Shark Nosed Six: 1939 Graham Model 97

1939 Graham Town and Country

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We have all heard the names of Henry Ford, Harley Earl, and the Dodge Brothers. All were notable figures in automotive history, but there were three brothers who had an incredible impact on the automobile, yet there names are almost completely forgotten today. The Graham brothers (Joseph, Robert, and Ray to be exact) founded the company originally to provide Model T truck conversions, but quickly saw potential as a car manufacturer. They pioneered a number of innovations and some of the most beautiful cars ever built. This 1939 Model 97 Town and Country showcases both their style and innovative ideas. Have a look at it here on eBay in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Graham Sharknose

This Graham features the companies most memorable style feature, the Shark-Nose. The unique styling is quite eye catching, especially when you consider that this car is 75 years old. This Town and Country model is lacking one of their other notable features, fender skirts. For those of you own own a classic with skirts, you can thank Graham for that feature! The Model 97 was offered in a number of body styles ranging from coupe to convertible and just about everything in between. As stated earlier, this one is a Town and Country, so the front half of the cab is open to the elements. This style was popular with those who were typically chauffeured around town.

Graham Supercharged Six

While Graham certainly wasn’t the first company to use superchargers, it was one of the major players in the forced induction world. Unlike most manufacturers of the time, they developed their own crankshaft driven supercharger rather than buying the design from the likes of Cummins or Duesenberg. Until Buick surpassed them in the ’90s, Graham held the record of building more supercharged cars than any other brand. Initially they were only offered on 8-cylinder cars, but eventually they began to offer forced induction on 6-cylinder cars like this one. The seller hasn’t tried to start it, but the previous owner claimed it ran well. These were extremely well built cars, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts right up and runs well with minimal work.

Graham Interior

For all the chrome and styling work that went into this car you would think the interior would be more elegant, but instead it is quite simple. I see what appears to be some missing trim, but hopefully the seller has it still. I would assume finding replacement pieces for this car will be extremely difficult and costly. Hopefully I’m wrong and there is still some kind of parts supply available.

Graham Model 97

Graham is one of those relatively unknown brands that has had a massive impact on automotive design. If it weren’t for Graham or its subsidiary brands, we likely wouldn’t have some of the beautiful designs that came out of the late ’40s and early ’50s. Hopefully someone will save this rare car, even if it’s only to preserve a piece of automotive history. I’d love to hear from any Graham owners, past or present, about parts supply and Graham ownership. So if you’ve ever had the pleasure of owning or driving one of these beautiful machines, please share!

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  1. Mark in Medford

    There is an amazing amount of parts still available for these cars though the Graham club. My father drives a 1933 Bluestreak almost every day.

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  2. geomechs geomechsMember

    I’ve never cared for the shark nose but I respect others for liking it. This is one of the cars that should be restored or preserved. I saw one of these made into a hot rod and it really chilled my blood, especially when I went through the owner/builder’s pictures and saw a stock barn find that was a driver; all it needed was a wash and shine; even the interior was good. Yes, this is a free country and the owner is entitled to do with it exactly what he wants. But there are just too few of them left to do anything but keep them original for other generations to see and appreciate.

    Like 1
  3. MikeH

    I have always lusted after a shark nosed Graham. I don’t really know why. In pictures, they’re not that attractive, but, in person, they are very impressive.

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  4. tom999p

    My neighbor has one he puts into shows, you can guarantee it’s the only Graham Shark nose at ANY car show in a 100 mile radius…

    Someone was parting one out on AACA just last month to ratrod the body. It’s sad to see people do that to a car that will be trashed, then crushed in a junkyard in five years..

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  5. John

    There is a Graham / Hupmobile OEM parts place in Auburn Indiana. Dallas Winslow was a business man who bought up most of the car companies who went into receivership including Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Velie, Franklin, Graham, Hupmobile and numerous others. He relocated all the parts in Auburn in many buildings. He produced parts at the ACD administration building and offered full service.
    This is the only motor, built by Continental with a Graham Alum head, that has pressurized oiling of the cylinder walls from a small hole thru the cylinder wall lining up with the exhaust lifter oil galley. They also use two oil control rings. John

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  6. Sportsman 810

    Yes, the ‘Sharknose’ Graham was introduced by the factory as ‘The Spirit of Motion’ and it’s design was stunning for the time with a supercharger adding uniqueness to the package. However, like numerous other Marques, ‘stunning’ doesn’t automatically mean success in the marketplace.

    There may be a little confusion in the advt. however, as it’s referred to as a ‘Town and Country’ (which was not a factory designation). Instead I believe that ‘Town Car’ would be the proper designation. I’m fairly certain that the factory never built a Town Car-only the coupe and sedan body styles- but I believe there were at least two convertibles made by independent coach makers as well as at least one town car. It was thought to have been built by LeBaron, but it was apparently done by Corbett & Co. of New York which would make it a very rare Graham, indeed.

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  7. linda

    I dated a guy who with his dad had a large collection of antique cars. They had a Graham. Don’t know the year but it was grey and was factory new inside. Beautiful. they also owned a Woods Mobilette, which was a neet little chain drive car. He and his dad are both dead now and I have no idea what happened to all of the cars.

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  8. jim s

    the carftmanship in the area of the missing roof looks poor compared to the rest of car. i too hope this gets saved. the bidding is interesting with still 4 days to go. great find.

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  9. Grr

    Never heard of this brand. Judging from what I read, sounds like they made their reputation on quality but lost it with badly judged styling and partnership mistakes in the late 30s, though they limped on for a while.

    Not a fan of this look….

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  10. Andrew Marsh

    Graham owners club is the place to get some parts , never seen a town car like this one , there will hopefully be some info one his extremely rare car

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  11. Carl B.

    Nissan purchased the Graham-Paige Crusader in 1936/37. Bought the design, production rights, all tooling, the entire assembly line, plus Engineering help from GP to set things up in Japan. They also purchased the design for a heavy truck. The result was Nissan Motor Co. Ltd first large car was a GP Crusader with a Nissan Badge. The same engine was used in the new Truck and a Bus.

    The Cars became Staff Cars for the Imperial Army, the Trucks were also used by the Imperial Army. After the war – the same engine was used by Nissan up into the 80’s.

    This design, I believe came after GP bought the production rights to Cord and liked up with another struggling auto mfg. .. but that failed as well.

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  12. Tom S.

    I think the shark nose looks great. But from the windshield back, this one’s just clumsy.

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  13. jimbosidecar

    I’ve never seen a supercharger look like this one. Didn’t graham later make a version of the Cord?

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    • Tim H

      From Wikipedia: The Cord 812 design was re-marketed almost immediately in 1940, as ailing automakers Hupmobile and Graham-Paige tried to save money, and revive the companies, by using the same body dies. Except for their similarity to the 810, their four-door sedans, the Hupp Skylark and the Graham Hollywood, were unremarkable.

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  14. Woodie Man

    I’m an absolute sucker for Town Cars. When I was a kid a local garage had a 1937 Brewster Ford Town Car sitting in the yard. Drove me crazy! Of course I was driving a 1950 Packard.

    This has to be one of the most unusual classics extant. The short wheelbase kind of indicates to me a custom conversion of a sedan. Mighty cool!

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  15. BradL
    • MikeH

      You’re probably right. Bidding is up to 16K @ 0922 Sun morning.

      Like 0
  16. Andrew Minney

    This is/was a rare car. Built by Corbett & Company of Flushing, New York. Not a pretty car but historically important.

    Like 0

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