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John Volpe, a V-16 Cadillac and the Gangster’s Last Day

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  • John Volpe’s V-16 Cadillac coupe equipped with bulletproof glass being towed away after his death 

During the years of Prohibition in America, a fortune was to be made by those bold enough to take charge of bootlegging in a city. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gangster John Volpe was just such a man, and by 1932, he and his brothers ruled the supply of alcohol in the Steel City and also ran a busy rackets operation.

At the time, the organized machine of ruthless bootleggers also included his brothers James and Arthur (Louis Volpe was serving a few months in Allegheny County Jail on a bootlegging conviction) and half-dozen of the gang’s henchmen. His younger brother Chester Volpe had died the previous New Year’s Eve in a car crash in the city.

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  • Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh near the Allegheny County Courthouse

The set of photos seen in this article are from an outstanding account in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, written by Steve Mellon. In his report of Friday, July 29, 1932, titled MidDay Massacre, he tells an engaging story about the gangster’s operation and the events of John Volpe’s last day; the story starts at noontime when he got a shave and a shoeshine in Frank Manna’s barbershop at 527 Fifth Avenue close to the scene of the above photo.

After leaving Manna’s, Volpe and former numbers racketeer Charles Modarelli, walked a few blocks through the city’s Lower Hill District to the Rome Coffee Shop seen below, at 704 Wylie Avenue. The shop served as a front for his numbers operations. There he and Modarelli parted company and Volpe went inside and met up with his brothers and associates.

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  • The Rome Coffee Shop, at far right, on Wylie Avenue and a 1927 Chevrolet

Shortly afterward Volpe went back outside and was gunned-down by a team of three hit men. Finished with killing the gangster, the trio then entered the shop and brutally shot and killed two of his brothers, James and Arthur. Their job accomplished the gunman emerged and fled the scene in a dark blue Ford sedan. The Volpe brother’s deaths brought the toll to one hundred unsolved gang murders between the years of 1927 and 1932 in Pittsburgh.

You can read a more detailed and very intriguing accounting of the situation then we have the time and space for here at, Pittsburgh: The Dark Years, by Steve Mellon. There you see many more photos and learn more about: Prohibition, both political and police corruption in the city, the aftermath of the killings, the funeral, the Volpe family and the details surrounding the location of dozens of bars, “bawdy houses” and gambling dens.

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Goodwood 72nd Members’ Meeting and the Grover-Williams Trophy Race


At the Goodwood circuit in Southern England, Lord March launched the latest event to be run on the famed racing track, the Members’ Meeting, which was held on the weekend of March 29th and the 30th, 2014. The racing action is open only to members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club and their guests. The event continues on from the 71 club meetings held earlier at Goodwood in the fifties and sixties for members of the British Automobile Racing Club. A full slate of twelve races was presented covering many vintage categories.

The photos shown here are of the Grover-Williams Trophy Race that was staged to celebrate the 90th anniversary of one of the most successful racing cars of all time, the Bugatti Type 35. The race is named in honor of William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams who was very successful behind the wheel of his British Racing Green Type 35. Photographer-filmmaker Stefan Marjoram was there to record the action and today we are featuring his photographs covering this race.

At the Goodwood 72nd Members’ Meeting  you can learn more about this new event. Be sure to view the exciting video below they have produced which will fill you in on all the action during this race along with the results. A visit with Stefan Marjoram will reward you with more of his fine work.

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Posted in Pre-War Contemporary Photos, video | Tagged , , , , , |

Cadillac-LaSalle Automobiles Featured at 2014 CCCA Museum Experience

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    1936 Cadillac V-16 Fleetwood Aero-Dynamic Coupe owned by Bill Parfet

Cadillac-LaSalle automobiles will be featured at the Classic Car Club of America Museum’s 2014 “Experience,” scheduled for Sunday, June 1 on the campus of the Gilmore Car Museum – home of the CCCA Museum.

Both full classic and non-classic Cadillac automobiles built from 1903 to 1962 are welcome. Automobile owners need not be CCCA members to display their cars at the 2014 “Experience.” In addition to Cadillac-LaSalle automobiles, full classics owned by members may be displayed on the show field. Prior to the “Experience” on Sunday, a CCCA Grand Classic will be held on Saturday, May 31. Only full classics owned by members may be displayed at this event.

“For CCCA members—and Cadillac-LaSalle enthusiasts—who have not visited the CCCA Museum and Library recently, this is a great year to do so,” said Howard Freedman, Museum president. “There is really nothing else like it in the world. This is the only museum devoted solely to classic automobiles.”

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  • A 1913 Cadillac Torpedo Touring Car and a 1932 LaSalle Phaeton, both unrestored originals owned by restorer Steve Babinsky will be on display

On Friday, there will be a driving tour and automotive art show. The art show will be held throughout the weekend and will include an introduction to automotive art by artist David Chapple. Sunday events, in addition to the classic automobiles on display, will include a silent auction of unique automobile-related items. A narrated awards-drive-by will take place on Sunday afternoon followed by a post-show farewell supper.

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  • A 1930 Cadillac V-16 Roadster on display at the Gilmore Car Museum

2014 “Experience” attendees can see the CCCA Museum, the Gilmore Car Museum, the H.H. Franklin Museum, the Pierce-Arrow Museum, the Ford Model A Museum and the Tucker Archives, as will all be open. The CCCA Library and the Gilmore Car Museum library are also available by appointment. The CCCA Museum contains not only a fine collection of full classic automobiles but a world class radiator mascot collection.

Applications for the 2014 Grand Experience are available from the CCCA Museum. Visit with the club at www.classiccarclub.org

Posted in Auto photos 1921 - 1942, Pre-War Contemporary Photos | Tagged , , , , , , |