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The story I've always heard told about these particular body styles is that they were preferred by ladies of means who didn't want a mammoth limousine hauling them around so they had these perfectly lovely little coupes instead. There's a permanent seat for the chauffeur and a luxurious, spacious area in back that's perfect for one passenger with a big dress or multiple layers, plus the built-in box for parcels and a trunk. The jump seat is the temporary one (and on that Buick, it folded all the way forward and completely out of the way). It was kind of like a mini-limousine for one passenger and much more maneuverable in the city.

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Many,,,,,,,many years ago,,gas sta,mini junk yd,,,Massachusetts,,,Rt-9 and Rt-20,,X crossing,,

on the hillside behind the station,,was a late,,1920-21 Pierce,,48,,,with a body that fits this description,,I think its fully restored,,,,whoooopie,,,didnt think it was going to survive

This was around 1953 I think,,,it had electric lights and a starter,,so the purists did not regard it as an antique,,To a young boy,,,anything w/a 500" engine was gold,,,Cheers Ben

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Ok love the "Ladies of means" idea, but we are talking the Roaring 20's with lots of flapper dresses, not the Scarlet O'Hara size. Most of the cars we are talking about are 127 inch wheelbase or larger mostly eights. I have seen several with the ability to fold the passenger seat completely out of the way for entrance and exit. So we agree it seems to be for ease of entrance, they are mostly large cars, but a coupe is less obtrusive, but still a $1500+ car, $500 less than a sedan. I keep coming back to the idea of a "large size" well off businessman who can afford a chauffeur, but dosen't want a sedan (looks sportier? more frugal?).

I suppose the shelf could have been a writing desk? the ultimate business coupe?

Edited by Graham Man (see edit history)
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My guess is that such coupes were bought by people who usually drove alone or with one other person. The 3d seat was for occasional use, like a rumble seat.

Sort of the way they make personal luxury cars and coupes today, as an alternative to the SUV and minivan. The rear seats are not to be taken seriously, except for small children or pets.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think this thread went all wrong. So my two cents worth. The body style is called a Victoria Coupe. It was part of the advent of the closed car to the american market. The bigger the closed car, the higher the price. Victorias were the cheapest hardtops available and were quite popular among the mid level manufacturers. The rear seats was designed to fit two people, allow the driver more room (most Vickies have the rear of the front seat connected to the cabinet behind it) while still allowing for two regular passengers in the rear and the kids jump seat in the front beside and in front of the drivers seat. Chaffeur driven cars were still quite large. If you had a driver, there is no advantage to the vickie over a towncar. The wheelbases are usually the same and the much more expensive town car is far better appointed while still having the same performance characteristics as a Victoria Coupe. The advent of closed cars for regular middle class folks was a big change for the latter part of the twenties and the Victoria was one of the most popular ways to afford the luxury of a closed car for dad's work car or for a small family.

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Sambarn,

I have a hard time with the "Victoria Coupe" designation (I have never seen this term used in period advertisements). I have seen it used on all types of 4 and 5 passenger coupes, large and small cars even into the 50's. I think the three passenger coupes are something special. All but one of the cars that have been referenced are large cars $1000+ over their smaller brethren. I have now found 3 1929 Graham-Paige 827's in this configuration, I have my best Graham historian looking for documentation. All of the cars I have seen have the same fixed front seat position as the standard coupe, so I do not see where the driver gets more room. The jump seat may be the most important clue, jump seats were not normally used, meaning these cars were normally two passenger cars, or two normal size passengers in the back.

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Edited by Graham Man (see edit history)
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I agree with sambarn a bit about this thread wandering off a bit. The question was about such cars being common in the late '20s and early '30s. However, much of the discussion has been about the history leading up to the cars of '29/'30.

I have heard these referred to by several names, including Victoria coupes, but usually as opera coupes. Buick probably built the most of these. I have personally known about a half dozen, and seen photos of probably thirty surviving examples built from 1924 through 1931. Most well known automobile manufacturers of the '20s offered this style for at least a couple years, mostly somewhere between 1923 and 1927, although the style went back to near the beginning of major automobile production. I have seen a couple 1912 Cadillacs, I think a 1914 White, and a few other brass era marques restored and on tour. A good friend of mine has a 1921 Marmon, another friend a 1920 (?) Pierce Arrow. I have ridden in these as well as a couple of the Buicks. Yet another friend has a 1925 Pierce Arrow series 80 opera coupe. They are beautiful cars, and not very common. However, not terribly rare as a whole either.

Although the back seat is fairly small, people were smaller back then also. Most literature I have seen refers to these cars as four passenger. Remember, the average mid-size sedan of that era was considered to be a five passenger car. The 5-passenger sedan back seat is larger, but not that much.

I personally find it interesting that this question surrounds Graham Paige, as I have a 1927 (pre Graham) Paige automobile. With some interest in Paige history, the only "Paige, Graham Built" car I ever saw up close was an opera coupe on the same chassis as my 6-45 Paige 5-passenger sedan. The "Paige Graham Built" was only produced for a short time in the latter half of 1927 and early 1928. Other than the name badges, the cars were almost identical to the 1927 Paige regardless of the model or body style. I have not seen that car for about 30 years, and do not know what became of it. It was being restored at that time. I had heard later that it was finished, toured, and shown, and that it looked good. But I never saw it done.

Another little side note about the body style. A few after-market body suppliers actually offered such bodies for model T Fords. Several survive, I have seen two up close. These, again like the Buicks etc, are not full classics.

As to the actual original question? Three of the Buicks I have known were 1930 or '31. I also saw a 1930 Cadillac opera coupe once. I believe a 1930ish Auburn and a Packard also. Pierces, Packards, and Auburns, were full classics.

Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2

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Wayne,

I would like to disagree about the thread wondering, all the information has been helpful and informative even if slightly off topic. I have a large collection of Graham-Paige literature. I have seen pictures of what I thought was every model offered (even a town cars, and a 1934 limousine, we have yet to see examples of either car built) literally hundreds of pages of documentation but I have never come across anything about a 3 Passenger Coupe, or any other name including a Victoria Coupe. I have seen pictures of 4 Graham-Paige for lack of a better name "3 passenger coupes" but no factory documentation. Somebody must have period documentation of this style of car? The period documentation could answer lots of questions.

Please do not misunderstand me, I am just trying to chase history

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product_2219_01_full.jpg

The top pic shows the Victoria Coupe body. Notice the non-round back window. I don't know why but most vehicles called OPera coupes or Opera Sedans were identified by a round or oval fixed rear window. The Victoria windows actually slide down. As far as room for the driver, the room created for the driver is front to back room. The seat being builot in to the rear carbinet allowed the seat to be set further back than the usual coupe, the jump seats I have seen a re usually three to six inches closer to the dash. This gives the passenger seat in the rear a great deal of leg room. If you've driven the great big cars of the twenties you are probably aware that the car buyers from the twenties were not the giants we are today. I'm still looking for online docs to add to this (as far as the Marmon is concerned) to add to this.

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product_2228_01_full.jpg

And.....If it seems I am over focused on this particular car, I own two of the last three Marmon Victorias known to exist, One is in pieces but can be seen in the fall 68 Automobile quarterly in the Marmon Article and the other is an older restoration driver quality car.

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post-59076-143142661258_thumb.jpg

The Victoria interior. Note the driver's seat that is built into the cabinet in the rear. This car offers more driver comfort than any other twenties car I have driven. At 6', it's the first that is actually comfortable for a longtime. Also the distance to the passenger jump seat allows the driver to hit third and not elbow his passenger in the chest!!

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Love it, that is what searching history is all about. Now I will go for the grand slam and try to find some Graham-Paige stuff advertising the "Victoria" interesting about how rare or common they are, so far there are more documented Graham-Paige 827 Victoria coupes (3) surviving than any other example of 827 Graham-Paige Coupes, including roadsters (2), cabriolets (1), standard coupe (1).

I guess the attraction of the Victoria, is still a little vague to me, why just enclose off seat room without adding function. The ability to access the rear seat easier must have been the big draw? or maybe the sedan rear seat access without the added expense of a sedan (+$500 for the Graham 827 sedan, almost 25% more)? and the built in trunk would have been nice (only coupes had that till mid 30s).

Thank you everyone who helped

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[).

I guess the attraction of the Victoria, is still a little vague to me, why just enclose off seat room without adding function. The ability to access the rear seat easier must have been the big draw? or maybe the sedan rear seat access without the added expense of a sedan (+$500 for the Graham 827 sedan, almost 25% more)? and the built in trunk would have been nice (only coupes had that till mid 30s).

Not sure if it would apply, but I recall when I was a kid that my dad preferred 2 door cars as safer for a kid to be in the back - no door to fool with (pre seat belts)

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