Bringing home a 1928 Graham-Paige 610If you are a Graham-Paige nut like me your ears are always keen to any new Graham sightings. I have been into Graham automobiles for over ten years now and I always hear interesting rumors but one kept popping up…a Graham-Paige sitting in a garage in a town not 20 miles away. But that was where the story dried up… something about a bad transmission and then he parked the car?
Fast forward several years at the local 2008 GOCI meet in LaCrosse Wisconsin where a new rumor was the elusive Graham owner had made an appearance, but I missed him again. I was starting to think this story was exactly that only a story. We had a banner Graham year with both of my Grahams appearing in the big screen movie “Public Enemies”. It was the most fun I have ever had with the Grahams. I drove both my 1929 and 1933 Grahams in several scenes. In the last hurrah for the movie we were going to drive my 1933 Graham down to the local theater and display the Graham in front of the theater for the Premier of the movie. We were running late and flying low in the Graham on our way to LaCrosse. We drove into the parking lot with two other 1930s vintage cars from the movie a 1933 Oldsmobile, and a 1931 Chrysler both sedans, everyone looking great in their 1930’s attire. We talked and talked about the movie and the local history of the Gangster era. The stories were great everyone wanted to know about working on the movie, and they stopped and took pictures of my wife and I and the cars.
One gentleman wanted to know more about the Graham specifically. I love to talk Graham and so did he. In fact he still owns a Graham…yes the transmission is giving me problems…could this be the mysterious long rumored Graham Paige? We had a great time talking Graham so Ralph (Graham owner) and I exchanged phone numbers and I promised I would come over and see the Graham. We literally ran into the theater as the movie had all ready started.
My only condition of the sale was I wanted to put all the parts back on the car before we moved it. Ralph had started to disassemble the drive shaft and transmission years ago. This was a great plan since some of the missing parts were stored in drawers and shelves all over the garage and only Ralph would have found them. With the Graham bolted back together we set up a date to bring her out into the sunlight for the first time in 36 years.
We set the date for the next Saturday; my friends Steve and Dave were going to help me. Steve volunteered the service of his enclosed car trailer. We meet at the garage to plan the exit strategy. The Graham now had air in the tires and was lowered to the ground. With everything rolling we pushed her into the driveway and the sun illuminated the Graham for the first time in 36 years. Ralph’s grandson was on hand and confirmed he had never seen the Graham outside in his lifetime, he was 24 years old. We took piles of pictures in almost every configuration of people and the Graham. The next step was the big one; the Graham brakes were not working except the emergency brake. We had to tow the car up a very steep incline to get it to the upper driveway about 30 feet up! Steve backed down his four-wheel drive truck, I put a tow strap on the Graham and two safety chains, I did not want the Graham to get away now. With the Graham safely in the top driveway we all lined up in front of the Graham for a group picture. I snapped a couple with the Ralph and Dorothy and their Graham. Loading was easy because Steve had a winch in his trailer. My 9 year old Ben steered the Graham into the trailer, his grin was almost as big as mine! As the Graham disappeared into the trailer I looked back to see both the owner and his wife with a tear in their eye.
Dave, Kristie, Chris, Ralph, Dorothy, Julia, Ben, Matthew, and Steve