Arts & Culture News

Bonnie and Clyde's Death Car Finds a Home in Gunter. Or Maybe Nevada.


Nearly 81 years ago, on May 23, 1934, two of America's most wanted outlaws met their deaths alongside Highway 154 south of Gibsland, Louisiana. The roar of the guns from the six-member posse lead by Texas lawman Frank Hamer was so loud the lawmen were temporarily deafened. After the 10-second ambush, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, both of Dallas, lay slumped over in their 1934 Ford Fordor Deluxe Sedan with approximately 50 bullet holes between the two bodies and more than 100 shots fired at the car decorating the vehicle.

Over the decades, a few of this type of Ford Sedan have paraded around the country as the "Bonnie and Clyde Death Car," but only two have been narrowed down to possibly be the real thing. One is located in a Primm, Nevada, casino and the other in the hands of Pilot Point resident John Massey.

"The reason I believe this to be the real death car is for a handful of reasons that are attached to this car that are not connected the one in Nevada," Massey says.

"I was able to purchase this car in an estate sale of man who let it set for 25 years. Before then, this was the car that was displayed in the National Crime Museum."

While there is doubt surrounding the authenticity of both cars, Massey has a substantial amount evidence to back his claim of his car being the real deal.

"When Bonnie and Clyde stole this vehicle from its owners, Jesse and Ruth Warren, they painted it a desert sand color over the original color of Cordoba gray to elude the law. When you open the trunk, you can see the original color of the car, Cordoba gray. Under the trunk door, the initials of the Frank Hamer-led posse were scratched on it. The coroner's report backs this up with a description of the car," Massey says. "The one out in Nevada is a dark gray."

Massey further explains that Mrs. Warren was allowed to pick the car up after the investigation. "I have a picture of her getting this car. To me, with her being the owner, she would know her car. Even Ford Motor Company sent a letter of verification wanting possession of this car many years ago."

While Massey provides an astounding case, he has more concrete proof for any remaining naysayers. Two rifles and the .32 caliber pistol that Bonnie slipped Clyde to assist him in a jailbreak came with the car, along with the hat she was wearing during the ambush and a handful of Clyde's personal items, including his shoes from the car, a pocket knife and razors. All come with documentation of authenticity.

Massey does acknowledge the controversy between both cars and although he has viewed the Nevada car, he does feel very confident in his purchase.

"I understand the significance of this car. It's not just an important piece of American history, but the history of Dallas and Texas. My goal is not to be selfish with this car, but to allow for others to have the opportunity to view it as well. Maybe we will be able to display it at the State Fair of Texas this year."

The car is at Hickman Creations, a body shop in Gunter.