An interesting item turned up in a 2022 edition of the Pontiac Oakland Club International’s Early Times Chapter newsletter, ETCetra. In it, chapter founder Arnold Landvoight writes of getting a phone call from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regarding a 1929 Pontiac.
The caller was a retired ATF agent who was working with a retired FBI agent to dig up facts about a murder that occurred in 1930. It seems that the victim — Ray Sutton — was a Bureau of Prohibition agent who was killed in New Mexico. His case was of special interest to the two investigators, because Sutton’s body was never found. That makes him the only federal agent ever killed on duty whose remains haven’t been recovered.
When Sutton was killed on Aug. 28, 1930, he was traveling around rural New Mexico in a government-owned 1929 Pontiac four-door sedan. The car was discovered by authorities after it had been pushed into a clump of trees and bushes in an arroyo. The Pontiac had blood stains on the rear seat and the passenger compartment floor.
The retired law enforcement agents have located photographs of the car being extracted from its resting place by a group of men who were local public figures or employees of various government agencies. The pictures show men wearing cowboy hats, fedoras and holstered pistols. It looks like it took quite a bit of work to get the Pontiac uncovered. The car’s distinctive oval rear window verifies that it is a 1929 Pontiac model.
The federal government retained the car for a time, but later sold it. The modern investigators are now trying to find it or learn what became of it. They do not have the car’s chassis number, but they believe they have its engine number, which is recorded as 641309.
“I looked in my books and this would have been the 180,308th of 212,499 Pontiacs produced in 1929,” Landvoight pointed out. “Given this detail, it seems like the car would have been built late in that production year.”
Landvoight is not overly optimistic about the chance of finding the car after 92 years have passed. He told the men how cars with steel body panels fastened over wood framing deteriorate. He also pointed out that roads were in pretty poor condition in the ’30s, and often accelerated the deterioration of cars of that era.
“They explained to me that they know the odds are against them, but they found where Ray Sutton’s widow is buried, and one side of her tombstone remains blank in hopes that his remains will someday be discovered and be buried there.” The men are doing more digging to see if they can find the car’s chassis number or other records.
If any Old Cars reader should have information about this case or the 1929 Pontiac involved, write to email@example.com. We will forward any new facts to Mr. Landvoight.
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