IT’S A celebrity endorsement you can’t quite imagine today; a letter written by mass murderer and thief Clyde Barrow – of Bonnie and Clyde fame – to Henry Ford himself, lauding his cars.
“While I still have got breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one,” he wrote, in a wonderful double entendre.
"For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got every other car skinned and even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V-8.”
The letter was written at the height of Clyde’s infamy, in 1934, the same year he would die in a Ford, a 1934 V-8 Deluxe, which ended up so riddled with bullets it looked like something from a Road Runner cartoon.
Despite being heavily suspected of 13 murders and several bank robberies, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow could only be chased by the FBI under the National Motor Vehicle Act, which allowed agents to pursue them across state lines, for stealing a car.
Heavily armed police from Texas and Louisiana eventually cornered the outlaws in an ambush, covering their Ford in a hail of more than 100 armourpiercing bullets of the “don’t even bother coming out with your hands up” variety.
The Deluxe “Death Car” became quite famous, and is certainly a sight to behold. After a lifetime touring county fairs, it was bought in 1988 by the Primm Valley Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for $250,000.
Here’s how the cops saw it: “We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns ...
After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car. We kept s ho oting at the car even after it stopped. We weren't taking any chances.”
Sitting among the pokies, the Bonnie and Clyde Death Car display in Vegas also features Clyde’s bullet-riddled “Death Shir t”, which has been signed by his sister, Marie. Sweet.