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Graham-Paige Fire Chief’s Car fitted with Woodlites and a Bright Beam Bumper

Updated: The Graham-Paige automobile was introduced in 1927 by the three Graham brothers, Joseph, Robert, and Ray. Their first involvement with motor vehicles was building truck bodies and conversion kits that would turn a Model “T” Ford into a truck in the late teens. In the early twenties, the brothers designed and began to manufacture their own Graham Brothers Truck. After a period of time and following an agreement with the Dodge brothers, the Truck ended up being powered by Dodge four-cylinder engines.

Later in 1925 Dodge bought out the three Graham brothers who then worked in high-level management positions with the automaker. Two years later the Graham’s left Dodge and purchased the Paige-Detroit Motor Company that manufactured the Paige and Jewett automobiles.

The newly designed 1927 model was named the Graham-Paige. The well-made lower to mid-priced six and eight-cylinder models were popular and sold well.

During the 1928 to ’29 production run the Graham-Paige was only offered as a touring car in the 1929 model year and this Fire Chief’s car is a a 1929 Model 629 on a 127″ wheelbase chassis with hydraulic brakes. It is powered by a 190 c.i. Continental L-head six-cylinder engine producing 62 h.p. that was designed by Graham-Paige engineers and backed up by a four-speed Warner transmission.

Based on the palm tree in the background and the similar appearance of this 1928 Chrysler Los Angeles Fire Chief’s Car also fitted with Woodlite headlights it appears this photo was taken in Los Angeles. This Graham-Paige, however, is equipped with a “Bright” front bumper.

Learn more about the Paige and the Graham-Paige here. The photo was found via Keith Sparks.

Update: Thanks to reader Michael E. Keller it is now known that this image is from the Long Beach Fireman’s Historical Museum Photographs Collection in the archives California State University. The unidentified fire chief is standing outside Station No. 3, located at 526 E. Anaheim St. , Long Beach. The station was destroyed in the 1933 earthquake.  The Graham Paige phaeton is a Model 629 with LeBaron coachwork.


17 responses to “Graham-Paige Fire Chief’s Car fitted with Woodlites and a Bright Beam Bumper

  1. From one of the Bright Bumper ads of 1927 in the Feb 4, 2016 link: “As the lights in the “Bright Bumper” are in the ends, directly ahead of the tires, they cause approaching drivers to give wide berth for passing and reduce the possibility of side swiping.”…and yet it never resulted in most car makers doing likewise with any of their front lights for another ten or so years.

  2. In 1906, Long Beach, CA, opened station # 2 at 526 East Anaheim Street. A photo on twitter of L.B. Fire Dept history shows the station and it looks like a match.

  3. Mr. Greenlees, This image is from the Long Beach Fireman’s Historical Museum Photographs Collection held at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Archives and Special Collections
    Collection. The unidentified fire chief is standing outside Station No. 3, located at 526 E. Anaheim St. , Long Beach. The station was destroyed in the 1933 earthquake.  The Graham Paige phaeton is a Model 629 with LeBaron coachwork.

  4. The Long Beach Fire Department commonly installed the “Bright Bumpers” in the late 20’s on the battalion chiefs cars. The Woodlight headlamps were replaced with 1932 Graham headlights in late 1932. The car survived the 1933 earthquake, but it’s whereabouts today are unknown, if it still exists. It would have been 129″ wheelbase “The Big Six” 288.6 CID, 97HP, 4 speed transmission. price would have been in the $2000 range.

  5. Referencing Mr. Keller’s fine Graham-Paige book, the 1928 Model 629 plus First Series ‘1929 Model 629 six cylinder engine displaced 288.6 cubic inches and the wheelbase was 129 inches. The 629 was replaced by the Second Series 1929 827 powered by a Continental 14K straight eight of 322 cubic inches.

    Surviving 629 models must be rare, even more so with a phaeton by LeBaron. Hugo Pfau, who worked for LeBaron, related the task of designing the frontal styling of the new Graham-Paige automobiles assign to him and Roland Stickney.

  6. My first 3 or 4 years were spent in Santa Monica right across the street from FS 2 of the SMFD. I swear I remember them having a Dalmatian that rode along with them at times! Station is still there, but I am pretty sure the Dalmatian and the vehicles at the time are all gone!

  7. I was surprised to see the Bright Beam Bumper was manufactured here in my home town of Warren Ohio, just around the corner from the Packard brothers first factory. I’ve done some searching and asked people in town, but can find no further info on the factory.

    Thank you for enlightening me.

  8. Mr. Greenlees, I have found additional images of this fire chief’s car and would like to send them to you. I don’t believe I can attach these photos to this email. How can I do so? Michael E. Keller

  9. In speaking with car owners at the Geneva (Illinois) Concours, I learned Woodlites looked great but were nearly useless, as they made a tiny sliver of light that barely made it out of the narrow lens. About all they did was let oncoming drivers know you were there, but “they worked fine during the day.” Good thing this Graham-Paige has a Bright bumper! My dad was a volunteer fireman in Morris, Illinois, and I love to see classic fire equipment. The Morris Fire Department had a 1927 American LaFrance pumper that served well until 1976, then it was retired to parade duty and given a professional cosmetic restoration. Dad gave me ride on it when I was 10, and I regard that as a highlight of my childhood. The LaFrance still proudly represents the Morris Fire Department in parades.

  10. GREAT looking car, wow would I like to own this one! Can you imagine what the battery must have been like if all the lights were turned on at once and the siren up front also? It porobably would have melted down into a pile that looked like a massive mound of cohocolate pudding.

  11. Graham Paige offered a few expensive cars. Custom bodied by LeBaron, big eights and 137 inch wheelbase cars, could
    be purchased through the standard catalog. Some reached $4,505. The 1932 Model called the Blue Streak set the
    style of full fenders throughout the industry in 1933. Rarely does one make thoroughly influence style so rapidly. Amos
    Northup and Ray Dietrich were the masterminds. 1932 also saw one of the three Graham Bros. commit suicide. In 1934
    a supercharger was attached to their eight, increasing horsepower from 95 to 135. I had a 96 year old blind mechanic
    working on my cars. He was a Cord factory mechanic when young and complained that he hated working on Graham
    superchargers. He could make a Model T run as smooth and quiet as a Rolls Royce. I miss him.

  12. Back about 1998 or 1999 I was working as a volunteer blacksmith at the Gold Discovery Park in Coloma, California – the site of the 1848 gold discovery that set off the 1849 California Gold Rush. One day a man drove up to the smithy in a vintage car I couldn’t identify. I asked what it was, and he told me it was a Graham, though I didn’t get the year or model. He needed a replacement leaf spring, and they don’t seem to stock them at the local parts store any more.

    The master smith at the forge was an old-timer named Bill. He took a few measurements and told the Graham’s owner to come back in an hour. In that hour he cut a piece of spring steel stock to the correct size, put in a curve, drilled it and heat treated it to a fine spring temper. When the car’s owner came back and asked how much, Bill just gave him the spring and said it was worth it to help keep the old Graham on the road.

    I’ve done a lot of volunteer blacksmithing, but that day was one of the high points.

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