CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Bonnie & Clyde... fast forward 85 years... Would Clyde still choose a Ford getaway car?

A February 9, 2019 Detroit Free Press article, written by Randy Essex, displays a letter from Clyde Barrow to Henry Ford explaining his delight with the availability of such a wonderful Ford V-8 getaway car. (Of course that was prior to the 106 bullet holes.)


The article goes on to suggest some modern day choices for best getaway car.

Was that Ford actually the best choice in 1934?

Today, which car would make the best getaway car?
Why?

CSA
:palm_tree::sunglasses::palm_tree:

The Taurus SHO wouldn’t be a bad choice. Chevy SS, Dodge Charger Hellcat, BMW M5, MB C/E 63, would work. But sometimes you’d want something that would blend in, like a beige Camry, or grey Accord.

2 Likes

THAT’s the concept I’d go for. Nothing says “pull me over for a chat” than a chrome yellow Hellcat or SHO. A Challanger or SHO in beige or grey (or silver) would be quite the stealth car and very fast. Police seem to give a pass to the cars THEY drive in muted colors. In their mind it says “unmarked cruiser.”

I did a project years ago on the old square-body Caprice. The very same body style as the State Highway Patrol. They were pretty much invisible to police. Even ones using radar.

Mustang GT, of course…

Coincidentally, folks just found some of their original arrest warrants in Ft. Worth, they’re scanning in old records and these just happened to be there:

They stole their cars and never bought them so color choice was limited. I suspect though today they might pick one of those Ford SUV Police vehicles that will hit 150 MPH. In Minnesota anyway, they’ll be idling outside unattended. So yeah, still Ford.

One advantage Bonnie and Clyde had was that cops did not have license plate scanners on the roofs of their patrol cars. Today, no matter how anonymous their car was, unless they swapped plates often (and swapped them with plates from the same make, model, year, and color as theirs) the cops would still be able to locate them pretty quickly.

A second advantage they had was that if you could get away from the cops who were chasing you in X-county, Wisconsin, the cops in Y-county, Iowa wouldn’t find out that you were wanted for a fairly long time. It was very easy to just disappear back then. Nowadays, Bonnie’d better hope Clyde doesn’t have a cell phone or they’ll get caught that way. :wink: Along the same lines, CNN did not plaster every photograph ever taken of you on international television 24/7 in the 1930’s, so the average citizen would have no idea who they were looking at even if they happened to catch a glimpse.

Of course another advantage they, and all of the other gangsters of the era, had was that if you went to St. Paul, MN you were almost guaranteed to not be arrested, as the police there had a deal with the mob: Refrain from committing crimes here, and we’ll look the other way when we see you. Today’s Bonnie and Clyde would have no such safe haven and would probably have to spend some of their earnings on a below-radar plane ride out of the country when things got too hot.

Were I going to go on a cross-country string of murderous robberies, the type of vehicle I had would be largely I think irrelevant beyond needing to be reliable and with tinted windows so people couldn’t see me too easily. The electronic toys inside would be much more important. I’d want a few radio scanners to give me an idea of when the law was closing in on me. I’d want a rotating license plate system so that I could have a different plate every 50 miles or so (this system actually exists! It’s basically a bunch of plates on a rotating drum - hit a button and it flips to the next plate. Commonly used by spies in the old days - might still be used now). I’d want it to be off-road capable because, let’s face it, I’m probably gonna have to cross an international border without using roads if I really want to get away.

But realistically, after I kill 30 people and steal a few million from a bank, my getaway vehicle is going to be a 737, coach, to some island in the Caribbean that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US. :wink:

Thinking back to the movie The Cannonball Run, I think an ambulance would make the best getaway vehicle.

Of course, the movie The Dark Knight showed the advantage of using a school bus as a getaway vehicle, twice.

Are You sure that Sheriff Buford T. Justice has retired? :sunglasses:
Maybe his son has taken over. :laughing:
Yes, I know he started in Smokie and the bandit (for all I know).

1 Like

They used an ambulance as a getaway vehicle in Heat too, when they robbed the armored car. Al Pacino is no Jackie Gleason though.

1 Like

In my mind, Jackie Gleason was an absolute perfect fit for Sheriff Buford T. Justice. Loved him in that role.

Heh heh heh, so you think Whitey Bulger had help? Hiding in plain sight.

He had a lot of help, from his wife, and fellow gang members, and a family in Louisiana that hid him for awhile.

Don’t forget their most important helpers, the FBI.

32 Fords remain popular as the base for customized Hot Rod restorations even today, so maybe Clyde had something there. I was thinking a Ford Explorer today would make a good get-away car, goes fast and holds a lot of stuff, but it wouldn’t blend in as well as a Civic/Corolla/Mazda 3 econobox. I don’t think going fast would be as important as being inconspicuous today.

*5 Years ago was 1934, maybe Clyde should have stolen a 6 cylinder Plymouth. I read an article about a Midwestern state road testing a Ford, Chevy and a Plymouth in 1934 or 35 for their state police and the flathead six was 5 mph faster than the V8 Ford. I wonder if Plymouth had a special model back then, I know Studebaker did. It was called the Sheriff.

Probably the real reason Clyde stole Fords was because they were by far the commonest cars on the road. Today it would probably be an F150/

1 Like

So it would still be a Ford anyway. I’ve never owned a Ford. A Lincoln but not a Ford, and I’ve never robbed a bank, but I think if I did rob a bank, I probably should consider a Ford. Come to think of it, a couple guys robbed a bank a couple weeks ago. I think they drove a Toyota and got caught. I didn’t think people robbed banks anymore-no money in it.

You can Rob a lot more money sitting at your kitchen table with a laptop then you can walking into a bank with a gun

It depends how desperate the perps are. Criminals that get caught aren’t known for their intelligence. I know a public defender. He says the majority of the people he defends are seriously stupid. He tries to get them a just sentence, given the circumstances. If the guy that got caught had someone egging him on, he makes sure that is known. It typically results in a lower sentence than if he thought it up all on his own.

Yes indeedy, people still rob banks - because there are no longer guards with guns there. They rob the local Quickie Marts and liquor stores even though many of them have armed cashiers (the owners) behind the counter.

I see their pictures on the local news. Tattoos and unique hair styles make them easy to identify. Crooks are stupid that way!

The ones here didn’t even wear a mask.

Sorry to veer off but it kind of involves cars. If I can remember correctly anyway a few years ago we had a jewelry store smash and grab. One in the getaway car and two went into the store, smashed the glass and stole what they thought were diamonds in the case. Turns out they were just glass substitutes and the diamonds were in the safe. Turns out though that even though the glass was worth only a few hundred dollars, according to the law, the fact that they thought they were worth more made it a felony just like if they were real diamonds. Poor souls.

The dumbest so far though was the guy involved in a drug sale gone bad. The customer took the drugs and failed to pay him. He got mad and called police because the guy didn’t pay. Heh heh heh. Gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em. I 'spose the judge might have had mercy on him but don’t think so.