By Ace Zenek. Almost three years ago The Old Motor posted photos of the highly ornamented Auburn of Lawrence Grayson and told the facts known about the car. Searching through old magazines and newspapers we now know that he had at least three other cars which he embellished with large numbers of interesting features. Also located was the list of 41 extras that he put onto his fourth accessorized car (the Auburn) as well as some additional details about the development of this car and about Grayson.
- Dashboard of Grayson’s Auburn Speedster shows the wide variety of accessory equipment he installed.
Moving onto the Auburn Speedster, the “periscope,” previously mentioned in The Old Motor feature, was simply a vertical attachment to the right fender. This was a parking aid to indicate the location of the right fender. It was definitely not any type of naval periscope. Other equipment not listed in the attached legend for the Auburn included license plate frames, radiator grille, door monogram, outside exhaust, exhaust horn, a searchlight, mud-flaps, running board courtesy lights, and door armrests.
The Auburn roadster started out as a wreck which Grayson stated he purchased for $100. He relayed that with all of the work that he had done, and all of the accessories added, he now valued the auto at $3,000. He also professed that he hoped that he would be able to find additional items to place on the car. I created a diagram and legend (above) from the previously published photo.
- Exterior of Grayson’s 1929 Chandler Six “65” coupe shows its external accessories.
The first of these newly discovered autos is a 1929 Chandler Six “65” coupe. The Chandler name can be seen diagonally on the crest just above the thermostatic radiator shutters. At the bottom of the radiator, just visible, are the vertical chrome lines of the Chandler’s grille as well as the unique starting crank hole access cover. The front bumper is a standard Chandler feature as is the central dash panel in the photo of the dashboard. This was Chandler’s final year of production as Hupp bought out the firm, and it then discontinued the marque.
- Accessories added to the Chandler dashboard, header panel and right front door.
The total number of accessories fitted on the Chandler is not provided by Grayson for this vehicle, but at least 32 are highlighted in the accompanying photos and text and even more can be seen. Grayson stated the cost was $400 for all of the enhancements. Two pieces in the interior of interest are the revolver and tear gas gun. Let’s hope these never had to be actually used. Grayson also added an altimeter on the interior covering behind the drivers door.
- An under hood image of the Chandler showing added cables, wiring, hot air heater and accessories.
The photo of the engine bay shows how much extra wiring there was with all of the accessories that needed power. A second battery and generator were fitted to help supply the additional power required to run them all. The L-head six-cylinder engine had 55 horsepower (23.4 rated), 195.5 cubic inches, a three main bearing crankshaft, and a 5.0 to 1 compression ratio. The weight of the coupe was 2,635 pounds, and the list price was $875.00.
A Westinghouse brake booster was optional on the “65” Series cars to assist in the application of the four wheel mechanical brakes. The One-Shot chassis lubrication system and Lovejoy shock absorbers were also optional. Standard features included twin-beam headlights, electric clock, dome light, automatic windshield wipers, and an engine thermometer on the dashboard.
- Windsor White Prince Victoria Coupe of the type Grayson fitted with 76 accessories.
The second car that came to light is a very rare Victoria Coupe made by Windsor in either 1929 or 1930. The name White Prince of Windsor was used for the company name until Buckingham Palace objected. This was one of the companies owned by Moon, along with Diana (already folded in 1929) and Ruxton, but none of these firms, including Windsor, would survive through the end of 1930.
Grayson claimed 76 accessories for the Windsor, but freely admitted that only 52 were easily visible. All of these gadgets cost him $575 plus another $100 for installation, but a later article claimed the cost of accessories had risen to $650. This car also had a second battery and generator fitted. The full list of accessories is presented in the newspaper article (below), but not every component is shown in the photo.
- Some of the 76 accessories Grayson added to the Windsor White Prince.
In 1931 writer Dan Thomas, when describing the Windsor, stated that Grayson had started installing all of these bells and whistles four years previously. Since the Chandler and the Windsor were not built until the 1929 model year, this means there must have been another car that he similarly decorated starting around 1927. The identity of this car remains unknown.
Most articles show Grayson lived in Los Angeles, California where he worked for the American Educational Society though one author noted he was employed by the National Academy of Music in New York. Either way, his sales territory was on the west coast where he never ventured farther east for his job than Colfax, New Mexico.
His travels meant he spent 30,000 miles a year on the road. He also had a home in Boston where he spent his summers. In addition to his car embellishments he competed in speed boat races and enjoyed flying private planes. He had a wife, but her name was not given in any of the many articles. Copyright © Ace Zenek, 2015
- July 5, 1931 Windsor-Cedar Rapids Sunday Gazette and Republican article describes Windsor additions.