Gray Four

Gray Four

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have a keen interest in 1920’s era cars, and especially the many and varied “independent” makes which were a part of the US motor industry during this decade. The Gray is a classic example.

The Gray Motor Corporation was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1922, as an offshoot of the Gray Motor Company, which had supplied engines to other car makes of the era.

Many of the executive personnel were ex-Ford Motor Company employees, including treasurer Frank L Klingensmith. They decided to take on Henry Ford and his hugely successful Model T in the low-price market. The Gray was powered by a 2.8 litre 20 hp four-cylinder engine, and shared the same wheelbase as the Model T – 2,358mm.

Unlike the Model T’s planetary transmission, the Gray featured a conventional three-speed unit, and suspension was by cantilever springs at the front and rear. The Gray was unable to compete with Ford on price – the roadster and tourer costing $490 and $520, compared with the Ford prices of $364 for a roadster and $348 for a tourer. Gray had predicted that they would manufacture 250,000 cars a year, but by mid-1923 only 1772 cars had been sold.
The company changed its strategy, moving upmarket with a car on a longer wheelbase. Klingensmith did not agree with this strategy, and resigned from the company in January 1925, after which he went on an extended holiday in Australia. The new car cost more – prices ranged from $630 for a tourer up to $995 for sport sedan. Four-wheel brakes were added in 1926, but the company was out of business by the middle of the year. Factory equipment and other assets were sold by auction.

Despite being in production for only 4 years, the Gray was sold new in Australia by various dealers in the major capital cities. The advertisement featured in this entry, though is a mystery. The illustration is from the Adelaide News, dated the 22nd of November 1927. The reference to the “new” Gray is confusing, as the company had gone out of business in mid-1926. It seems that part of the assets of the Gray Motor Corporation which went for auction included a batch of chassis, without bodies.

I can only assume that Drummonds either purchased these chassis direct from the auction, or through a third party, and shipped them to Adelaide, where a local body-builder fitted them with bodies. Drummonds were dealers for a wide range of makes, such as Flint, Amilcar, Moon and Armstrong-Siddeley. None of these were lower-priced cars, so maybe Drummond’s wanted to establish a clientele in this price range. I have no information as to how many chassis were imported into Australia, what they sold for, and how many were sold.


8 thoughts on “Gray Four

  1. My father brought our family to Australia after the second world war,from Britain arriving in early 1950. some time during that decade my father bought a Gray tourer, by that time it must have become a little shabby and when rain threatened to postpone a weekend at the lake , my father took up the lino from the kitchen floor, tying it over the roof so we could stay dry during the trip( maybe 45 minutes in that car at that time) people waiting at the bus stop, laughed as we drove by but we weren’t the ones standing in the rain, the old saying he who laughs last laughs the loudest? today I met another Gray child, his father had also owned a Gray but he had no picture, hence my look at the web and your site, thanks David

  2. My 1923 Gray Model N has March 1923 embossed on the crankcase. It has a body by T J Richards of Adelaide, South Australia, and was sold in February 1924 by Eagle Motors, Adelaide – the South Australian distributor for Case and Gray cars. In the 1930’s its farmer owner converted it from a tourer to a buckboard and this body is still current today. I am only the 3rd. owner (and restorer) and the car is regularly driven in vintage events in SA.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks for responding to my blog post about the Gray Four. Do you know if there are any other surviving Gray Fours in Australia apart from your car? Also, how did you find out about my blog?

  3. Gooday again Graham

    Sorry about the delay in getting back to you – my time and interest is with another restoration at present.
    I know of about 10 Grays in Australia, 5 of which are driveable if not currently on the road. While I know of 2 others in SA mine is the only one registered and on the road.
    Every so often as happened today, I Google GMC to see if there is any new info to add to my knowledge.


    John B

  4. Hello my name is Pontus and i live in Sweden and own a Gray touring from 1924. Thé condition is 90% orginal and this car ess sold in july 1925 here in Sweden. First years it was used as a taxi. And now it is thé oldest known registrated taxi that is still in traffic and on the roads!

  5. Hello

    I can tell you of more Grays. There is a nice restored and roadable Four in Bunbury, WA which has some parts acquired from the original owner of the 2 Grays that I have. Mine came from Hughenden and were both ‘uted’ during the war. There is another ‘uted’ car owned by the same family since new and this is in a shed on their farm outside Mareeba in North Queensland. I know of one roadable in Toowoomba and there is a fully restored (old restoration) and roadable car at Beechmere – this car was originally on Bribie Island and last I heard was now in the possession of the original owner’s son. Finally, there was one on Magnetic Island but it met its demise many moons ago with parts scattered variously. The original owner still has the original manuals and booklets and I have made copies of these.



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