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Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

Some of the earliest participants in the infamous "Public Enemies" Era, Bonnie and Clyde became synonymous with the romantic outlaw couple by an angry American public during the Great Depression, and were cemented in folklore by the extremely romanticized 1967 movie. In truth the Barrow Gang had an exhaustive, bloody and (compared to later Public Enemies) chaotic and unsuccessful career that ended about as violently as one would have expected.

 

The leader of the gang was Clyde Barrow, a hardscrabble young Texan who had just been released from prison (where he murdered someone sexually assaulting him) and who appeared to simply seek vengeance against the Texas Penitentiary System. Armed with a M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, Clyde embarked on a series of grocery store robberies with varying accomplices, many of which ended bloodily. In 1930, Clyde met Bonnie Parker, a married waitress who loved poetry; the two fell in love with each other, and Bonnie and Clyde would become the only consistent members of the Barrow Gang. In a period from 1932 to 1934, the gang embarked on a string of bank and gas station robberies from Minnesota to Texas, killing dozens, including nine police officers. Thanks to Clyde's skill with driving and his BAR, they also escaped from three major shootouts and one ambush. After one shootout in Joplin, Missouri, police recovered a series of photos where Bonnie and Clyde flirt and playfully arm themselves with their fearsome arsenal . The photos make the gang national news, and Bonnie especially attracts attention as an apparent gun-toting equal to Clyde (evidence now throws into doubt whether she actually ever fired a gun). During this chaotic, directionless two years, Bonnie is seriously injured in a car accident, Clyde's brother Buck was killed, and Buck's wife Blanche was captured.

 

Finally things came to a head when Clyde achieved his dream: staging a brazen daytime breakout at the prison where he had been imprisoned, freeing several prisoners and humiliating the state of Texas. The state responded by appointing retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer to head a task force to hunt down the Barrow Gang. A few months later, the Barrow Gang ambushed two Texas Highway patrolmen as they approached to help what they thought were stranded motorists. The Grapevine Shootings turned the public against the gang, especially the (false) news that Bonnie had executed one of the fallen cops. Bonnie and Clyde were now wanted dead.

 

On May 23, 1934, after successfully predicting the gang would return towards Texas, Hamer's posse of Texas and Louisiana officers ambushed Bonnie and Clyde on a rural road near Bienville, Louisiana. With the father of one of the escaped prisoners as bait, the posse hit Clyde's stolen 1932 Ford V8 with 130 rounds of automatic, shotgun, and pistol fire, as the directionless car drove into a ditch. Bonnie and Clyde were cut to pieces by more than 20 rounds each, as still can be hinted by the swiss-cheesed side of the car. And so ended their criminal career.

 

The car (amazingly was still able to drive) became famous as morbid evidence of the death of Bonnie and Clyde, and embarked on a storied career at carnivals and state fairs. It was eventually brought to Primm, Nevada, where it sits with the Dutch Schultz car in the middle of Whiskey Pete's Casino. People used to be able to sit in the death car, but apparently the casino has opted for a less macabre display.

Primm, Nevada

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Taken on January 10, 2013