• Jan 18, 2010

John Dillinger's 1930 Ford Model A – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you saw Michael Mann's Public Enemies, the car above may look familiar. It isn't just the same model that the notorious John Dillinger used to escape The Law in one of the most daring shootouts in American history – it's the actual car. And the same one used in the movie.

After robbing banks across the country, Dillinger and his gang took refuge in the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin, on April 22, 1934. When the proprietors alerted law enforcement to their presence, the FBI – led by the legendary Melvin Purvis – arrived on the scene and shot the place up. Dillinger, along with two of his cronies, escaped out the windows into the woods nearby before stumbling upon Robert Johnson driving the Ford Model A coupe you see here. They commandeered the car and the driver along with it, and escaped to Minnesota as Dillinger smashed the rear window and opened fire with his tommy-gun at pursuing law enforcement.

The bullet-ridden car remained in the possession of the Dillinger family for decades until it was carefully and faithfully restored by the producers of Public Enenies for use in the scene depicting the historic chase. Now the coupe will be up for auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, by Barrett-Jackson. Follow the jump for the full story in the press release, and check out the images in the gallery below.



[Source: Barrett-Jackson]
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PRESS RELEASE

THE 1930 FORD "MODEL A" THAT CARRIED GANGSTER JOHN DILLINGER TO SAFETY WILL CROSS THE BARRETT-JACKSON BLOCK IN SCOTTSDALE
  • 1930 Ford Model A that John Dillinger used in an escape to be sold at Barrett-Jackson at No Reserve
  • The car also starred in the recent blockbuster "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp
  • The Model A (Lot #1309) includes meticulous documentation from the current owner
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Jan. 4, 2010 - The 1930's Ford Model A (Lot #1309) used by the notorious gangster John Dillinger and later in the blockbuster 2009 movie about his life, will be sold at No Reserve during the 39th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale on Jan. 18-24, 2010 at WestWorld. The Ford, which carried "Public Enemy" number one to safety in 1934 while Dillinger sprayed pursing cops with his Tommy gun, will cross the block as the world watches on SPEED.
1930's Ford Model A (Lot #1309)

"While Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson were media celebrities, none were more famous than John Dillinger," said Barrett-Jackson Chairman/CEO Craig Jackson. "His daring robberies and hold ups fed the nation's hunger for sensationalist news. His ability to elude capture and escape by using fast, reliable cars with seeming impunity made him a folk hero."

Dillinger and his gang raged throughout Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin during the Great Depression. One of Dillinger's most memorable escapes took place at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, Wis. on April 22, 1934. Dillinger, Homer Van Meter and John "Red" Hamilton, his two top lieutenants, escaped in the 1930 Ford Model A coupe offered at Barrett-Jackson.

"This car is a piece of American gangster history and as much a part of Dillinger's legend as his Tommy guns and Colt automatics," stated Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. "Not only did this particular car get the famous gangster out of a fix with the cops in hot pursuit, it was used in the recent Johnny Depp movie about Dillinger. So it's played an important role in history and cinema emulating history."

After a series of robberies, Dillinger and his gang hid out at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters. The proprietors, Emil and Nan Wanatka, recognized them and managed to tip off the authorities to the gang's location.

Upon arrival, the Feds perforated the Lodge with bullets until Dillinger, Van Meter and Hamilton bailed out of doors and windows, rushing through the woods until they found the Model T nearby. The gangsters politely but firmly commandeered the Ford and its owner, Robert Johnson, to drive it.

Johnson was let out near Park Falls, Wis. The trio of crooks eluded law enforcement and drove to Hastings, Minn., over 200 miles away from the Lodge. There, they were once again identified and fled in a high speed pursuit. Hamilton was fatally shot in the hail of gunfire. Dillinger, it is said, smashed the Ford's rear window with his Thompson and sprayed his pursuers with bullets as he escaped.

Heading for the anonymity of Chicago, they dumped the bullet-riddled Model A in favor of a stolen 1934 Ford V8. Just three months later, Dillinger was killed as he exited the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

Bullet pocked and blood stained, the Ford was impounded by the police. Files from the Division of Investigation (now FBI) identified it as "1930 Ford coupe, 4 cylinder, Model A, Wisconsin license #92652, Motor #2980001."

"The Model A was eventually returned to Johnson who determined that it wasn't worth repairing and parked it for nearly three decades," noted Davis. "The car ended up in the barn of Alfred Love's mother in-law, where Johnson rented a bungalow. Love bought it from Johnson and eventually passed it to his son, Mark, the current owner."

The Ford was carefully restored in 2007 to appear in "Public Enemies", preserving the original bullet holes and dimples under body filler and carefully documenting the original appearance including the upholstery soaked with blood. This car is comprehensively documented with its transfer paperwork, articles, books, before-restoration photographs and a selection of documents copied from the federal files.

"This Ford was at the center of one of the most famous shootouts in gangster history," added Jackson. "It is, more than any automobile and even firearm, identified with Dillinger. It's been owned by only two families since it played a crucial role in the Little Bohemia Lodge escape. The Dillinger Ford Model A coupe would be an incredible addition to a collection, museum or attraction that commemorates the history of Ford, the Model A or American history."
About The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company

The Barrett-Jackson Auction Company was established in 1971 and headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., Barrett-Jackson specializes in providing products and services to classic and collector car owners, astute collectors and automotive enthusiasts around the world. The company produces the "World's Greatest Collector Car Auctions™" in Scottsdale, Palm Beach, Fla., Las Vegas, and Orange County, Cali. Barrett-Jackson also endorses a one-of-a-kind collector car insurance offering for collector vehicles and other valued belongings. For more information about Barrett-Jackson, visit www.barrett-jackson.com or call (480) 421-6694.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      C C RYDER 39
      • 4 Years Ago
      all b/s here me thinks == bye the way what ever happened to hitlers car ?? last time i saw it =it was arked next to a building on eddy street in rhode island
      • 4 Years Ago
      Who cares how it was restored, etc. It's f***ing cool anyway!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its history not withstanding, that is one beautiful automobile.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not nearly as cool without the bullet holes
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should have left it in its original condition.
      • 4 Years Ago
      What's "Public Enenies"?
      • 4 Years Ago
      @Curt & punnditt: Noah must not have read the press release. The release states that the car was ditched by Dillinger, impounded by the police, then made it's way back to the Johnson family. From the press release:

      "The Model A was eventually returned to Johnson who determined that it wasn't worth repairing and parked it for nearly three decades," noted Davis. "The car ended up in the barn of Alfred Love's mother in-law, where Johnson rented a bungalow. Love bought it from Johnson and eventually passed it to his son, Mark, the current owner."
        • 4 Years Ago
        HUGE mistake in restoring it. This car had far more value with the original bullet holes and non-repro bits.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Further on the Model A.... a guy on the run in the 30's wouldnt have messed with an A Ford in the first place....unless extremely desperate. There were many better cars around and it was just as easy to steal a 1932 or 33 V8 Ford which could out perform anything the LAW had at the time.
      Some gangster movies show robbers getting off in such as Model T and A Fords... a Both of these cars, which can barely get out of their own way. Much less get away from anyone else.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the car would be worth more unrestored. It's telling that the car is being sold with no reserve.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Reminds me of the movie DILLENGER! by American International, which was filmed in Oklahoma back in 1973. They had trouble finding suitable period cars. In one scene Dillenger escapes Crown Point prison,( the Enid Oklahoma Municipal Auditorium) in a 1927 Air Cooled Franklin.... ha!! We are still laughing about that one... you can see my 1937 Ford Fire Truck in that scene as well. Good flick available on DVD.
      Jon Kaufmann
      • 4 Years Ago
      Aeromax; nice catch on the misspelling.

      As for the conditioning question of bullet holes or not, I would want the holes there only if I were never going to drive the car. Something about driving a car with bullet holes is odd to me. (By the way, I don't drive, but love old cars.)
      • 4 Years Ago


      Shouldn't the car belong to the Johnson family ?

      Dillinger stole it.
        Bob
        • 4 Years Ago
        Read the press release...it has the answer!
      Bryce
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why honor the coward John Dilinger? He was a crook who had no qualms about killing innocent people.
        arnbridgers
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bryce
        I agree. What a role model for our kids who are passionate for old cars
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