1938 Graham 97 Supercharged Cabriolet by Saoutchik

Darin Schnabel ©2017, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Like many advanced American designs of the late 1930s, “The Spirit of Motion” caught on much stronger in avant-garde Europe than in its home country. The finest European coachbuilders took Northrup’s aerodynamic lines as their muse, among them Jacques Saoutchik of Paris. Saoutchik installed custom cabriolet bodywork on several “Sharknose” chassis, of which the car shown here is believed to be one of two existing examples and the only one currently in the United States.

Chassis number 141747 was one of two Saoutchik-bodied Grahams displayed at the 1938 Paris Salon, with this particular car being the more special of the pair, with its cantilevered doors and folding windshield. It was the car displayed on Saoutchik’s stand, where photographs depicted Pierre Saoutchik presenting it to French President Albert François Lebrun. It was shown again at the Faire de Lyon in March 1939, as featured in the Graham factory newsletter The Supercharger.

Following completion of the spectacular restoration, the Graham made its debut at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Its design and restoration were acclaimed, as it became one of the most popular and most photographed cars of the show, and it was awarded Second in Class. It appeared again in 2015 at the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Ontario, Canada, and was even more successful, being judged Best of Show among a field of superlative classics.

Carl Bomstead

Carl Bomstead - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

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