History of the Warren Car (Bonnie and Clyde Death Car)

 

I'm interested in what ever happened to the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car.  Do you have any additional information on it's history?   Derek Wilson, LA Calif.

The car was a 1934 Ford Model 730 Deluxe Sedan (Fordor) which belonged to Ruth and Jesse Warren. They had recently purchased the car and it had been sitting in their driveway. Ruth, who had been doing dishes looked out of the window and noticed that the car was missing.  Ruth thought  that her husband had driven it to the house of a neighbor, she called him and he said that he hadn't taken the car. The car was stolen on April 29, 1934.

 

On May 23, 1934 the posse had been waiting for approximately seven hours when at about 9:10 a.m. they heard a machine approaching at a high rate of speed. It is not clear whether the officers stepped into the road to challenge them. But when the car stopped they were told to give up. They reached for their guns but never had a chance to use them. The posse opened fire, the car leaped ahead and came to a stop in a ditch beside the road. The firing continued after the car came to a stop.

The officers had pump 167 rounds into the car, approaching it with care. They found Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow dead. Fifty rounds had smashed into their bodies. Some through the driver's door hitting Clyde passing through him and then through Bonnie and out the passenger door. The fingers on Bonnie's right hand had been shot off. Her left hand was clutching a bloody pack of cigarettes. She died with her head slumped between her legs, with a gun across her lap. Bonnie was 23 years old, Clyde 24. It looked as if Bonnie had just gotten her hair permanent waved.

Inside the 1934 Ford, Hamer found the following items, 1 saxophone, 3 Browning automatic rifles, 1 10 gauge Winchester lever action, 1 sawed-off shotgun, 1 20 gauge sawed-off shotgun, 1 Colt 32 caliber automatic, 1 Colt 45 caliber revolver, 7 Colt automatic pistols, and approximately 3,000 rounds of ammunition. They found license plates from Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Indiana, Kansas, Ohio and Louisiana

After the ambush Mrs. Ruth Warren arrived in Bienville Parish to claim her car.  Sheriff Henderson Jordan refused to release the car to her, claiming that she would have to pay $15,000 to get it back. Hiring attorney W.D.Goff from Arcadia to represent her.

Goff claimed that by Jordan setting the value of the car over $3,000, the case would surely wind up in Federal Court. Because of Sheriff Jordan's refusal to comply, Federal Judge Benjamin Dawkins threatened to send the sheriff to jail, if he did not return the car to Mrs. Warren.

She finally get her car back, and drove it to Shreveport, Louisiana.  From there the car was taken by truck, back to Topeka, Kansas, where it sat in her driveway for several days.

 

Ruth leased the car to John Castle of "United Shows" and when the contract went into default, she had the car repossessed and rented it to carnival operator Charles Stanley. He exhibited it on the Hennies Brothers Midways in his 1939 crime show. Stanley used the car on his outside bally and showed the film of the actual ambush on the inside. After Ruth divorced her husband Jesse, she kept the title to the car and sold it to Stanley for $3,500.  It had been said that Charles was the original owner of the Death Car. During the 1948 season the car was exhibited at Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati, Ohio. Charles joined the Cavalcade of Amusements at Sedalia, Mo. He added a Dillinger Crime Car and toured with the Gooding Amusements and Hennies Brothers Shows.  In 1951 Stanley toured the Mosser Family Massacre through theaters.  Spent a short time at the Coney Island in Cincinnati.  Later joining the Cetlin and Wilson Shows for the season.  In a 1952 Billboard he offered the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car for sale. That same season he retired from the road to manage the Coney Island Park in Cincinnati and exhibited the car until 1960.  Ted Toddy purchased the car in 1960 for $14,500. The car then sat in a warehouse for years  In 1971 Toddy leased his car to the Royal American Shows.

 

In 1973 the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car was purchased by Peter Simon of the Oasis Casino in Jean Nevada for $175.000.  It was on display at Whiskey Pete's Casino for several years and is now on permanent display at the Primm Hotel and Casino at Primm Nevada just of Interstate 15 on the Nevada and California Stateline.

 

Even after 70 years the legend still holds a strange fascination.   John Robinson, Sideshow World

 

Some information and assistance compiled from: History of the Warren Car, Al Stencell's Seeing is Believing and the FBI report on the death of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
 

 

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