Where Is the Real Bonnie and Clyde Car?
Jan 19, 2022 · 4 min read
The legend of Bonnie and Clyde and their car has lasted longer than anyone probably expected. The story of the murderous, thieving couple dates back to the Great Depression, but for some reason, it still sparks the American imagination.
One relic of the twosome’s crime-spree is the bullet-riddled Ford V8 Fordor Deluxe they were killed in by the FBI. Normally on display at Whiskey Pete’s Hotel & Casino in Primm, Nevada, the car is currently part of an exhibit in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
“FBI - From Al Capone to Al-Qaeda” covers the whole history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from its formation by President T. Roosevelt in 1906 to the present day. But few items in the exhibit have a story as long and twisted as Bonnie and Clyde’s Death Car.
What makes the Bonnie and Clyde car such a wonder?
You could write a whole book about the public reaction to Bonnie and Clyde’s string of robberies and murders. A product of its time and a precursor to our current fixation on true-crime dramas, the couple’s story shocked and intrigued many before and after they met their gruesome end.
Once the infamous ‘34 Fordor Deluxe was returned to its rightful owner, Motorious says it ended up in the hands of a carnival owner. The car gained so much attention and so much money for the owner that replicas began popping up across the country.
It took a great deal of effort to authenticate the one owned by Whiskey Pete’s Casino, and all the verification letters are normally on display with the car, along with Clyde’s blood-spattered “death shirt,” signed by his sister. Lovely.
Bonnie and Clyde’s car: the 1934 Ford Model 40B Fordor Deluxe
If you do a little digging, finding the official name of Bonnie and Clyde’s “death” car is a little complicated. In many places, it’s simply referred to as a Ford V8. “V8” obviously indicates the car’s engine, which the automaker began producing two years earlier.
But car enthusiasts won’t be satisfied with such a label. Knowing the engine is all well and good, but what body did it sit in? That’s where the term “Model 40B Fordor Deluxe” comes in. Each Ford vehicle had a model label. Bonnie and Clyde’s was the Model 40B.
The other terms also have their meanings. In 1932, two-door sedans from Ford were labeled Tudors. To riff off the name, the Canadian arm of the company began calling four-door sedans “Fordors.” In five years’ time, the term was being used by the rest of the company as well.
“Deluxe” referred to the higher trim of the car. The 1934 Deluxe trim offered pinstripes on the outside of the car.
Other cars and items in the FBI exhibit
Few criminals have gained as much attention by the public as Bonnie and Clyde, but there are others. Many of their stories and the investigations into their illegal activities make appearances in the current exhibit on display in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
Besides the real Bonnie and Clyde car, the show includes the 1990 Chevy Caprice used in 2002 by the Beltway Snipers, the Tommy Gun used by John Dillinger, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI identification, and part of the engine of the jet that was flown in the South Tower on 9-11.
Besides these artifacts, the exhibit also informs viewers of the Bureau’s history, the steps to become an agent, the “Most Wanted” program, and more details about the most notorious cases investigated by the FBI.