A Legacy of Popularity and Notoriety: The Bonnie and Clyde car

The Bonnie and Clyde car is a true mark of resilience and innovation in the American automotive industry during one of its most challenging periods. With its innovative V8 engine, sleek design, practical body styles, firm chassis and suspension, manual transmission, and effective braking system, the Bonnie and Clyde car was a revolutionary vehicle that took the industry by storm.

Table of Contents

Bonnie and Clyde car in a showcase

Backstory

Bonnie and Clyde

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, known to the world as the notorious criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde, lived an unrestrained and short life during the Great Depression in the early 1930s. They not only shared an illegal initiative but also developed a love affair and an unbreakable bond with their beloved getaway car.

They both met amid hardship when most American masses found it challenging to make ends meet. Both went on board a crime spree in which they robbed banks and evaded the law numerous times in several states. Despite their destructive natures, they both had a bond of love, and only bullets could set them apart, which a hail of bullets did.

Clyde in front of his car in 1968 movie

Not only this, they had a strong connection with their car too, the 1934 Ford Model 40 B Fordor Deluxe, a leather-seat sedan that Ford’s mass-produced V8 powered. The powerful engine and sleek design allowed them to make quick getaways and escape for over 21 months. This Bonnie and Clyde car is also nicknamed the Death Car in popular culture.

Bonnie and Clyde car covered in bullet holes

However, their spree ended in 1934 when law enforcement caught up with them and put them to rest alongside their car with 120 bullet holes on a rural road in Louisiana in May 1934.

Bonnie and Clyde’s car

1934 Ford Model 40 B Deluxe

The Bonnie and Clyde car was a 1934 Ford Model 40 B Deluxe, also called the V8. The Bonnie and Clyde car’s practical four-door design made it ideal for their criminal activities as it would accommodate their gang members and stolen loot with ease and rapidly. It was functional, and its elite status signified its freedom and boldness against the current socio-economic hardship.

Other trims of the Bonnie and Clyde Car (Ford V8 40B)

1934 Ford Model 40 Cabriolet
  • Cabriolet
  • Coupe 3-window
  • Deluxe Fordor
  • Deluxe Phaeton
  • Deluxe Roadster
  • Deluxe Tudor
  • Fordor Sedan
  • Tudor Sedan
  • Victoria
1934 Ford Model 40 roadster

What was it packing?

Bonnie and Clyde car engine

One of the most significant things about the Bonnie and Clyde Car was its revolutionary V8 engine. Ford’s introduction of the V8 engine was an example of revolution in a time when inline-4 engines were popular and reigning supreme. The front-engined Bonnie and Clyde Car had a 3.6-liter 221-cubic inch flathead V8 engine. Being the first mass-produced powerful eight-cylinder by Ford equipped with a three-speed sliding-mesh manual transmission and a rear-wheel drive, it was an inspiring achievement of engineering as the manual gearbox was smooth with its relatively easy-to-use nature, offering a satisfying control over gear selection.

The V8 engine produced around 85 horsepower and 175 Nm of torque, by the aid of which it did 0-60 mph in 17 seconds with a varying top speed of approximately 65-75 miles per hour, which was enormous according to the standards of that time making a significant step forward in the field of power and performance compared to the inferior inline-four engines dominant at the time.

Bonnie and Clyde car engine

Futuristic design, smooth operation, reliable performance, and increased power made the Bonnie and Clyde Car a standout in its class and a hit in the car community. Driving the car with this V8 engine was a roller-coaster experience, especially for that era. Bonnie and Clyde Car had sharp acceleration and responsive throttle control, an unbelievable advancement in that era.

Inside the Bonnie and Clyde Car

Bonnie and Clyde car interior

The Bonnie and Clyde Car boasted a refined, graceful, and classy stance with its superb bodyline.

Bonnie and Clyde car interior 2

The layout of the four-door configuration and room for five passengers was also practical and stylish. This layout with comfortable seating allowed easy access to passengers and simultaneously catering to the needs of families and professionals.

Bonnie and Clyde car door

The interior had a leather finish, which made the car look even classier than any car at that moment. We can see that the Bonnie and Clyde car portrays class and functionality at its finest.

The exterior of the Bonnie and Clyde Car

Bonnie and Clyde car in black

The Bonnie and Clyde car was known for its elegance and streamlined design, an essence of Art Deco aesthetics.

Bonnie and Clyde car in black from the back

The sleek body, gracefully flowing lines, and the ever-classy polished black finish showcased a sense of style and sophistication. The car attained the pinnacle of automotive design in the 1930s.

Bonnie and Clyde car in white

Other superb exterior elements included:

· A wider prodigal front grille

· Vertical hood slats with two release levers

· Slightly smaller headlights than its predecessor

· Cowl lamps

The drive of the Bonnie and Clyde Car

By the tales of Bonnie and Clyde themselves, we can say that the Bonnie and Clyde car was fast and very responsive as it helped the two crime partners evade every chase in their crime spree. The car’s chassis was sturdy, and the solid axle suspension in both the front and rear made the ride smooth and helped the vehicle overcome rough terrain easily.

Priced at?

Because of the drop in economy due to the world war, the Bonnie and Clyde Car, along with its brother trims, was available cheaply.

Bonny and Clyde Car’s popularity

Bonnie and Clyde car Hot Rod

After World War 2, people started rodding cars. Due to its authentic hotrod design, the Bonnie and Clyde Car gained massive popularity among enthusiasts, and in the ‘60s, this car was extensively used in rodding communities.

Verdict on the Bonnie and Clyde Car

Bonnie himself wrote a letter to Henry Ford expressing his gratitude for the brilliant car, saying:

“While I still have breath in my lungs, I will tell you what an awesome car you make. I have driven Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble, the Ford has got every other car skinned, and even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal, it doesn’t hurt to tell you what a fine car you got in the V-8.”

Bonnie and Clyde Car carrying a legacy

fake Bonnie and Clyde car

Indeed, there have been instances where fake death cars were created, with one notable case involving an exceptionally convincing replica that was deceitfully showcased in the United States. The fraudster placed chickens inside the car to make it appear authentic and then shot it, creating realistic blood splatters and bullet holes. However, the scheme was uncovered, leading to legal consequences for the owner. Eventually, the car was seized by authorities.

Warner Bros Bonnie and Clyde car for the movie

Following its confiscation, the car took an unexpected turn. Warner Bros. purchased the seized vehicle to aid in constructing a replica of Bonnie and Clyde’s car for the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde movie. These replicas played a significant role in the film. Today, the original confiscated car is showcased at the Volo Auto Museum, becoming a fascinating piece of cinematic and criminal history for visitors to explore.

Original Bonnie and Clyde car

The car in which Bonnie and Clyde were killed was tan-colored. Bonnie and Clyde stole the vehicle of Ruth Warren from his garage in May 1934 and used it for gang movement and criminal activities. This car later became a showpiece at numerous shows and displays. The Bonnie and Clyde car is still displayed at Primm Valley Resort & Casino in Primm, Nevada.

Conclusion

Bonnie and Clyde car front side angle

The Bonnie and Clyde car is a true mark of resilience and innovation in the American automotive industry during one of its most challenging periods. With its innovative V8 engine, sleek design, practical body styles, firm chassis and suspension, manual transmission, and effective braking system, the Bonnie and Clyde car was a revolutionary vehicle that took the industry by storm.

If you have interest in more older cars here are some to look at.

FAQS

How did the car end up in legal battles?

The original car was seized after a fraudster created a fake death car with chickens and bullet holes. Legal proceedings followed, leading to its confiscation.

Was the car used in any movies?

Yes, replicas of this car were used in the 1967 Bonnie and Clyde movie, immortalizing its role in cinematic history.

Where can I see the original car today?

You can view the original Bonnie and Clyde car at the Volo Auto Museum or Primm Valley Resort & Casino, where it’s showcased as a piece of American history.

Written by: TAZ

Your comprehensive website, your one-stop destination for a vast collection of articles and information about every car brand in existence.

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