Exactly 83 years ago, at 9.15am on May 23rd, 1934, the notorious Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down in a police ambush as they were driving a stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe near Sailes, Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
Immortalized in Arthur Penn’s 1967 Oscar-winning film, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde are still considered the most famous gangster couple in history. Their story goes back to the height of the Great Depression when they met for the first time and entered a world of crime.
It was 1932 when Bonnie and Clyde began a crime spree that lasted for 21 months and resulted in 13 deaths. In addition to this, they committed several bank robberies, burglaries, kidnappings, and automobile thefts. However, May 23rd, 1934, was not their lucky day as they were killed by the police in a hail of bullets. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow had no chance of survival and died as they lived, by the gun.
While the story of Bonnie and Clyde ends here, the 1934 Ford Model, 730 Deluxe Sedan in which the outlaws were killed, became an instant celebrity after the police had returned it to its original owner.
The criminal couple stole the now famous 1934 Ford Deluxe from Ruth Warren of Topeka, Kansas. She bought the car for $835 (15,000 in today’s worth) in March 1934 and in April it was already stolen by Bonnie and Clyde. One month later, the car reappeared, but it had over 160 bullet holes and was stained with Bonnie and Clyde’s blood.
No wonder the car had so many bullet holes since each of the six officers that ambushed the notorious couple had an automatic rifle, shotgun, and a pistol. The officers emptied all of their weapons and, since they knew who they were dealing with, they even kept shooting at the car after it had stopped.
The 160 bullet holes and the duo’s blood were just a tiny problem for the owner of the car. When Ruth Warren went to reclaim her stolen car she was shocked to find out that she had to pay $15,000 to get it back. At least that was what the local Sheriff, named Henderson Jordan, told her. Warren decided to sue, so she hired an attorney, named W.D. Goff, to represent her and with his help, she managed to win the case and finally get her car back.
In the years that followed, the car was leased several times, and it was displayed at the Topeka Fairgrounds. In 1945, it was sold for $3,500 (nearly $50,000 in today’s money) to Charles Stanley, who used the death car as a sideshow attraction at his traveling carnival. Stanley even brought the car to the Nevada race track where he allowed people to sit inside it for the price of 1 dollar.
When Stanley retired in 1960, he sold the famous car to Ted Toddy for $14,500 (nearly $120,000 in today’s worth), and he also had to sue a man named Johnny Portemont to prove that the car he owned was the 1934 Ford Deluxe in which Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow died. He won the case, and the court prohibited Johnny Portemont from exhibiting any other car except Toddy’s car as the “true” Bonnie and Clyde death car.
The death car again changed its owner in 1977 when Toddy sold it for $175,000 ($725,000 in today’s worth) to Peter Simon II, who displayed it at his casino Pop’s Oasis in Nevada. About ten years later, the casino closed and he sold the car to the owners of Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada.
The infamous Bonnie and Clyde death car has been touring across the country for the past 30 years, but, mostly, it remained in the lobby of Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada, where it can be found today. The car is not the only Bonnie and Clyde artifact that can be seen at Whiskey Pete’s where visitors can also see Clyde’s bloodstained shirt which he wore the day he died.
The display is open to the public, and the admission is free. If you decide to go there and see it, be well prepared because it will give you chills down your spine.