First Car Through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is a mile-long tunnel that connects Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario. According to the tunnel’s official website, it is the only existing subaqueous international automobile border crossing in the world and is made up of 80,000 cubic yards of concrete and 750 tons of reinforced steel. It also contains 574 lights so that drivers can safely make their way through this tube located 75 feet below the surface of the Detroit River. The tunnel was officially dedicated on November 1, 1930. Many current sources report that a 1929 Studebaker was the first car through the tunnel (here and here, for example). This is surprising, because contemporary newspaper reports were pretty emphatic that the first car through the tunnel was not a Studebaker, but a Graham:

The above photo was published in the El Paso Times, and it depicts the Graham at the international boundary with the radiator in the United States and the remainder of the car in Canada. It is easily identifiable as a Graham because of the large ventilation doors on the side of the hood that could be opened and closed separately by pressing small chromium buttons.

The Graham brothers, who had been in the truck business before selling out to Dodge Brothers, purchased the Paige-Detroit Motor Car Company in 1927. This means the Graham Eight used to christen the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel must have been brand-new, because it was called a Graham-Paige from 1928 through the first series of 1930. This shiny, new Graham would have been powered by a 100-hp L-Head Eight with 3-1/4 x 4-1/2 bore/stroke and displacement of 298.6 cubic inches. The distinctive Graham emblem is a stylized depiction of the three Graham brothers, Joseph, Robert and Ray, as knights:

The reports from 1930 do not mention why the Graham was chosen to make that first trip under the Detroit River, but perhaps it had something to do with the automobile’s “dignity and class”:

1930 Graham taillight