1932-1935 Graham Blue Streak

1932 and 1933 Graham Blue Streak
A single-shade example of the 1932 Graham Blue Streak Model 58 Six convertible coupe
A single-shade example of the 1932 Graham Blue Streak Model 58 Six convertible coupe
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Everything possible was done to make the new 1932 Graham Blue Streak look like a single unit instead of an assemblage of parts.

To this end, the low-set, tapered headlamp shells were lacquered to match the body color. On 1932 and 1933 Graham Blue Streak models, even the frames were painted to match the fenders, which in turn were often painted to match the body -- although black fenders (with black frames) remained standard, typical of the period.

A few selected two-tones were optional, with the top, fenders, sidemount covers, headlamps, and moldings rendered in a subtly darker variant of the overall body color.

And some of these paint jobs were spectacular because the company was among the first to experiment with "pearl essence finish." As a Graham Confidential Service Bulletin explained it, pearl essence was "a compound of crystalline gaunin properly suspended in a lacquer vehicle. Gaunin is a product of protein metabolis of animal bodies and is found in the skin of certain species of fish, small particles adhering to the scales when removed. The crystals are washed away from the scales and put through a special purifying process."

So, during 1932 and 1933, you could order your Graham Blue Streak painted in the byproduct of fish scales.

But handsome as the bodies and paints were, it was the fenders that put the Graham Blue Streak ahead of the pack. Just as the graceful "flying wing" fender was reaching its zenith, the Blue Streak suddenly -- like a bolt out of the blue -- illuminated the way ahead. Up front, this new Graham's fender surfaces were deeply drawn down to the bumper to conceal the frame and axle.

To conceal the messy, usually mud-spattered undercarriage in side view, vertical valence panels or "skirts" were incorporated and, to enhance the effect of wholeness, the fender surfaces were kept one-piece and smooth, without distracting detail, while their edges were gently rolled inward. The skirted fenders caught other automakers unaware, causing most to work frantic overtime to incorporate the new-style fenders on their 1933 offerings.

The Graham Blue Streak Model 57 Custom Eight topped the 1933 Graham second-series lineup. Other car makers were still scrambling to catch up with the modern skirted-fender styling.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

None, however, had the panache of the Graham Blue Streaks, which when painted, say, a Golden Tan Pearl Essence, exhibited a truly striking appearance in traffic. They stood out vividly amid the gaggle of square, upright, usually black sedans and coupes, which were now rendered stylistically obsolete.

The new Grahams, unquestionably the style leaders of 1932 and 1933, were the work of Amos Northup, design director for the Murray Corporation of America, one of the leading independent body builders of the day and supplier of Graham body and fender stampings. Murray -- like Briggs, Budd, and Hayes -- offered a design service to clients like Graham who were too small to employ a full-time styling operation.

Perhaps surprisingly, considering their roots, the Grahams, who backed Northup's ideas, were quite style-minded, at least in their cars. For the design of the radiator, hood, fenders, and sedan body of their first car in 1928, the brothers had commissioned no less than the LeBaron Studios of the Briggs Manufacturing Company.

For the Blue Streak, they turned to Murray and Northup, whose previous credits included the 1928 Hupp Century, 1929 Willys-Knight Great Six (known for its "plaidside" roadster), and the magnificent 1931 Reo Royale.

Details on the Graham Blue Streak were allegedly handled by Ray Dietrich, inasmuch as Dietrich, Incorporated, was a Murray subsidiary. Also assisting was William H. Neely, Graham's chief body engineer, who worked closely with Northup.

Learn more about the Blue Streak's innovative interior design on the next page.

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