The 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan: A Complete Guide to Bonnie and Clyde’s Death Car
When it comes to historic cars, one haunting vehicle sticks out. The 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan made headlines as being part of a notorious crime spree with two celebrities walking on the other side of the law. Bonnie and Clyde’s “death car” was riddled with bullet holes and that’s how we remember it today. But, what do we really know about the vehicle behind the story, and where is that car today?
The 1934 Ford Deluxe model behind the infamous “death car” made famous by Bonnie and Clyde?
The model made famous by the criminal couple was a 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan. This vehicle had a 3.6-liter flat V8 engine under the hood, producing approximately 45-85 hp and 130 lb-ft of torque, which wasn’t a lot of power, but enough to outrun the cops if you need to.
Paired with it was a three-speed manual transmission and it ran on a rear-wheel drivetrain. According to the CarLogos website, the 1943 Ford had a top speed of 65 mph, which is about 11 mph less than the previous Model V8 version, which could go from 0 to 60 mph in 17 seconds. As for price, you could buy one of these sedans starting at $525 to $625.
Did Bonnie and Clyde own the 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan?
While the car is linked to the criminal duo, the Ford sedan didn’t actually belong to them. They stole it from another couple in May of 1934, just weeks before Bonnie and Clyde met their demise with the police. Ruth Warren and her husband Jesse bought the car from a local Ford dealer for $835, which would be about $14,000 today.
When they purchased it new, it came with some extra features, such as a metal cover for the spare tire, front and rear bumper guards, safety glass windows, and doors that opened to the rear. Plus, it was painted Cordoba Grey, had leather finishing, and an Arvian hot water heater.
Mr. and Mrs. Warren had the car in their possession for a few weeks, putting very few miles on it, when it was stolen from their property, and as HotCars reports, the details of the actual theft aren’t too well known, but it’s speculated that the famous criminal couple took it while Ruth was busy chatting with friends.
Bonnie and Clyde would then use the car as a getaway vehicle in many robberies and murders for the next couple of weeks (adding 7,000 miles to the motor). Their criminal spree ended on May 23rd, 1934 when police ambushed them in the Ford sedan.
It’s a bit murky about how many bullets were shot into the vehicle, but it appears there were a total of 112 holes, some penetrating the hood of the car.
Whatever happened to the infamous Ford sedan?
After the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde, the 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan ultimately went back into Mrs. Warren’s possession after getting a judge to rule in her favor in court. Not long after that, she rented it out to John Castle of United Shows, who used it as an exhibition for the Topeka fairgrounds. However, he didn’t end up paying for it, so it went back into Mrs. Warren’s possession.
It was then rented out to Charles Stanley for a monthly fee of $200, who traveled the country with it showing it off at various fairs and events. After a while, she just sold it to him for $3,500. Years later, the car was entered in the 1987 Interstate Batteries Great Race, in an attempt to get buyers interested in it.
Slight changes were made like plexiglass windows were put in, and the engine was restored to pass inspection for the race. The car exchanged hands a few more times, but today you can find it in Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm Nevada after its purchase for $250,000.
Adding to the spooky ambiance of the car’s showing is the figure standing next to the car wearing Clyde’s real shirt worn when he died. He occasionally will display at museums and other casinos throughout the country.
Over the years, many fakes were created to profit off Bonnie and Clyde’s fame. Most were built for movies dedicated to the criminal couple’s crime spree. One, however, was created by a showman who placed chickens in the same model Ford sedan.
He then shot up the car with the chickens inside to get the blood splatter effect seen in the real car. He toured the country claiming it was the real vehicle from Bonnie and Clyde, but the police found out and he was prosecuted. Warner Brothers bought that fake years later and used it to build a replica for their 1967 movie.
The 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan was made famous for being the first non-sports vehicle to have a V8 engine. One particular car, though, was famous for another reason and that’s because it was associated with Bonnie and Clyde, a couple known for criminal activities.