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Vintage Women and the Automobile No. III

About once every six months or so, we do a special feature called: Vintage Women and the Automobile and this time a few airplanes have been included. In No. III we have no special theme other than the the twenty-eight photos taken here in America, the UK, and Europe date from the teens’ and up through to the thirties and in one case possibly postwar.

Tell us what famous women you may see here and identify any of the cars if you can. You can also see well over one-hundred other posts showing women’s involvement with the automobile here. Many of these photos originate from Vintage Women.




























32 responses to “Vintage Women and the Automobile No. III

  1. The second photo of the woman with her foot on the small plane’s boarding step is Katherine Hepburn, probably during the late 1930s when she was close to Howard Hughes.

    • And I’m pretty sure the smiling female pilot is Elinor Smith Sullivan, known for making several flying records (endurance, altitude, and speed) along with her work as a test pilot.

      She was also the first woman to fly under all four NYC East River suspension bridges – at age 17.

      • No , not Elinor Smith (Sullivan), I knew her well when she lived here on long island before relocating to California for the remainder of her long life. She was quite the feisty lady you read about, you were never in any doubt about she stood on a subject. She was one of the most fascinating people I ever met and had the privilege to get to know over numerous dinners with other long island aviation pioneers. To hear her tell about the flight under all the East river bridges in person was amazing. Very dangerous to do because of the severe wind conditions.

  2. I think that’s Sonny Bono in the 3rd picture. The cars were harder and I only got the obvious ones Lincoln (7) Mercedes-Benz (9 & 24), LaSalle (10) Cadillac (11) Peerless (23)

    • If Gloria Swanson, what’s she doing in Berlin? That’s a Berlin Registration number on the car and the Wannsee in the background.

  3. The car in image #8, with California license plate D130, is a Lincoln Model L roadster. I can’t name the model, although she looks vaguely familiar.

  4. I believe the aircraft in the second photo is a Junkers F13 and the ninth photo shows Marvel Crosson standing in front of
    a Ryan Brougham.

  5. I think No.6 could be Diana Davidson, Lex Davidson’s Widow who later married Tony Gaze.
    I read in Tony’s biography she drove one of the SSK Mercs & it does look like her.

  6. The final picture is Miss Dorothy Patten (Baroness Dorndorf) with her rare 1938 Peugeot 402 Légère Darl’mat Spécial Sport (designed by Marcel Pourtout), pictured in London in May 1939. The car was campaigned extensively before and after the war. It was discovered a few years ago in poor shape, rotting in a garden in Sussex, and is being restored.

  7. The 16th picture from the top is “Flying Fay” Taylour, sitting in her car and checking her make-up. Irish-born Fay Taylour was a Speedway champion in both England and Australia the 1920’s. She switched to cars in the 1930’s after women were banned from Speedway riding in England. Unfortunately, her Fascist sympathies led to her being interned during WW2. Returning to racing after the war, she ended her career racing a 500cc Cooper in the 1950’s.

  8. I have no idea how I pulled the name out of that dusty attic between my ears. However I think photos number two and number fifteen are both Constance Bennett, an actress from the silent era clear up into the early ’60s. I don’t recognize either car. A few others look familiar from early movies (another passion I used to have), but I cannot quite place them.
    I count three Mercedes Benz automobiles. No two of the cars are the same car, unless there was an extensive remodel between the photos. By my count, they are photos numbers 6, 11, and 26. The lady in photos numbers 6 and 26 could be the same.
    Photo number 25 says Peerless on the tire cover. Probably an eight cylinder. The actress’s name is on a plate on the front of the car. Lupe Valez was an average, fairly successful, actress better known for her wild lifestyle and failed romances. In 1944, with an also failing career, and wanting more than anything else, to be remembered, she decided to be remembered for her suicide. This may be the wrong site for those details, so I won’t give them here. But if you ever hear them, you will never forget her.

    Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2

  9. That photo of Mercedes VS-6412 really resonates with me – it just sets me back in my chair. Not the first time a period photo of these sporting Mercedes has done that either. In fact the most recent one was in another of the collections of celebrities and cars (can’t seem to generate a search term to turn it up). There’s something about those tremendous lines & proportions, and the way the rear wheel so flawlessly fills the concentric fender, and the no-nonsense road wear and haze on the tires, and the perspective angle of the photographer – a superb image.

    • It could be a German license plate. The VS prefix currently refers to Villingen-Schwenningen in Baden-Württemberg, but in the late ’30s, a period that matches the clothing in this photo, it appears to have stood for Provinz Starkenburg (Bensheim, Darmstadt, Dieburg, Erbach, Groß-Gerau, Heppenheim, Offenbach). Unfortunately this example of a Provinz Starkenburg VS plate


      shows a variety of small visual differences from VS-6412.

    • The Peerless in the photo 4th from the end does not have the ’25-’28 rad shell, nor the ’30-’32 hood sides, so must be a 1929 Model Eight-125. Full Classic, 322 Cu. In. straight 8 /1,154 built,/6 or 7 in existence, TTBOMK.

      • Or it could be a 1929 Model Six-81 Peerless Sedan with wire wheels/dual side-mounts as options. Not long enough to be an Eight-125.

  10. These is what I’ve found so far:

    2: Clara Bow – Rolls Royce
    3: Photo by YVA (Else Neuländer-Simon)
    4:1923 Willys Knight
    5: Ernes Merck – Mercedes Benz SS
    6: Irene Castel
    8: Lincoln
    9: Marvel Crosson standing in front of a Ryan Brougham aircraft
    10: Hungarian actress Doraine Lucy – Mercedes Benz K with Berlin license plates
    13: French actress Janine Darcy
    14: Anita Page – Mercedes Benz?
    15: Fay Taylour
    16: Katherine Hepburn in “Christopher Strong” 1933 RKO film
    17: Margot Burke – 1920 Standard SLO – picture by Emil Otto Hoppé
    19: Dorothy Devore – Buick Brougham
    20: Pearl White
    21: 1928 Cadillac
    22: Billie Dove – Cadillac? Town Car
    24: Lupe Velez – Peerless
    25: 1928 Mercedes Benz S680 Sports Tourer by Erdmann & Rossi
    26: 1937 Chevrolet sedan
    27: Miss Patten (Baroness Dorndorf) and her Darl’Mat Peugeot outside Tom Knowles’ garage

  11. Sad to realize that every one of those beautiful women are either dead or in a nursing home somewhere. Bet the cars lasted a lot longer — assuming somebody cared.

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