1926 Graham-Paige

No further evidence of the frivolity and carefree nature of the Roaring Twenties need be presented than the Graham-Paige "Sound Train". Built for Paramount Pictures and its Publix Theatres chain, the Sound Trains were employed in publicity stunts, parades, promotions and apparently occasionally to transport the Paramount star or ingénue to an lavish event or movie premiere. The concept had its origins in 1917 when Indiana's Harry McGee created the Trackless Train, a gasoline engine powered two-axle road vehicle that closely resembled a railroad steam locomotive and tender. McGee created a successor Trackless Train in 1924, this time with an attached club car trailer, to promote an automobile painting system. It was later sold to MGM which used it in a worldwide tour as the International Beauty Train promoting its movies and stars. Apparently determined not to be outdone, MGM competitor Paramount commissioned a series of Sound Train vehicles in 1929 of which this is one. Based on the Graham-Paige Model 837 long wheelbase limousine, the Sound Train hood is modified to resemble the boiler of a railroad locomotive and fitted with all manner of locomotive-themed lights, bells, whistles and accessories. The passengers' compartment is trimmed like a luxurious parlor car and modified with an observation platform at the back complete with overhanging roof, elaborate railing and upholstered bench seat. The front fenders each has a small seat where a child or glamorous lady could ride, signboards can display the lobby cards of the latest Paramount flick and an effective sound system can play appropriate music or public announcements. McGee is known to have built only sixteen or so of the Graham-Paige Sound Trains with only a half dozen or less known to have survived. This example is largely original and unrestored and has many of its railroad-themed accessories, lights and features. It runs and drives but is aged, tired and in need of restoration. Needless to say, it will not fail to attract positive attention whether on the show field (where a restored Sound Train was displayed along with exotic concept vehicles from GM, Ford and Chrysler at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance) or in any parade, show, tour or affair. The term "attention-getting" hardly begins to describe the appeal of this Graham-Paige Sound Train by H.O. McGee.

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