Founded in 1902, the Auburn Automobile Company got its start making single-cylinder runabouts. E.L. Cord gained control of the company in 1924, adding Duesenberg in 1926 and Cord in 1929 to the product line. A victim of the Great Depression, Auburn ceased production in 1936, followed by Cord and Duesenberg in 1937. Lycoming engines, an Auburn subsidiary, survives to this day.
Under the design direction of 28-year-old Alan Leamy, the Auburn Speedster body was designed as a flowing, integral unit. The 'Boattail' Speedster from Auburn hit the showrooms with the 1928 model. It was the first of three generations of Boattail that would be produced over the next nine years. Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, a Russian nobleman who was known for his flair with color and line, designed that first car.
In 1932, Auburn produced just 84 eight-cylinder Speedsters.
This is a second-generation car, designed by Alan H. Leamy, which began with the 1930 model. Leamy later moved on to a career at General Motors working under the legendary Harley Earl.
The 'A' in this car's nomenclature refers to its 2-speed differential manufactured by a Cord subsidiary. It was controlled by a high-low ratio level on the instrument panel and was actuated by manifold vacuum and the clutch.
As a Custom Deluxe model, this Speedster has chrome wheels, steel side-mount wheel covers, Pines Winterfront, and Pilot Ray lights. Options include the Pearl Gray paint, radiator stone guard, heater, Philco radio and a clock in the rearview mirror. The price new was around $1,500.
This Auburn Speedster was 1 of 6 built in February 1932. It was the only Custom Deluxe 8-100A model built that month. Business Week declared, 'It was more car for the money that the public has ever seen.' It was first sold to a newlywed couple in California and the car has had 8 owners since. A similar 1932 Speedster won the American Stock Car Championship with a speed over 117 miles per hour. Average fuel economy was about 18 mpg. The car has been certified by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club as an original 1932 Speedster. It is the only Custom Deluxe model known to exist.
The current owner restored the car after acquiring it from famous automotive artist/sculptor Stanly Wanlass in 1994. It has been certified by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club as an original 1932 Auburn Speedster (# A-428 Original).
The Auburn Speedster was Errett Lobban Cord's attempt to combine performance and style to boost sales at a difficult time for the motor industry. Cord designer Al Leamy and streamlining expert Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky produced one of the most stun [Read More...]
Auburn built various Speedster models through the years. Designed by Alan Leamy, whose other works included the Cord L-29, production of 8-100s spanned from 1928 through 1936, though none were built in 1930 or 1934. Auburn built only about 75 Speedst [Read More...]
The Auburn Automobile Company announced the re-introduction of the Speedster on October 26th of 1931. It was styled and designed by Alan H. Leamy and would set Auburn apart as being the only company that was building speedster in mass quantity at tha [Read More...]
In the 1920's, E.L. Cord was very involved in the automobile industry. So much so, that he really wanted to own or direct a manufacturing company. He got his chance in 1924 when the Auburn Automobile company offered him a top level management positio [Read More...]
The Auburn Automobile company had been in business for many years. E.L. Cord, who wanted to own or direct a manufacturing company, got his chance in 1924 when the Auburn Automobile company offered him a top level management position. Cord understood [Read More...]
Auburn built various Speedster models through the years. They were also the only maker to produce speedster style bodies in significant quantities. Designed by Alan Leamy, they spanned the years from 1928 through 1936 with no models built in 1930 or [Read More...]
A previous owner purchased this car in 1962 and after a couple of decades, began a 4-year ground-up restoration. [Read More...]
This 1932 Auburn is powered by a Lycoming 8-100A, straight-8 engine. It is a four-door Delux Sedan with a body courtesy of Central Manufacturing Company. It has been certified by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club. The current owner is the second in [Read More...]
Phaeton Sedan Engine Num: GU74989
This Phaeton is finished in dark blue with burgundy accents and has been given a professional level restoration several decades ago. It has been used rather sparingly. It is trimmed with oxblood finished leather seats and a dark blue soft top. There [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2016
Speedster Coachwork: Union City Engine Num: GU58054
Sold for $85,250 at 2016 Motostalgia. Sold for $99,000 at 2016 Motostalgia. This boattail speedster is mounted on a restored chassis. It has its original steel radiator shell, hood and firewall from the cowl back. The body and fenders were created with reinforced layers of fiberglass. It has its original engine, fitted with [Read More...] By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2016
At the tender age of fifteen Errett Lobban Cord, commonly known as E.L. Cord, left school in pursuit of a job as a car salesman. After a successful stint in that profession he began working as a mechanic in a service station located in Los Angeles. This led to modifying his Model T's to include bodywork and engine modifications. He later moved to Chicago where he went back to selling vehicles. He moved to Milwaukee where he opened his own car distributor company and by 1924 was looking to purchase his own manufacturing company.
When the Auburn Automobile Company prompted him with an offer Cord a top level management position, he accepted but under conditions. He demanded that he be given 20% of the profits and complete control of the company. He also stated that he wanted the option to buy the company once it recovered. The partners, at this point, were on the verge of bankruptcy, so they accepted the offer.
Cord had a profound knowledge of marketing and was very business savvy. During his career he purchased Duesenberg, cab companies, Aircraft Company, and a New York shipyard. By 1932 he purchased controlling interests in the Aviation Corp, which later became American Airways and is currently known as American Airlines.
His fortunes turned during the mid-1930's as the stock market crashed and the Great Depression brought many of his business to a bitter end.
The Auburn Company had turned a considerable profit during the 1920s but keeping up with the changing market was difficult. The cylinder wars of the early 1930s sent many companies struggling to keep up with the changing technology and mechanical advancements. Auburn answered this challenge in 1932 with the creation of their twelve-cylinder engine in 'Vee' configuration. To stimulate even more interest, the 12-160A was offered at an incredibly low price, at just under a thousand dollars. At that price it has remained in history as the lowest 12-cylinder vehicle ever produced. Many people feared that the quality of the engine or the vehicle was reflective of the price. This mindset backfired and as a result did not sell as well as intended. By years end the company had lost more than a million dollars.
The 6.5-liter Lycoming engine produced a respectable 160 horsepower and enough torque to propel the vehicle to around 100 mph. One of the most ingenious components of the vehicle was the 'Dual Ratio' differential which was operated by a dashboard lever. There were high and low ratios available for each of the three gears which improved fuel and oil consumption. The end result was less strain and wear-and-tare on the engine.
Cord had encountered problems with the Securities and Exchange Commission and fled to England in 1933. Harold Ames was left in control, though times were difficult since production had fallen nearly 85%. The 12-161A was introduced in 1933 though never achieved the desired success. The Great depression, struggling economy, and near-bankrupt company were part of the problems.
The Auburn 12-160A Speedster body was the most exclusive of the offering. With its low price tag, the vehicles were a bargain. Tough times and consumer fears were its ultimate demise and its potential was never realized. By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
In 1932 a total of 11,347 Auburns were shipped from their factory.
Sometimes referred to as a ‘Baby Duesenberg', the Model 8-100A Auburn is a masterpiece of automotive design excellence.
Auburn strove to provide a stylish and innovative automobile to the public at an affordable price. Despite the depression, the talent of designers Gordon Buehrig and Alan Leamy inspired the designs of E.L. Cord's Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company to produce some of the most stunning examples of classic automobile design.
The model 8-100A was an 8 cylinder with 100 horsepower. A custom model, the 8-100 A signified that it was custom, with added features like a Columbia dual ratio rear axel, chrome headlights and taillights, and ride control.
A real eye catcher, the 8-100A, the custom model 4-door sedan cost an average of $1,145 in 1932.
Most Auburn models came with the Lycoming 8-cylinder engine along with Midland steel-draulic brakes. The engine output was rated at 100 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and had a 268.6 cubic inch displacement. The choice of making a Columbia two-speed rear axle standard equipment on all models was one of the few changes made to the 1932 models. Several Auburn models came with a 12 cylinder engine, and others were fitted with hydraulic brakes. Besides the 7 passenger sedan, all 8-100 A models came with a 127' wheelbase, freewheeling and the Bijur chassis lubricating system. 1932 was the first year for the Startix, an automatic feature that would start the engine whenever the ignition was turned on.
Fortune applauded the 1932 Auburn as ‘The biggest package in the world for the price.'By Jessica Donaldson
In 1928 Auburn introduced two Lycoming-powered eight-cylinder engines, one rated at 88 horsepower and the other at 115 horsepower. These became the bases for the 8-88 Model and the 8-115 Model; their designation obviously in reference to the engine. These new models were given hydraulic drum brakes to aid in stopping power and to help keep the Speedsters in the driver's control.
The styling was performed by either Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky or possibly Al Leamy. Al Leamy was a recent addition to the Auburn staff and would become famous in the years to come, with the design of the L-29 Cord automobile.
The Speedster models were very elegant and eye-catching. They featured hood louvers, a raked windshield, twin side-mounted spares, and a boattail rear-end.
The Model 8's were given a wide-ratio three-speed gearbox and rested on either a 125- or 130-inch wheelbase, depending on the model. The 8-115 had the larger size.
1929 brought few changes to the Speedsters; they were now known as the 8-90 and the 8-120. The naming scheme varied slightly from prior years, as horsepower was not rated at 96 and 125 respectively, but the names did not necessarily match. This increase in power was due to a change in the fuel system.
1929 was a great year for the Auburn 8 Models, and enjoyed record sales numbers. The company chose to make minimal changes for the following year, as the cars were selling well and most of their attention was diverted to the upcoming front-wheel drive Cord models.
In 1930 horsepower again improved, now rated at 100 for the smaller eight. The name 'Speedster' no longer appeared as part of the Model 8 name. It would re-appear the following year (In 1931), as the company wanted to put emphasis on performance.
The larger eight-cylinder engine was dropped, as was both of the six-cylinder engines. The 8-95 Model was bored-out to 268.6 cubic-inches and brought about the 8-98 model (and featured 98 horsepower). It was available in either Standard or Custom guise. The Custom line had an 'A' in the name to help distinguish it from the Standard line (appearing as 8-98A) and featured a free-wheeling, heavy, X-braced frame. Other options included dual-ratio rear axle, wire wheels, upgraded interior in hardware and fabric, and extra moldings.
Thanks in part to the onset of the Great Depression, the 8-98 sold for $350 less than the prior 8-95 Sedan of the 1930s. The Sedan sold for $995 while the Speedster for $945. Some experts say that the construction was not as solid as prior years, plus the Lockheed Hydraulics were replaced by Midland 'Steel-draulic' mechanical brakes. Still, Fortune reported the Auburn Model 8's as 'the biggest package in the world for the price.'
In 1932, the Styling remained mostly unchaged; mechanically, things were different. A new Startix automatic starter was added; Custom models were fitted with Delco ride regulations which were shock absorbers that were adjustable from the driver's compartment. This allowed a softer or firmer ride depending on the drivers needs at the time. Custom models also were given a vacuum-controlled two-speed axle known as Dual Ratio. This also gave drivers the freedom of selecting a 4.54:1 or 3.00:1 gear ratio. The 4.54 offered better performance while the 3.00:1 had better economy.
The Free-wheeling option, which had previously cost $85, was now standard on both the Custom and Standard models.
With all these mechanical improvements to the vehicle, it was amazing that prices continued to decrease. The Speedster sold for $845, a full $100 from the previous year.
In 1933, a Salon version was added to both the 8- and 12-cylinder series. By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2008
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