Famous Automobiles: Bonnie and Clyde's Death Car Part 2

About famous automobiles specifically the history of Bonnie and Clyde's death car.


By early May of 1934 law officers had narrowed their search for Bonnie and Clyde to the pine hills of north Louisiana. Frank Hamer, a famous former Texas Ranger, had been on their trail for 4 months. On hearing that Barrow had fled to the relative safety of a remote rural area, Hamer telephoned Sheriff Henderson Jordan of Bienville Parish. Sheriff Jordan verified that a mysterious gray Ford had been seen in his parish. An ambush was planned.

At midnight on Tuesday, May 22, 6 lawmen--Jordan and his deputy, Hamer and 3 more Texans--selected a spot on a country road along which Barrow often drove. They concealed their cars deep in the woods and arranged themselves to wait behind a rise on the east side of the road, rifles and automatic shotguns ready. They crouched there for hours, mosquitoes plaguing them. At last the sun rose behind them, lighting the road so that they could see anything coming a mile away. At 9:10 the gray Ford appeared, coming from the north.

Inside the car Bonnie was halfway through a bacon and tomato sandwich bought a few minutes earlier in Gibsland, a crossroads town nearby. There was a pack of cigarettes in her lap. Clyde was driving in his shirt sleeves, his shoes off. His tie was hanging over the rearview mirror. As Barrow reached the crest of the hill, the officers opened fire. Repeated volleys covered the car and its occupants. Bonnie screamed shrilly for an instant and slumped forward. Barrow's head fell backward. The car careened slowly to the left and stopped, its motor stalling. The officers scrambled over the rise of ground and onto the road, firing into the car from all directions. Then the pine woods were quiet again. Barrow and Parker were dead and bleeding inside the car. Bonnie had been hit over 50 times; Clyde, although on the side of fire, had only 27 bullet holes. The car itself had been shot 107 times; its right windows were shattered, and the front door on the driver's side looked like a sieve.

In those few moments of violence Jesse Warren's new Ford, with its leaping greyhound and its Arvin hot-water heater, had become famous. It had been driven over 7,500 mi. in the 23 days since it was stolen from the driveway in Topeka, and it now bore Arkansas license plates. Inside the trunk were some 15 other plates from States all over the Midwest, West, and South; there was also an arsenal of assorted rifles, pistols, sawed-off shotguns, and ammunition.

After inspecting the car and its contents, the lawmen took all the guns and ammunition from the trunk and put them in Jordan's car. While one of the men took a few feet of movie film, 2 others went to get the coroner in Arcadia, the parish seat. By the time the coroner arrived, a souvenir-mad mob had gathered, everyone trying to get mementos. Bits of window glass were broken off; swatches of blood-soaked clothing or upholstery were ripped away; bullets and empty shells were picked up from the road. Someone clipped a lock of Bonnie's hair, another rummaged in her purse. One man was attempting to whittle off Clyde's ear. The coroner stopped him and asked the officers to have the car towed into Arcadia so he could properly perform the autopsy.

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