WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING The Graham brothers were involved in vehicle manufacturing through the early 20th century, yet the Graham-Paige branded cars were produced only from 1928 to 1931 after the purchase of another auto maker, the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company. "In magazine ads of the day, the Graham-Paige was often compared to the Auburn, Buick, Marmon, Chrysler and Reo, to name a few," Ray Lignowski says. "The base six-cylinder coupe started at $845 (double the price of a nicely optioned Ford) and could run as high as $4,500 for a long-wheelbase, seven-passenger, eight-cylinder model." Innovative standard features, he says, included laminated safety glass, Lockheed hydraulic brakes (most cars were still using cable brakes), height-adjustable foot pedals, externally adjustable oil pressure, oil level gauge and an externally adjustable timing chain.
HOW LONG THEY'VE OWNED IT Since the summer of 1998
WHERE THEY FOUND IT The Lignowskis found their car in South Dakota as "nothing more than a rusty shell and chassis," he says. "But it was the same year, make and model of the car that my grandparents had when they met and were married. I even had some pictures of them in the car in Brooklyn in 1933." They drove to South Dakota and brought the sedan home by trailer.
CONDITION "I began that October of '98 what is still a continuing restoration," Lignowski says. "I had to get two dead motors to combine the good parts of both to make one running one." He found a lot of the car's missing trim online or through the Graham-Paige Club. The wood body frame was rebuilt, the car was painted and period-correct accessories were added. "The next project," he says," is to learn how to sew and complete the interior with the correct Belgian mohair fabric."
TIPS FOR OWNERS "If you own one," Lignowski advises, "most likely you are the only one on the block and, possibly, your town. Tune-up parts can still be had from a good old auto parts store as the Graham-Paige motor was used for commercial applications in things like forklifts right up until the 1960s."
VALUE "You can buy a nice 'driver' for $5,000 to $7,000, or go as high as you want to go," he says. "The cars are rare, but the demand just isn't what it used to be."
THE BOTTOM LINE
"Nothing can beat the feeling of knowing when I'm behind the wheel, it is exactly the view and feeling my grandfather had 79 years ago, motoring around Brooklyn in his Graham," Lignowski says. The couple can often be seen driving around Long Island, New York on a Sunday with their twins, Samantha and Tyler. "It's as close as we can get now to the good ol' days."