the view through the windshield
1941 Graham Hollywood Sedan: The Body That Killed Three Car Companies

joe sherlock car drawing

Every car buff remembers the classic, coffin-nosed 1936-37 Cord 810/812. Most picture in their minds the stunning convertible version. But there was also a sedan version - the Westchester. It was made in much smaller quantities and is not often seen - even in museums.

The 810/812 series was the last gasp of the dying Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg empire - another casualty of the Great Depression. The cars which might have saved ACD were never properly developed and the firm didn't have the resources to work out production bugs and meet demand.

Automaker Hupmobile rummaged through ACD's ashes and, in 1938, purchased the Cord body tooling at the bargain basement price of $45,000. Ditching the front-wheel drive and balky transmission then adding a new, shorter nose on the front (John Tjaarda was reportedly paid $50 to design it), Hupmobile introduced the new Skylark sedan at the 1939 New York Auto Show. Over 6,000 orders were placed. But Hup was unable to deliver most, because of the poor state of the Cord tooling (the roof of the car required seven separate stampings) and its own precarious financial position.

Enter Graham Paige. The radically-styled Graham Sharknose was a market failure and G-P needed to replace it quickly. Graham took over production of the ex-Westchester sedan, making Hupmobile Skylarks and Graham Hollywoods on the same assembly line. Production began in earnest in May 1940. The exteriors had only minor trim differences but Graham and Hupmobile models had different powertrains.

The '41 Graham Hollywood was powered by a 124 horsepower supercharged six. At 2,965 pounds riding on a 115 inch wheelbase, it had one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any American production car. 0-60 times were less than 15 seconds and the Hollywood had a top speed of over 100 miles per hour. Although at 191 inches, it was shorter than the Cord sedans, its low height for the period (61") made it appear long and sleek.

Unfortunately, the public didn't bite. Only a small number of these cars were produced. Hup called it quits in the summer of 1940; Graham pressed on, introducing an improved '41 model and adding an unblown Hollywood priced at just $968. But, it was to no avail; Graham finally gave up the auto business in September 1940 after a short run of 1941 models.

Record keeping was sloppy but experts guesstimate that 320-380 Skylarks and 1,400-1,800 Hollywoods were produced.

Growing up in the early postwar era, I observed lots of prewar automobiles on the street. But I've never seen a Hupmobile Skylark or Graham Hollywood outside of a museum. (posted 2/28/11)

Remember When: 1941
auto blogIn 1941, the carving of Mount Rushmore was completed. The fourth Thursday in November was officially designated as Thanksgiving Day. Germany defeated Greece and Yugoslavia. Soon, it invaded the USSR. Nazi aircraft sunk a Russian hospital ship killing 7,000. The British sunk the German battleship, the Bismark. FDR was sworn in for his third term as U.S. president.

The U.S. began to prepare for war; rationing was initiated and the first Liberty Ship was launched. Roosevelt signed the Lend Lease Act, providing military aid to the Allies. The first tank rolled off Chrysler's Army Tank Arsenal production line on April 24th. Winston Churchill addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress about the War in Europe. Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. In December, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

In Germany, Konrad Zuse developed the Z3 - the world's first electronic, fully programmable digital computer based on a binary floating-point number and switching system. The Z3 computer was the first machine to be controlled by software. Plutonium was discovered at U.C. Berkeley.

By the '41 model year, running boards on U.S. passenger cars had mostly disappeared. The four-millionth Plymouth was delivered to a dealer and the 29 millionth Ford was produced. In 1941, the five-millionth Dodge was built - a four-door sedan.

Henry Ford dramatically unveiled his soybean-based experimental plastic to the public by attacking the plastic trunk of a Ford with an axe. Chrysler commenced production of the luxurious Town & Country woody wagon. Buick offered the first four-barrel carburetor - actually a compound carb set-up - on its Fireball straight-eight engine. Hydra-Matic Drive was now offered on both Cadillacs and Buicks. It soon would be used in tanks.

Chrysler introduced two dream cars in 1941, the two-seat, retractable hardtop Thunderbolt and the Newport - an open parade phaeton. One of the Newports was the pace car at the 1941 Indianapolis 500. Los Angeles got its first freeway, connecting LA & Pasadena.

auto sketch blog

The Union Pacific Big Boy, the largest steam locomotive in the world, entered freight service in 1941. The 4-8-8-4 articulated loco and tender were almost 133 feet in length, weighed 762,000 pounds and produced 6,290 horsepower.

Big record hits - sold in the form of large, 10-inch diameter, mineral-filled shellac 78 rpm recorded discs - included 'Duke Ellington's Take the A Train, 'Frenesi' by Artie Shaw and his orchestra, The Andrews Sisters' 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy' and 'Racing with the Moon' by Vaughn Monroe.

There were several notable 1941 movies: 'Citizen Kane', 'Dumbo', 'How Green Was my Valley', W.C. Fields' 'Never Give A Sucker An Even Break' and 'The Maltese Falcon'. Bugs Bunny made his silver screen debut in 'A Wild Hare.' The first commercial television license was granted a NYC station in '41.

According to Life magazine, 1941 fads included campus blanket parties and floppy hats. In horse racing, Whirlaway won the Triple Crown.

Quite a few famous folks were born in '41: Paul Anka, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, Pete Rose and journalist George Will.

Deaths included novelist James Joyce, auto pioneer Louis Chevrolet, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, French tire magnate Andre Michelin, NY Yankee Lou Gehrig and jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton.

In sports, Joe DiMaggio achieved a 56 consecutive game hitting streak. The New York Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning the World Series in five games.

More AutoSketch car drawings can be found here.
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The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

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