Sharrie Williams, author of The Maybelline Story, is an original descendant of the Maybelline family. Her Great uncle, Tom Lyle Williams, founded the Maybelline Co in 1915 and sold it in 1967. Sharrie shares her family's photos, stories and vintage Maybelline ads.
Maybelline "1917 Paige" featured in Hemmings Classic Car Magazine May 2016
Maybelline family in Tom Lyle Williams new 1917 Paige Detroit
I received an Email from Nevy Clark, the owner of Tom Lyle Williams 1917 Paige and I'm thrilled to know the car is in immaculate condition and still on the road almost 100 years later.
The Paige Brooklands model 651, had been in the Jim Grundy Sr. (big insurance company that specializes in vintage car insurance) collection for many years (40 years as best I can gather). When Mr. Grundy died, the majority of his collection was sold and Mr. Robert Pass (owner of Passport Transport Co.) purchased the bulk. Mr. Pass was interested in the CCCA Classics (Stutzs, Duesenburg, Mormans, V-12 Cadillacs, etc).
Hemmings classic Car Magazine May 2016
The Paige was of no interest to him as it did not rank as a “Classic” of the 1920 – 1930 ERA, and unassumingly had no history, so he put it up for sale. I thought it was a unique and “cool” car and purchased it. I did extensive research and although it was listed in the Standard Catalog of American cars as the model “Brooklands” (Paige often named its models after race tracks), there was no listing of numbers produced and no record of any existing car.
The PAIGE auto Club showed no account of any of the “Brooklands” being made – only the number of Paiges total made in 1917. The Antique Automobile Club of America (4,000 members) did an article on the car in their October 2009 issue. The article was titled “1917 Paige Model Six -51” It had a lot of photos of the car and the one from the Standard Catalog of American Cars. In your book, you have 2 photos of the car, one as a two-seater roadster and the other as a 4-place touring with Tom at the wheel and Mabel in the back seat.
I would make the assumption that Tom gave the car later to Mabel, because 1. Because it is rather difficult transforming the car from a two seater to a 4- place and requires two people to lift the back panels and store them. 2. It so much easier to put up the top for a 2-seater than to get the top up over the car as a 4-place without getting soaked in a sudden downpour. I THINK Tom would have preferred racy looking sport cars like the ones owned by Rudolph Valentino, Garry Grant and the like, but knowing he had “his people” to transport, thought it would be clever to have car that converted to a 4 door car (the back doors bring almost unnoticeable). The idea as good, but Tom not bring an auto engineer, apparently did not in see the mechanical difficulties in his design. Which more likely is why Paige, although adding it to their offers, was not able to sell any others.
By the time I got the Paige, the front seat was worn but the back seat and the mahogany cabinets in the back were as good as new (why Tom designed mahogany cabinets with draws that lock individually, is a big mystery – especially considering if difficult to get into the back seat area).
The car is apparently “all original”, having been in the Grundy family so long. Mrs Grundy Sr. had no idea as to how her husband acquired the car, but did recall the lovely pigskin interior. Jim Gundy Jr. was not able to furnish any information on the car either. It wasn’t until the editor of the Antique Automobile, West Peterson, called in 2010 to tell me about your book “The Maybelline Story” that we have been able to learn the early history. Do you have any knowledge to my assumption that Tom must have, later on, given the Paige to Mabel or any knowledge who might have been the owner much later on. Or anyone else that might have owned it?
I know you and Chuck Williams and Donna Williams have seen the 1940 Packard that was built and designed for Tom (ref: Antique Automobile Magazine June 2012 issue photo of you with the car). It is located in California. However, I am across the continent in Savannah, Georgia.
Steve and JoEllen Synder first learned of the history of their car, Tom Lyle Williams 1940 Packard Victoria, through Editor West Peterson.
I replaced the front seat with new but matching pigskin (before I learned whose it had been and that it was entirely original). I have had to but in new bearings and new piston rods redesigned as the original design of the 1917 Continental engine had a flaw that would destroy bearings. Just this past week the old (read rusty) fuel tank has been replace with an aluminum tank which was made of the same design.
I am doing everything possible to preserve this bit of automotive history. From the beginning, just buying what I thought was a “cool” car, I had planned on taking it on many antique car rallies (tours), but with the car’s history, I am inclined to believe it should be preserved and used sparingly.
The PETERSEN AUTO MUSEUM in Los Angles (most beautiful auto museum in the world) specializes in cars with California history. I am sure they would like to have the Maybelline Paige. I would be willing to sell it for less than I have invested, but I’m not prepared, at this point, to donate it.
In most pictures, the car appears smallish, but it is actually on a 127 inch wheel base. Here is a photo taken with my wife and me and our dogs on an outing before the publication of your book. Let me know if you were able to download the 6 pages from the Hemmings Classic (or perhaps you have obtain copy of the issue ).
Sorry this email is so long – when talking about this car, I get carried away.
With kind regards, Sincerely, Nevy Clark
To see more amazing pictures of Tom Lyle Williams Maybelline Paige Detroit, known as the most Beautiful Car in the World, visit Hemmings Magazine with the links below
Note, The picture of Tom Lyle, Mabel and their father TJ Williams in the Paige in the Hemmings article, is owned by the Maybelline family and should have been given proper credit.
Image 3 of 18: The Brooklands' original owner was Maybelline founder Tom Lyle Williams, here at the wheel, with the Paige configured for foul weather. The fabric top looks somewhat ungainly for a sporting vehicle.