1930 Graham 2nd Series Special Eight
One of Only 10 Coach-Built Graham Limos. Features a Stright-Eight Lycoming Engine.
This rare Graham limousine has been very well preserved. According to the paperwork we have with the car, the car was restored at around 70,000 miles and the odometer currently reads 75,254.
The oldest information available states the car was owned and registered to a gentleman in Corvallis, Oregon as of 1971. In April of 1977 a very well known CCCA member and car collector purchased the car at the Portland Swap meet and shipped it to San Francisco. In 1994 he had the car restored and it was in his collection until he passed away. The was housed in his penthouse where the vehicle it had to be moved by freight elevator from his collection down several stories to the street.
The condition of the care is very reasonably described as excellent. The car starts easily and runs effortlessly. The transmission works smoothly. The four-wheel hydraulic brakes work well, the tires are in good condition, and all gauges and lights are in proper working order. The interior was completely restored from carpet to headliner as part of the 1994 restoration. All 6 side windows open as does the windshield—we believe all the original glass in the car was replaced and even the window tracks were swapped out. The thermostatically controlled radiator louvers and all of the limousine’s chrome is perfect.
White Glove Collection has many of the receipts for the restoration work and even the former owner’s notes on when he drove the car, paid for gas, and changed the oil. He evidently made constant notes on everything about his cars, passed that on to his mechanic, and had any issues he found corrected immediately.
Based on our research into the car’s history, it appears it was restored in time for a show in Scottsdale, Arizona on May 1st, 1994 and was driven to the San Ramon CCCA Caravan of which the former owner wrote “No overheating despite delays in Caldecott Tunnel”, he made this entry and said he had driven it 75 miles that day. On May 6, 1996 he drove it to the Hillsborough Concours de’Elegance.
At the time of restoration, the entire interior was replaced with everything new from the carpet to the headliner at a cost in today’s prices of over $10,000. The paint was done in Black Lacquer, and all parts inside and out were given new chrome. Other work done to the car is too numerous to list, but we have all receipts.
Companies involved with the restoration were White Post Auto Restorations, McKee Restorations Services, L&L Antique Auto, Orange County Plating Company, San Jose Plating Works, American Gear & Motor Service, Master Miles Radiator Service, NorthCoast Restoration, Component Finishing Powder Coating, Olson’s Gaskets, Metro Classic Car Rubber Parts, Restoration Specialties & Supply, and Baker Upholstery Works. The cost of restoration work for just the interior, paint and chrome would have likely cost over $40,000 dollars.
History of Graham-Paige Limousines
This 1930 Graham 2nd Series Special Eight Limo was one of the first cars to bear the “Graham” name alone. The first series in 1930 were still known by the make “Graham-Paige,” but the latter half the year the company changed strategy and reserved “Paige” only for its new line of commercial vehicles.
This name change was part of Graham’s effort to stimulate sales and so was the construction of 10 coach-built limousines, of which this car is one of only a few known to survive. Graham was pursuing any idea that might allow it to remain profitable, including entering the luxury coach business. This was both meant to improve Graham’s image through show it could build high-quality coaches, but also through gaining headlines by sales to the famous and powerful.
One of the first of these Limousines was given to someone quite famous and powerful. The Graham brother donated a Type 837 Limousine to Pope Pius XI on November 10th, 1929 to mark the occasion of the conciliation between the Catholic Church and the Italian State. Pius XI used it to travel to the Basilica of St. John Lateran to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination, marking the first time that a pope had left the Vatican after the fall of Rome September 20th, 1870. It is still a part of the Vatican’s coach museum today.
Despite the papal seal of approval, Graham’s experiment with luxury coach building still had room for improvement. Graham’s own Continental engines gave these 134″ wheel-base cars very sluggish performance, so Graham turned to the Auburn Automobile Company. Auburn sold Graham ten Lycoming Straight-Eight engines specially built to Graham’s specifications. These new power plants proved to be sufficient, turning Graham’s limousine into car that both looked and performed beautifully.
These cars are incredibly rare today with only a few models remaining that are original, like this one, remaining today.