1939 Graham Paige
Year of manufacture1939
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
Chassis no 501 450
- Interesting history, bodied by Pourtout
- Prestigious ownership
- Very rare model, impressive design
This car's history is particularly interesting for at least two reasons: one is it has got very special bodywork and another is that it would have been owned by Françoise Sagan or at least by her family, the car is known as "the Sagan car".
Its story begins at the end of the Thirties. 20 chassis would have been shipped from Detroit to Paris in 1938 and 1939. They were consigned to selected coach builders, Marcel Pourtout, Saoutchik, Van Vooren and Neirinick in Brussels, but we do not how many chassis to each coach builder. In 1985, the well known restorer, André Lecocq, told the owner that Pourtout had been sent only five chassis, building four as Coupées and one as a cabriolet, which would be the car we are offering. According to another source, (Automobilia magazine n° 67, March/April 2004), Pourtout would have made 12 cabriolets between April 1938 and the end of 1939. This sounds a lot, and whatever the correct number may be, it was still a very rare car. The car was powered by a supercharged straight six 3,5 litre engine, developing 115 BHP and mated to a three speed gearbox with overdrive.
Thanks to the archives of the Pourtout family, we know that chassis 501 450 left the Pourtout workshop in June 1939 as a two seater cabriolet. It was sold for 25,000 francs to the Paris dealer Chapat, Avenue de la Grande Armée, the name of the first owner is difficult to decipher.
A photograph survives from 1953 of our Graham Paige, still in its original white and registered with a Paris number, 4516 BX 75. It can be recognized from its lines with no running boards, from the shape of its rear wings and its short hood.
Mr. Quoirez, Françoise Sagan's father, would have bought the car for her eighteenth birthday. The car had done 60,000 kms and before giving it to Françoise he had it fully serviced. The engine and steering were reconditioned, the transmission and suspension checked. The car was repainted, perhaps this is when it was painted pale blue, the hood was recovered and new tyres were fitted. We've got a photograph of the novelist driving the Graham Paige, but she didn't use it much as it wasn't long before she'd bought her first Jaguar. The impressive Franco-American cabriolet was laid up in a garage at her father's country house until 1970. Denis Westoff, Francoise's son, confirms in an email to the current that he remembers seeing the car in his grandfather's garage, painted pale blue and with dark chestnut upholstery.
In 1970, the car was sold to Ms. Francine Veyssiere, who wanted to open a motor museum in the South West of France, but this came to nothing. In 1983 the present owner, a German collector, bought it still in the Gironde. The car was still pale blue with its chestnut upholstery. Later he was to restore it to its original white.
This particular Graham Paige is especially impressive, with its shark nose grille and its forward sloping wings, like a predator waiting to pounce. It was one of the last attempts of its builder to appeal to the public with the theme of "Spirit of Motion". In this Poutout bodied cabriolet version it is even more interesting, its potential prestigious ownership adding to its desirability. It can't fail to attract the attention of the knowledgeable connoisseur.