Two U.S. companies built V-16 powered automobiles: Cadillac and Marmon. The former survived the tough economic times of the 1930's, the latter did not.
From its beginnings in 1902, Marmon was headquartered in Indianapolis. A Marmon 'Wasp' won the first Indy '500' race. From the beginning until the end - in 1933 - the Marmon was an exceptionally well-engineered car, thanks in large part to its namesake, Howard Marmon.
From 1931 through 1933 only 390 Marmon 16's were built. Built on a stately 145-inch wheelbase and priced at $5,000, the Marmon 16-cylinder engine produced 200 horsepower. The innovative design was done by a young Walter Dorwin Teague Jr., who became a famed industrial designer.
Marmon, in its short life, left its imprint on the auto industry by pioneering the use of the rear view mirror, the V-16 engine and the use of aluminum in automobile manufacturing.
This particular Marmon Sixteen is fitted with a four-door convertible sedan body built by the noted coachbuilder LeBaron. This body style is considered by many to be the most attractive and desirable coachwork ever fitted to the Marmon Sixteen chassis.
Approximately 390 Marmon Sixteen's were built between 1930 and 1933, and of these, it is believed only about 40 were fitted with the LeBaron convertible sedan bodies, with only 60 Marmon 16's remaining today.
This vehicle spent the first years of its life in the Southern California area where it remained until it was purchased in 1955. The new owner rarely used the vehicle and placed it in storage in 1957 where it remained untouched and preserved until 1995, when it was purchased by Donald Lyons.
Upon purchasing, Mr. Lyons placed it in the hands of a noted vintage restorer. The vehicle was found to have only 18,500 miles from new. In 1998 the restoration was completed. The new owner takes great pride in showing this rare Marmon 16. By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2008
Sold for $687,500 at 2011 RM Sothebys. Howard Marmon introduced an advanced 4-cylinder car in 1902 from his shops in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before the effect of the economic depression of the 1930s caused the end of production, Marmon presented its ultimate accomplishment, a model powered [Read More...]
Built in Indianapolis, Indiana, Marmon was known as a luxury car manufacturer. The Marmon Sixteen, featuring a V-16 engine, made its debut in the early years of The Great Depression. Marmon is best known for having the winning car in the 1911 India [Read More...]
Sold for $456,500 at 2005 RM Sothebys. Sold for $726,000 at 2007 RM Sothebys. Sold for $1,320,000 at 2015 RM Sothebys. In 1902, Howard Marmon was only 23 but had already constructed his first automobile. It was an advanced piece of machinery for the time, featuring overhead valves and air-cooling. Nine years later, a Marmon was driven to a victory at the inaugural [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2007
Sold for $517,000 at 2009 RM Sothebys. High bid of $450,000 at 2012 RM Sothebys. (did not sell) Production of the Marmon Sixteen began in early 1931, by which time Cadillac's V16 had been on the market for over a year. Pricing for the Marmon began in the low $5200 which made it $750 less than the equivalent Cadillac. Buyers of the Marmon Sixt [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
Sold for $291,500 at 2004 RM Sothebys. Sold for $632,500 at 2016 RM Sothebys. Introduced in 1931, the Marmon Sixteen featured beautiful styling, power and technology. The LeBaron Convertible Sedan body is painted in its original color scheme of black with an orange body molding and maroon leather. The original price for this c [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | May 2016
Sold for $346,500 at 2010 RM Sothebys. The Marmon Automobile Company traces its roots back to 1851 when Howard Marmon's father manufactured flour grinding mill equipment. Automobile production began in 1902. Howard Marmon helped to develop the World War I Liberty aircraft engine. After th [Read More...]
High bid of $165,000 at 2011 Branson Collector Car Auction. (did not sell) The 1931 Marmon was available in one of eight standard body styles. The Sixteen was designed by Walter Darwin Teague Sr. with bodies built by LeBaron. Each Sixteen constructed was delivered with a certificate attesting that it had exceeded 100 mph fo [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2011
The were 390 V-16 of different body styles produced. There are five four-door sedan convertibles left in modern times. The V-16 engine had an aluminum block, with overhead valves. The body was also constructed of aluminum. [Read More...]
Howard Marmon, after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, returned to the family machines business in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1902 as chief engineer. Later that year he built his first car. He strove to build the perfect automo [Read More...]
Howard Marmon founded the Marmon Motor Car Company of Indianapolis in 1902. It was an outgrowth of a company that made grinding mill equipment dating back to 1851. A few low-production, experimental automobiles were made in the beginning but by 1909 [Read More...]
The original owner of this full classic was Mrs. J.W. Fisher of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mrs. Fisher was the sister of Howard and Walter Marmon of the Marmon Motor Car Company of Indianapolis. [Read More...]
Convertible Coupe Coachwork: LeBaron Chassis Num: 16144652 Engine Num: 16513
Sold for $1,210,000 at 2016 Gooding & Company. The Marmon Sixteen had Art Deco styling with a bold grille in the front which was composed of horizontal bars. The body had a straight beltline that was elegant and simple. During the three-year production run of all Sixteen body styles, it is estima [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2016
A superbly crafted unit of aluminum and light alloy, the V-16 Marmon boasted the largest displacement of any engine on the market, yet was lighter than most smaller eights. Horsepower was nearly the equal of the Duesenberg Eight while surpassing both [Read More...]
The Marmon V-16 was introduced around the same time Cadillac introduced their V-16 powered automobile. In comparison, the Marmon built automobile was more powerful and an engineering marvel. By using aluminum, the 491 cubic-inch engine with its overhead values weighed just over 900 pounds. The engine was formed by merging twin-eight cylinder engines in a 45-degree angle, giving the engine an impressive look and an astonishing 200 horsepower. The use of steel cylinder sleeves added to the longevity and durability of the engine. The V-16 engine earned Howard Marmon the Society of Automotive Engineers annual design award.
The engine was an engineering marvel and the automobile was a work of art. The problem was the timing; introduced near the onset of the stock market crash and the crippling Great Depression. The most competitive market segment at this time was the upper, high priced vehicles. Packard, Auburn, Cadillac, to name a few, were produced exquisite automobiles and catering to the wealthy. The short list of buyers meant production was low and the profit margin was tight. To stay competitive the manufacturers needed to continue to introduce new products, designs, and innovative vehicles.
Cadillac and Marmon introduced their V-16 automobiles around the same time. The Great Depression meant there were few who could afford this five-thousand luxury automobile. The competition and the Depression resulted in fewer than four-hundred examples being produced. The Marmom Motor Car Company entered into receivership.
The Marmon V-16 was powered by a lightweight, powerful engine and decorated in luxurious amenities and modern designs. Its demise was a market that did not have the resources to sustain its production. With its low production figures, its exclusivity is guaranteed in modern times. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
'The World's Most Advanced Car' or a 'new concept in fine cars', at least that was how Marmon Auto Company touted its Sixteen in 1931. But this proclamation wasn't without reason as the engine used all-aluminum construction that was considered evolutionary of the foundry art. Other big claims to fame included overhead valves that were actuated by pushrods from a single camshaft while both the block and crankcase were cast as a single unit and the block was actually a 'Y' in section. A single cast manifold served both cylinder banks while a one dual-throat downdraft carburetor fed the fuel. All but three of the 390 Marmon Sixteens built carried 'standard' bodies built by LeBaron; two coupes, a Victoria and five sedans.
One of the finest names in automotive history, Marmon has under its belt a bevy of accomplishments that include winning the first Indianapolis 500-mile race, and an impressive aluminum V-16 engine in the early 1930s. In 1851 Nordyke and Marmon was formed in Richmond, Indiana and soon moved to Indianapolis. From there it became well-known for flour milling machinery. Howard Marmon graduated in Mechanical engineering from the University of CA in Berkeley late in the 19th century. In 1902 at the young age of 23 he became Marmon's chief engineer while his older brother Walter, also an engineer managed the business. Though the flour machinery was a good money maker, Howard was much more interested in the up and coming automobile business.
In 1902 he built his first car with an air-cooled V-twin engine, pressure lubrication and overhead valves. The following year Howard built his second car, which had an air-cooled V-4. Two years later the Marmon Company was fully in the automobile business, selling six cars, most of them to friends. The following year in 1905, production increased to 25 cars and Howard began trying different engine configurations.
After success with several models, unfortunately the stock market crashed and Marmon, much like other manufacturers, experienced a serious sales decline. Howard Marmon continued to have even grander ideas though and in 1931 he introduced his dream car, the Marmon Sixteen. Though this was the first V-16, the Cadillac V-16 which had arrived in 1930 beat them to it, the Marmon engine was much more powerful and also more brilliant in appearance. Howard Marmon was recognized by his peers when the Sixteen won the Society of Automotive Engineers' annual design award.
The engine was actually quite light despite its size at a scarce 930lbs, nearly 370lbs lighter than Cadillac's slightly smaller V16. Probably only rivaled by Duesenberg, the Marmom Sixteen had impressive 4.65 pounds per hp weight-to-power ratio. Howard had a passion in his design that was evident in his minimal weight construction of the Sixteen. All of the main pieces, the hood, front and rear splash aprons, spare-wheel mounts, running-board aprons, headlamp and tail-lamp brackets and even the fuel-filler pipe were all made of aluminum.
Due to this all aluminum construction, very few cars couldn't even come close to the Marmon for sheer speed or through the gears acceleration. The Marmon Sixteen even accelerated faster than the prestigious Duesenberg Model J, though the Model J had a higher top speed because of its twin-cam engine. The Marmon also cost half of a Duesenberg chassis. The cylinder banks on the Sixteen were set at 45 degrees, which resulted in a narrow engine that fit under the slim hoods of the day. It also had wet, pressed-in steel cylinder sleeves and used fork-and-blade connecting rods instead of the side-by-side type that become universal in V-type engines.
Howard Marmon wasn't responsible for the body design, but he did hire an industrial engineer at a time when this profession wasn't yet popular. Walter Dorwin Teague, Sr., a 47 year old designer took most of the credit, and it's true he handled the contract work with Marmon and translated the concept into production form. But in fact his son W.D. Teague, Jr., a student at MIT sketched the original drawings, as well as the full-size renderings and several interior concepts also the unusual aircraft-type instrument panel during weekends and in summer school. The name of the father carried more prestige then his young son's name. From 1931 until 1933 the number of 16 cylinder cars was 390 and they were priced at $5,100 to $5,400.
The Sixteen was a modern looking vehicle, but not a ‘radical' one, and it bore no resemblance to any of the earlier Marmon's. A hood that hid the water filler featured a raked Vee'd radiator with any ornament or badge while the doors extended down almost to the running boards. The fenders were constructed with the purpose of hiding chassis components. A very prominent beltline ran absolutely straight around the body which further accentuated a low-slung profile. A windshield was raked to match the radiator and the ultra-low rooflines.
Only two custom bodies are known of, two Waterhouse tourers and a very individual Victoria constructed by Hayes to a design by Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. These were probably part of Howard's eventual plan to offer 32 'regular' custom styles, much in the spirit of Judkins, Waterhouse and Murphy; town cars, limousines, speedsters, all-weather phaetons and 'sunshine-roof' sedans. Unfortunately slow sales halted this idea.
Despite its grandeur and distinction, the Marmon Sixteen arrived on the scene just too late. The Depression had weakened the economy and shrunk the market for $5,000-plus cars. In 1933 the Marmon Motor Car Co. went into receivership. Barely 400 Marmon Sixteen's were ever built. Though the name would carry on for many years in Marmon-Herrington four-wheel drive trucks and four-wheel drive truck conversions, Marmon was out of the car business. Impressive and elegant, today a Marmon Sixteen is a nearly priceless collectible.By Jessica Donaldson
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