In 1927 brothers Joseph, Robert and Ray Graham purchased the ailing Paige-1 Detroit Motor Car Company. New Graham-Paige models initially did well, with a growing reputation for quality and around 73,000 cars shifted in Year One.
The Paige part of the name was dropped for 1930, though trouble loomed for Graham as the Great Depression started to take fierce hold. Sales slumped and a new model, optimistically christened the Prosperity Six, singularly failed to live up to its name.
But the company continued to compete hard for market share, with a sensational design by Amos Northup and superb straight- eight engine introduced in 1932. This was christened ‘Blue Streak’, a title that so caught the public imagination that it was soon attached to cars powered by the new engine. The vehicles themselves were also technically advanced, with features like a clever ‘banjo’ chassis frame and side-mounted suspension that would eventually be copied by other manufacturers as late as the mid-1950s. Other novel ideas included enclosed mudguards and a radiator cap beneath the bonnet. Blue Streaks were (and still are) great to drive with terrific road holding and a smooth engine.
These innovative machines represented a significant milestone in automotive history; their appearance set the trend for a decade of auto design as rival manufacturers scrambled to follow Graham’s lead. First-series Blue Streaks came as sedans, three-window coupes and convertible coupes – a markedly limited choice compared to the likes of Ford – but could be distinguished by pearlescent paint jobs in striking colors. Models proliferated and a supercharger was added to boost performance (and hopefully sales) in 1934, but a revamp in 1935 proved disastrous, spoiling the sleek look of the car and seeing the end of the Blue Streak line, which ultimately failed to halt Graham’s steady decline.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1932 (until 1935)
4.0 L (245 cid) Straight Eight
Supercharged versions reached 90 mph (145 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Despite their increasing commercial problems throughout the decade, Graham produced more supercharged cars during the 1930s than all the other US car manufacturers combined.