1935 Auburn 851 news, pictures, specifications, and information
The supercharged Auburn Speedster was introduced in 1935 and this example was #9 in production. The Speedster was an effort by designer Gordon Buehrig and engineer August Duesenberg to save the struggling car company. Alas it turned out to be Auburn's final glory.
The 851 Series Speedster was powered by a 280 cubic-inch in-line, eight-cylinder engine fitted with a Schwitzer-Cummings blower developing 150 horsepower. The car sold new for $2,245 and could achieve 100 mph right out of the showroom. The car sits on a 127-inch wheelbase and weighs 3,706 pounds. This example has been restored to the original color and interior.
About 600 Speedsters were produced during the 1935-1936 model years before Auburn ceased operations.
Chassis Num: 33094E
Engine Num: GH4309
There were only 500 Speedsters of the Auburn 851 created during 1935 through 1936. In October of 1937, E.L. Cord sold his Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg holdings and brought a sad close to a very prominent set of marques.
This 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster has chassis number 33094E and engine number GH4309. It has a two-speed Columbia Rear-end, three-speed manual gearbox, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. It sits atop a 127-inch wheelbase, right-hand drive configuration, which is propelled by a 150 BHP 279 cubic-inch supercharged L-head Inline eight-cylinder engine. It was offered for sale at the 2006 Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach where it was estimated to sell for $350,000-$425,000.
The car carries its original speedster body with matching engine and serial numbers. It has traveled minimal miles since new and is in concours award-winning condition, thanks to its recent comprehensive restoration.
On auction day, the car was left unsold.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
Manufactured in Auburn, Indiana, the Auburn Company first produced wagons in 1877 and started manufacturing automobiles in 1903. The 1935 Auburn features a Lycoming manufactured 280 cubic-inch inline eight engine that developed 150 horsepower and a top speed of 104 miles per hour when equipped with the Schwitzer-Cummings supercharger. Coachwork was inspired by designer Gordon Buehrig. Auburn became part of the E.L. Cord family of cars - Auburn, Cord & Dusenberg. Auburn production ended in 1936.
The famous driver, Ab Jenkins, set a speed record driving an 851 at an average of 100 miles per hour for a 12 hour period.
High bid of $130,000 at 2009 Worldwide Auctioneers. (did not sell)
Sold for $137,500 at 2010 RM Auctions
Errett Lobban Cord became Auburn's General Manager in 1924. One of his acts of genius was to liven up unsold models sitting in the lots of the small town's factory. The new paint schemes with brilliantly nickel-plated trim coupled with savvy marketing tripled car sales in each of the following three years. His skills were tested again during the early 1930s when the world slipped into the Great Depression. It would ultimately destroy businesses from coast to coast. The Indiana business remained strong thanks to an offering of skillfully styled, well-engineered, and well-built products. In 1935, the company offered an optional Switzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger. This increased output by 30 percent to a remarkable 150 horsepower on the Auburn-Lycoming eight-cylinder engine. This, coupled with the newly restyled styling by the brilliant young designer, Gordon Buehrig, brought the Auburn cars to a new level. Buehrig redesigned the front end with a new grille and hood line. Auburn's signature new feature for 1935 was the supercharging of the top-of-the-line models. Buehrig also incorporated the external exhaust that had become a symbol for supercharged engines, an image made famous largely from the Model SJ Duesenberg.
This 1935 Auburn 851 SC Convertible Coupe has a 280 cubic-inch side valve eight-cylinder supercharged engine rated at 150 horsepower. There is a three-speed manual gearbox, Columbia two-speed rear end, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. It was fully restored in the late 1990s and remains in superb condition. The odometer reads just under 19,905 miles, which is believed to be correct from new. Some of the features of this car include engine tuned dash, dual wipers, fold down windshield, side mount spare, stainless exhaust, and chrome wire wheels with wide white wall tires. It is equipped with complete polished stainless steel exhaust system from the front to rear, rumble seat, and Trippe Speedlights.
In 2009, this 851 SC Convertible Coupe was offered for sale at the Houston Classic Auction in Seabrook, Texas, presented by Worldwide Auctioneers. The lot was estimated to sell for $160,000 - $180,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had sold for $130,000, plus buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2011
Chassis Num: 33222E
Sold for $506,000 at 2007 RM Auctions
Sold for $770,000 at 2015 RM Auctions
When the Auburn Boattail Speedster was introduced, it carried a price tag of $2,245 which meant about a $300 loss for the company. The reasoning behind this method was that the attractive car would lure buyers into the showroom, who may purchase the less expensive, but more profitable, models.
This example is a 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster that has been dubbed 'The Arlington Speedster.' It was owned by Charles G. Arlington from 1905 through 1989. Arlington was from North Hollywood, California and was a prominent radio and television announcer in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He was the owner of this car, and its sibling, which was separated by only one digit on the serial number. Both cars were restored to high standards by Arlington while in his care.
Both of Arlington's cars appeared in many movies and magazines. Eventually, both cars were sold with one going to Phil Hedback of Indianapolis who kept the car for twenty years before donating it to the ACD Museum in 1987. The other car, this example with chassis number 33222E, used this car as a model for replicas that he produced. The replicas were built from 1967 through 1975 with a fiberglass body and a variety of Ford V8 engines.
The car was treated to a restoration in the mid-nineties and was later judged by the Classic Car Club of America as a 1st Place Price example.
This example was offered for sale at the 2007 RM Auctions held in Meadow Brook where it was expected to sell between $450,000 - $550,000. The restoration is still very fresh and it is one of the nicest, most original, and well preserved examples in existence. At auction, bidders felt the same way and energetically bid the selling price up to $506,000.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2007
The third generation of Auburn Speedster, the model 851, included 150 horsepower supercharged straight 8 Lycoming motor with a dual ratio rear axle. While these cars were guaranteed to go over 100 mph and, indeed, set 70 new stock car speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the real sensation was the swoopy body styling. The design is actually a reworking of leftover 1931 to 1933 Speedster bodies performed by master designer Gordon Buehrig. Priced at $2,245, approximately 180 of these sensational cars were built in 1935 and 1936.
Priced at $2,245, the elegant Auburn Speedster was a loss leader intended to stimulate showroom traffic. It was introduced in 1928. After Auburn discontinued its V12 models, Gordon Buehrig was called in to design a car from leftover Speedster bodies. The long-hooded front was made to conform to the new 851 sedans he had already designed. The rear retained the Speedster's pointed boat tail, which, along with pontoon fenders, V-type windshield, cutout doors and four showy chrome plated exhaust pipes on the left side, contributed to a rakish appearance. With racing driver Ab Jenkins at the wheel, the Auburn 851 Speedster set more than 70 speed records, and at one time, held all U.S. stock-car speed records up to 24 hours and 15,000 miles. A dashboard plaque on each car contained a signed guarantee that it had been driven to more than 100 mph before shipment. This example was presented to Clark Gable as a birthday present, and has been owned by its current owner since 1973.
The 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster was designed by Gordon Buehrig and is considered one of the most beautiful cars ever built. The shape of the front bumpers, the sweep of the pontoon front fenders, the rake of the grill and the windshield, the swoop of the belt molding past the driver's compartment to the rear, and the teardrop rear fenders from a design that has endured the generations. There is more than just styling to this automobile. From the hood are four pipes that signify Supercharging coming from the Lycoming 150 horsepower, 289 cubic-inch, straight-eight engine. Each Boattail Speedster carries a certification by Land Speed Record holder Ab Jenkins that this automobile was driven to 100.1 miles per hour prior to shipment.
Only 146 of the Speedster model were produced in 1935.
The 2004 ACD Western Meet Best of Show, winner of the Ab Jenkens award for the Best Auburn, 1st place.
Division Primary and 1st place Division Senior, Multiple Award Winning 150 hp 280 cu. in. inline flathead eight-cylinder engine wîth Schwizer-Cummins supercharger, Columbia two-speed rear end and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 127'
Errett Lobban Cord knew humdrum cars would not cut it; if a car was to sell, it would need to have sizzle. When he stepped in to save the Auburn Motor Car Company in 1924, production and sales had fallen to a critical level and the company teetered on the verge of bankruptcy. Cord took a number of unsold Auburns being stored at the manufacturing facility, gave them stylish paint schemes and extra nickel plating and proceeded to watch sales recover.
This was the sizzle Auburn desperately needed.
On later model Auburns, engine horsepower was boosted which had the effect of creating excitement among Auburn dealers. In terms of sales, Auburn was soon taking on long-established marques like Packard, Peerless and Stutz. Únfortunately, the depression hit Auburn sales right where it hurt most, in the balance sheet.
It is ironic that the company produced what many consider to be its ultimate masterpiece in 1935, just as the end was drawing near: the 851 Supercharged Speedster.
As such, it is a testimonial to the fighting spirit of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company, and to the legendary talent of one of greatest designers of the time.
Auburn had invested heavily in the largely new Al Leamy designed 1934 models. Although they sold better than the 1933's had, they were not the salvation the company needed. Worse still, Harold Ames, E.L. Cord's right hand man, hated the look of the cars. As a result, Ames' boss, Lucius B. Manning, decided he was just the man to solve the problem, and sent him to Auburn, putting him in charge of the company.
Clearly, a new look was desperately needed. With little money available, a completely new car was out of the question. Once again, the Ames called upon Gordon Buehrig to pull the figurative rabbit out of the hat. And once again, he delivered. Buehrig redesigned the front end of the cars, wîth a new grill and hood line. Auburn's signature new feature for 1935 was supercharging on the top-of-the-line models. Buehrig incorporated the external exhaust, which the American public had come to identify wîth supercharged engines, largely because of the mighty Model SJ Duesenberg.
Although the new 851 (and the next year's 852) models were certainly flashy enough, the 'new' was more than skin deep. The chassis was mostly carried over, although some updates were made. The car was fitted wîth a Lycoming-built straight-eight engine equipped wîth a new supercharger designed by Kurt Beier from Schwitzer-Cummins. In addition, the trusted and durable Columbia two-speed rear axle was fitted, allowing lower gearing for quicker acceleration, combined wîth a higher final drive ratio for improved top speed.
Still, something dramatic was needed to stimulate traffic in the showrooms. Taking a page from the company playbook, and knowing that Central Body Company still had more than 100 bodies left over from the 1933 speedster program, Ames decided that a new speedster would be the perfect attention-getter for the new line.
Ames, again, tapped Gordon Buehrig to design the new speedster. Buehrig decided to base the new design on a Duesenberg speedster he had designed for Weymann. The top, doors, windshield, and cowl could be used as-is, but a new tail would have to be made and the cowl would require modification to blend wîth the new 1935 front end. Finally, he added a stunning new set of pontoon fenders made up from multiple stampings of earlier Auburn front fenders.
The result was breathtaking, and the new car was soon seen everywhere from auto shows to newspapers to spark plug ads. To a public weary of the Depression, the new Auburn Speedster was automotive hope personified. Here was a car everyone could identify with, dream about, and wish for. It became, in many ways, the rolling icon of the art deco era.
Oddly enough, it was not a big seller, and dealers resisted taking the speedsters. While they proved to be excellent for public relations, in a sense they did their job too well, as the customers who were drawn to the showroom bought the more practical sedans or convertibles.
Auburn 851 Speedsters did not just look fast, they were fast! To prove this, famed race driver Ab Jenkins sat behind the wheel of an 851 Speedster and was the first American to set a 100 MPH average for a 12-hour period endurance record in a completely stock 851SC speedster. As a result, each Speedster built carried a dash plaque attesting to its over l00 MPH capability, bearing Ab Jenkins' signature.
Priced at $2,245 when new, estimates peg Auburn's loss per speedster at about $300 for every car built. But the logic behind Cord's decision was that this sleek model attracted customers to come in and purchase less expensive, but more profitable models. As a consequence, very few speedsters were built, making them highly prized today.
The current owner purchased the car from long time owner Fred Zaidian through Stan Gilliland of Auburn Cord Parts Company in Wellington, Kansas.
Notably, Mr. Zaidian owned the car for some 46 years before the Auburn was sold to the current owner.
The Auburn was on display at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum during much of the 1980's before being moved on to Auburn-Cord Parts for a much needed restoration. Únfortunately, financial difficulties befell the Zaidian estate, requiring the sale of this automobile.
When the current owner purchased the Auburn it was complete, but quite unpresentable. It carried a certification (# A-150) from the A-C-D club as being a No. 1 - authentic Auburn Speedster wîth all numbers matching. In 2001, the current owner commissioned a show quality restoration by noted restorer Mark Clayton of Clayton Restorations of Castle Rock, Colorado.
The results - in black - are stunning, and at one of the car's first showings it won the prestigious Best of Show award at the annual West Coast meet of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club held in October 2004.
The following is a roster of the car's awards:
--West Coast - Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club 2004 Best of Show
--West Coast - Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club 2004 Best Auburn
--Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club 2004 1st Place, Primary, Speedster
--Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club 2004 1st Place, Senior, Speedster
Today the car is in pristine, show condition.
Paint, chrome, and upholstery are perfect, and engine bay and chassis detailing is exemplary.
Accordingly, the Speedster must be seen to truly appreciate the quality and correctness of it in its presentation and overall condition.
This car runs as it did when first off the assembly line in Auburn, Indiana. The engine, transmission and two-speed rear axle all perform in perfect harmony.
The odometer shows less than 100 miles from the time the restoration was completed in August 2004.Source - Vehicle Owner
Founded as Eckhart Carriage Company of Auburn, Indiana in 1875, their evolution into the independent manufacturer of automobiles started in 1900. Auburn had built a following in the early depression years based on quality, flashy design, color selection, the cost (priced in lower Buick range), their speed and ease of handling. The 1935 Phaeton was offered in both supercharged and non-supercharged versions, the engine in this Auburn is a Supercharged Lycoming 150 horsepower 279 cubic-inch, straight-8 with an aluminum high compression head. This car is right-hand drive for export to Australia where the owner found it and brought it back to the US.
Started in 1903 by Frank and Morris Eckhart of Auburn, Indiana was the Auburn Motor Company. With E.L. Cord the general manager in 1925, the Auburn Motor Company made a change concentrating on style while other car manufacturing companies were devoting time to engineering. It was a very good choice for Auburn, with Cord increasing their sales 15 times as much as they were in 1924.
1935 marked the year Auburn would produce the 8-851, an eight-cylinder, 115 horsepower vehicle. With the body designed by Gordon Buehrig, a supercharged version of the Boattail Speedster was also created to attract newer customers. But with the depression, Buehrig returned to General Motors and Auburn would have to stop production and finalize its closing in the next 2 years.Kyle McMullen
Sold for $140,250 at 2008 RM Auctions
Al Leamy restyled the Auburn line-up in 1934. It was not well received and by mid-1934, production was halted and improvements began. Gordon Buehrig was given a $50,000 budget and tasked with improving the styling. The results were sensational. Changes included a handsome grille, semi-pontoon front fenders, and an enlarged hood. The ride and handling were greatly improved and the company declared in their sales brochures the latest Gordon Buehrig designs as being 'Exclusive-Distinctive-Individual.'
This 1935 Auburn 851 Cabriolet was an original vehicle prior to its show-quality restoration by a noted Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg expert. It is painted in Indiana Beige exterior and accented by its flawless chrome work. There is a burgundy convertible top, a burgundy leather interior, and a matching rumble seat. There is a flying goddess hood ornament and side emblems, dual chromed driving lights, a hard-covered side-mounted spare tire, and dual chrome side view mirrors.
In 2008, this car was brought to the 2nd Annual Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $140,000 - $165,000. Those estimates were proven accurate when the lot was sold for $140,250 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
High bid of $45,000 at 2009 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
The Auburn 8-851 was available in both regularly aspirated and supercharged forms. The straight-eight produced 115 horsepower and with the addition of the supercharged increased that to 150 bhp. There were four-wheel Bendix hydraulic drum brakes, a three-speed manual transmission and a variety of bodystyles that rested on a 127-inch wheelbase. The list includes coupe, cabriolet, Brougham, sedan, and phaeton. The supercharged versions added a very popular Speedster model that was one of the most unique and attractive vehicles of its era.
In 1934, the Auburn Company had invested in new tooling for their new line of modern and all-steel bodies. This was a very risky investment considering the world had been in a deep Financial Depression just a few years ago. Another significant move during this period was the replacement of Auburn stylist Al Leamy with the young Gordon Buehrig. Buehrig improved upon Leamy's design and focused heavily on the grille, hood, and front fenders. The new designs were introduced in 1935 and they were very well received.
This 1935 Auburn Model 851 Phaeton Sedan is powered by the naturally-aspirated eight-cylinder engine. It was once part of the noted Michigan collector Richard Kughn, who acquired it in 1974 from Elwood Griest of Livermore, California. The car was given a frame-off, no-expense-spared restoration in 1977 bringing it to show-quality. It has since accumulated a long list of awards, including National First Senior status form the Classic Car Club of America and Level One Certification by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club in 1989.
After the Carail Museum was closed, the car was purchased by the current owner in 2003. It has continued to be well maintained, cared for, and used regularly on tours throughout New England. It is painted in Glacier White with a black leather interior and rides on whitewall tires. There are dual side-mounted spared with the proper metal wheel covers.
In 2009, 851 Phaeton was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Amelia Island auction presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $75,000 - $100,000. The lot failed to sell after achieving a high bid of $45,000, which was not enough to satisfy its reserve.
In 2009, this 8-851 Custom Phaeton was offered for sale by Bonhams Auction Company at the Exceptional Motorcars and Automobilia at the Quail Lodge Resort in Carmel, Ca. The car was sold for $64,350 inclusive of buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2009
Chassis Num: 33206E
Engine Num: GG3984
Sold for $264,000 at 2009 Gooding & Company
Chassis number 33206E spent its early life in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, where it resided until 1945. Possession of the car then transferred to Mr. Robert Probst of nearby Williamsport. At some point in the cars life, the supercharged engine was replaced with a non-supercharged - but correct - engine. It was purchased by W.W. Lawrence of Manassas, Virginia in 1952 and it remained in his care until 1989.
During the 1970s, the car was given a restoration. It then went on to earn an American Automobile Club of America (AACA) National First Prize in 1981. Since then, it has won five firsts at regional AACA meets and a National Junior Award at Hershey. It was shown on May 26ht of 1982 at the East Coast Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) meet, and it earned its ACD Club certificate.
Mr. Lawrence sold the car in 1989, where it then went into three collections over the years. Its latest home was found in 2005, where it has remained ever since. Currently, it is painted in the classic Auburn Yellow and has a red upholstery. There are original exhausts and a boat-tail speedster body configuration.
In 2009, this 851 Boattail Speedster was offered for sale at the Gooding & Company auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona where it was estimated to sell for $250,000 - $350,000. The lot was sold for the sum of $264,000 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2009
Gordon Buehrig redesigned the Auburn models for 1935, bringing the Auburn cars to a new level. The front was redesigned with a new grille and hood line. Power was from a 280 cubic-inch 8-cylinder engine offering 115 horsepower. There was a three-speed manual gearbox, Columbia two-speed rear end, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. The car sold for $1,675 and was capable of traveling 102 mph.
Sold for $462,000 at 2009 RM Auctions
This 1935 Auburn 851SC Boattail Speedster was the ninth speedster built and it was the Chicago Auto Salon show car. After the show, the car was sold to a Chicago area man as a new car. He sold it in the early 1950s to Mr. Maisnick from Oak Lawn, IL. The car was lightly damaged in a garage fire - another car caught fire, but the owner was able to save the speedster and two other cars by pulling them out of the garage. He would keep the car for many years, but never got around to repairing the damage. It was purchased by John Ehresman who undertook a restoration in the mid-1980s. Upon completion, it won many awards in CCCA, AACA and ACD club judging.
The next owner was Mr. Noel Thompson via RM Auctions Inc. It was later sold to Mr. Giesecke, where it remained for several years before entering an Indiana collection in 2003.
The early examples were different from the cars that followed. The first 12 to 15 cars share certain early features, which gradually disappeared until the 15th or 16th cars, by which time they were essentially identical to the subsequent production cars. These differences include the following:
• Enclosed fender shields
• Lower rear exhaust manifold ports
• Brown steering wheels, as used on ‘34 production, as
opposed to later cars with black wheels.
• Dash trim panels carried over from 1934
• Speedsters got simpler six cylinder dash trim
• Sedan-style door handles
• Lower hood panel on S/C side is one piece with hidden
screws, requiring upholstery removal to undo nuts
(modified for easier mechanical maintenance).
In 2009, this example was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $450,000 - $650,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $462,000 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2009
A powerful Lycoming straight-8 engine, a Columbia two-speed rear axle, light body weight, and aerodynamic styling made the Auburn Speedster a snappy performer by any standard. E.L. Cord's automotive empire was built on niche marketing with a flair for the dramatic and an emphasis on innovation and high performance, all of which are certainly epitomized in this exquisite example.
The Auburn Speedsters, with their supercharged engines, were guaranteed to have been driven more than 100 miles per hour before delivery. Television and radio announcer Charles Arlington and wife actress Elizabeth Root owned this car and its twin in the 1950's. They leased the twin Speedsters for television and motion picture appearances for $95 per day. In the 1960's this car was sold to the owners who donated the car to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. They exhibited the car at the 1964 International Automobile Show at Lincoln Center in New York as part of Sports Illustrated's 'Cavalcade of the Car.'By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Chassis Num: GH5262
Engine Num: 33262H
This 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Phaeton is a Classic Car Club of America First Prize Winner and is certified by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club as a Category 1 car, correctly configured as it was delivered from the Auburn factory. Presented in maroon with a luxurious tan leather interior and a beige cloth top, its appearances is further established with chrome headlights and maroon wire wheels.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
This Auburn 851 Sedan was purchased in 1992 by a former Auburn Automobile Company employee, Lester See. He was a lifelong Auburn resident and a long time volunteer at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. He worked for the Auburn Automobile Company in the Parts Service Department from 1930 to 1938. In 1992, he purchased this Auburn Sedan and with the assistance of friends, completed a restoration.
Upon his passing in June of 2001, the vehicle was acquired by his long time and personal friends - the current owners of the car.By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Supercharged Dual Ratio Speedster
Chassis Num: 32923
Engine Num: GH 5022
Sold for $412,500 at 2011 RM Auctions
Prior to 1935, Auburn Speedsters were bodied by Union City Body Co. 'in the white' without paint, trim and hardware. The first 100 Buehrig-designed 851s carried coachwork from Union City, most were Speedster bodies.
This example is a Union City-bodied car, painted in light cream with burgundy striping, a burgundy interior and burgundy painted wire wheels. It was originally fitted with a supercharged engine complete with external exhaust pipes. The original engine, numbered GH 3934, was exchanged for the current unit, numbered GH 5022, in 1957-85 as noted in the ACD Club certification documents.
The speedster was awarded its Level 1 certification (numbered A-077) on September 18th of 1983. A high-quality, comprehensive body-off restoration was completed during the late 1990s and included an engine rebuild. In 1998, it won Best in Class honors at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance. The current owner acquired the Speedster in August 2000.
In 2011, the car was offered for sale at the Amelia Island auction presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $375,000 - $475,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $412,500, including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2011
This 1935 Auburn Model 851, Supercharged, Boat Tail Speedster was purchased over 50 years ago. The 1935-36 Speedster was designed by Gordon Buehrig and is recognized as one of the outstanding designs in the 20th Century.
The Speedster is powered by a Supercharged Lycoming Straight-8 engine and is capable of speeds over 100 miles per hour.
The car was restored to its original maroon paint formula in 2010 and 2011.
This Auburn 851 Boat Tail Speedster was purchased by the current owner in 1984 and then spent the next 25 years restoring it. The Boat Tail Speedster was built in limited quantities and at $2,000 represented a great value - a hand-built, custom-bodied, supercharged, race-proven car.
This Model 851 Speedster received an off-frame, complete restoration in 2000 and has since earned numerous awards in both club and concours competitions.
Chassis Num: 33811E
Engine Num: GH 4293
Sold for $517,000 at 2013 RM Auctions
The Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster had 150 horsepower which was sent to a Columbia dual ratio rear axle, standard equipment on the supercharged models, which provided two ratios for each gear, one low and one high. The driver could change the ratios as often as desired, while at very low speeds or at a stop, by moving the switch in the center of the steering wheel. This made the vehicle suitable for driving through crowded cities and sweeping down country lanes.
Inside each Speedster on the dashboard was a plaque inscribed, 'This certifies that this AUBURN AUTOMOBILE has been driven 100.8 miles per hour before shipment.' It was signed by David 'Ab' Jenkins, the speed record driver who achieved some of his greatest successes at Bonneville behind the wheel of a late Auburn Speedster.
This example is one of a believed total of about 150 last generation Speedsters built. It has its original frame and body, and still carries its original chassis tag applied by the factory in 1935.
It is believed that this example was shown at the New York Automobile Show. The car was purchased by a gentleman from Long Beach, California who used it until his passing several years later. It then passed through owners in California and Washington before Doug Doyle of Oregon acquired it in May of 1957. The car had been restored by then-owner Hal Resch in 1950. At the time, the damaged original engine had been replaced with a new one supplied by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company.
In the 1970s, the Auburn was acquired in a trade by Luigi Chinetti. The car was sold by Chinetti Jr. in 1984 to the Imperial Palace of Las Vegas, and it went shortly thereafter to Peter Kaus for his Rosso Bianco Museum in Aschaffenburg, Germany. The car was part of that museum until its dispersal in the early 21st century, at which time it was acquired by Ton Meijer for his daughter. Ownership later passed to a prominent collection in Texas, from which the car was acquired by its present owner. In the current ownership, the car underwent an extensive ground-up restoration. It is finished in a period-correct Ivory, while the interior was re-upholstered in maroon leather with a complementing new black top.
In 2013, the car was offered for sale in Scottsdale, Arizona by RM Auctions. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $517,000 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2013
Supercharged Dual Ratio Phaeton
In 1934, designer Gordon Buehrig was given $50,000 to move from Duesenberg's Indianapolis facility to Auburn, Indiana, to fix the Auburn Automobile Company's styling problems. It was a partly sum for an experience and respected designer to be paid, so Buehrig worked with the existing body, adding a bold grille and long hood. The cars were rushed into production in late-June of 1934. Engineering of the entire Auburn line was trusted to Augie Duesenberg and all models rode on a one-inch-longer wheelbase. The V-12 engine was dropped from the Auburn lineup and the base 280 cubic-inch eight was up 15 horsepower to 115; 150 in newly supercharged guise.
All eight-cylinder cars were badged 851, while the SC denoted the optional supercharger. Despite a 20-percent rise in sales to 6,136 units, it was not enough for the company to stave off the rising tide of red ink. The Auburn lineup remained virtually unchanged for 1936, the company's final year.
This vehicle was owned by a Rhode Island Judge for a long period of time. The current owner had it restored in late 2012. In the depths of the Great Depression, Auburn offered more automobile for the money than any other American manufacturer. Gordon Buehrig redesigned the Auburn's exterior. It featured a long hood and a body color radiator surround that emphasized the body's length and the 127 inch wheelbase of this 8-cylinder 851 model. Cord Corporation controlled Lycoming and it from there that Auburn sourced the Lycoming GG-series 281, 280 cubic-inch, supercharged, straight eight with 150 horsepower. Auburn offered six standard bodies. Of them, this convertible sedan with removable center posts, was the top of the line, costing $1,368 at the factory without options.
One of the first prewar American Sports Cars, the 851 Auburn Speedster was stylish, powerful, and generally speaking, affordable. The Speedster was built between 1929 and 1937. Up until 1935, many of Auburn's models were powered by Lycoming's straight 8 and V12 engines, but as these became unavailable Auburn had to redesign a new engine based on its own straight 6. Duesenberg helped the company re-tool to include two more cylinders to create the straight 8 that is seen here. At the same time, Gordon Buehrig, the ex-Duesenberg designer, made small changes to the Speedster design. He reduced the ornamentation on the car and added a more flowing touch, especially with its recessed radiator. The Auburn company's 40-year history is highlighted with these 851 and 852 Speedsters, the last cars made by Auburn before the factory shut down in 1937.
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 all aspects of design and manufacturing. The depression of the late 1920's had a major impact on Cord and some of his outside business ventures, though the Auburn Company did manage to turn a profit and continue its production. Production ceased in 1937, but the Auburn had sealed its place in history with Packard, Franklin, Pierce Arrow, and others. And, it was the Speedster that will be most remembered.
The present owner found this car in May 2011 after it sat untouched since the 1960's. A thorough restoration was performed and completed and shown for the first time in 2014.
Supercharged Dual Ratio Cabriolet
The Great Depression affected the sales of Auburns, but the marque stayed afloat due to E.L. Cord's marketing abilities. He was able to redesign models economically and introduce new models. Despite these efforts, Auburn succumbed to the financial realities of the Depression and ceased operations in 1937.
The 851 used a 150-horsepower straight-eight supercharged Lycoming engine coupled to a two-speed rear end; one range provided quick acceleration while the other improved the top speed. All 851s were guaranteed to have been test driven at over 100 mph before delivery. Gordon Buehrig designed the car with minimal ornamentation. He created a flowing design, especially noticeable around the recessed radiator. They were acclaimed for both their art deco styling and outstanding performance.
In the Deluxe models, the performance was enhanced with a Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger which increased the output from the straight-eight engine, to 150 horsepower. This engine coupled with a Columbia two-speed rear axle provided both quick acceleration and a top speed of 100 mph.
This car was original sold in Portland, OR, where it spent most of its life. The current owners purchased it in 1974 and completed its restoration in 2002. The current owners continue to enhance the restoration with special attention to mechanical reliability.
It has won numerous awards at the ACD National Meet. The owners participated in the 2012 AACA Sentimental Tour, driving the car over 600 miles in a tour of the Shenandoah Valley.
Auburn's last series of Speedsters were the well-known 851/852 models, sold in 1935 and 1936 respectively. Approximately 600 of both were produced with an original price of $2,245.
The supercharged Speedsters are instantly recognizable due to the shiny, flexible external exhaust pipes they shared with the supercharged version of the Duesenberg Model J, which indicated the presence of a Schwitzer-Cummins blower. This boosted horsepower of the Auburn straight eight to 150. Designer Gordon Buehrig, who had taken over from Alan Leamy, also made changes to the windshield, body sides, fenders and top assembly.
Each new Speedster was delivered with a plaque affixed to the dashboard certifying that the car had been driven at over 100 miles per hour. The plaques were signed by David Abbott 'Ab' Jenkins, Auburn's test driver and a record-setting race driver.
This car has been in the same family for two generations. It features the original paint color 'Cigarette Cream.' This was the color of the packaging of Old Gold cigarettes, a brand so popular at the time that a U.S. Army camp in France during World War II was named after it.
Custom Dual Ratio Coupe
Chassis Num: 1407M
Engine Num: GG 3199
Sold for $77,000 at 2014 RM Auctions
The coupe model shares the same body as the convertible cabriolet, but its leather-covered roof was fixed in place by a wooden frame and heavy bolts. The rumble seat lid was reversed to form a lid for a trunk. The result was a car with the good looks of a cabriolet but with the all-weather comfort of a closed car, with enough storage for comfortable touring.
Over the years, many coupes have been 'cut' into faux cabriolets. Thus, only a handful of the Coupe still exist. This particular example is the up-level Custom example, with chromed headlights, dual side-mounted spares with hard covers, a Flying Lady hood ornament, side-mount mirrors, and the Dual Ratio rear axle, which allows the transmission to be driven in either a low or high range, depending on the road conditions.
This example has completed five CCCA CARavans, in New England (2001), Old South (2004), Upper Midwest (2005), Indiana (2007), and St. Louis/Memphis (2009). It carries CCCA Senior badge number 2486S.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2014
Supercharged Dual Ratio Cabriolet
Chassis Num: 33826 F
Engine Num: GH 4465
Sold for $220,000 at 2014 RM Auctions
Founded in Auburn, Indiana, the Eckhart Carriage Company would open its doors for business in 1874. Just 50 years later, what would become Auburn Automobile Company would be in the midst of hard economic times. Enter Errett Lobban Cord. Still utilizing the Auburn name, Cord's team would turn the struggling company into one of the most imaginary of its day. Even to the point when production ceased in 1937, the Cord and Auburn remained a striking representation of the future.
The popularity of Auburn, especially its Speedster would be unchallenged. There was absolutely no doubt Alan Leamy and Gordon Buehrig had turned the struggling Auburn Automobile Company into a portal into the future. Unfortunately, the future was being gripped too tightly by the present. And the present was an ever-deepening depression. Artistic style didn't translate into automobiles sold when priced out of reach for those barely able to keep the lights on and food on the table. Auburn, and Cord for that matter, were in decline.
Despite the downward trend of the company, nobody could accuse Auburn for not trying, and for not going down without a fight. The simple fact of the matter was Cord and his team were willing to fight tooth and nail for their kind of automobile. Unfortunately, the economy and some questionable business decisions would prove the greater combatant.
Fearlessness and elegance would have to be two adjectives used to describe Auburn throughout the 1930s. In spite of the company's struggles, perhaps its greatest works of art would come rolling out of the factory in Indiana.
Auburn had its clientele. Such designs as the Boattail Speedster and the Cabriolet would be instant hits with the Hollywood elite. Unfortunately, there wouldn't be enough of the Hollywood elite to keep the company afloat; had there been it is nigh on impossible to tell what might have been.
Radical met elegance; aggressiveness met simple and laid-back. This was never more true than with its supercharged Eight Cabriolet.
By 1934, Auburn's decline was in full motion. There had been strong signs in the first couple of years after that tragic Black Tuesday, but they would be gone by the end of 1933. So too would Al Leamy. He would leave amidst some controversy, leaving just Buehrig and his team to help right the ship.
Leamy had helped before he left the company. He had produced some new designs and Buehrig would concentrate on ways of making them better following Al's departure. Having partnered with Duesenberg in the past, Leamy's design would borrow some of its lines from Duesenberg models.
The tall, narrow nose and sloping, wide rear end would be simply elegant and straight-forward. The drooping front fender and small touches of chrome would all be touches of design genius from Buehrig. But it wouldn't end there. Buehrig would take the appealing aerodynamic look achieved by the grill and fender and would design beautifully-arching pontoon-style fenders out over the front fenders. The whole concept would appear both at speed and at rest at the same time.
While Auburn's design team were busy creating artistic masterpieces in which to contain the engine and the rest of the chassis, Augie Duesenberg and Pearl Watson would be busy producing magic joining together a Lycoming straight-eight engine, its innovative planetary drive system and a Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger.
Producing 150 heart-thumping horsepower, the L-head eight-cylinder engine was the engine offered in the Boattail Speedster. However, in an attempt to improve the numbers on the ledger, the supercharged eight-cylinder would be made available for the 851 and 851 lines of automobiles. This meant the aggressively-elegant cabriolet qualified.
One of those Series 851 Cabriolets that would get the powerful eight-cylinder engines would be chassis 33826 F. Offered for sale in 1935, Auburn was just a couple of years away from closing its doors when this particular example rolled out of the factory.
Unlike many in existence, this is a true cabriolet and would be one of the draws for Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club member Jim Miller. Miller lived in Baden, Ontario and would be quite well known for what was called his Blackhawk Collection. Over a decade ago, the current owner, another Auburn Cord Duesenberg member, would purchase the Auburn. He would quickly turn his attentions to restoring and refinishing the car in a manner that would be certainly befitting of the look of the supercharged cabriolet, but also, in a manner that would befit having been a member of the Blackhawk Collection.
Trimmed with rich red leather interior, the cabriolet would be refinished with the same color red serving as accent trim to a striking black livery. The chrome grille and accents would pop against the background and other such details, including the 'Auburn' name over the covers only add to the compelling look.
A winner of numerous awards and trophies in local and regional events, it is easy to perceive why Auburn's best days should have been before them. Instead, all we are left with are their interpretations of the future—sleek, romantic and bewitching.
Offered through RM Auctions' Hershey event, the 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Cabriolet would earn a sale price of $220,000.By Jeremy McMullen
Custom Dual Ratio Phaeton Sedan
Chassis Num: 2505H
Engine Num: GG3602
Sold for $192,500 at 2015 Bonhams
This Model 851 Custom Phaeton has been extensively restored over the course of nearly fifty years in its current ownership. It was found in the mid-1960s and acquired by him from its finder Roaring Twenties Autos, who they recall being in New Jersey. At that time it was complete but derelict. A restoration began in 1968 with a second full rebuild performed nearly 20 years later in the mid-1990s. Since that time, it has seen limited use, covering less than 100 miles since its restoration. It is finished in a burgundy hue with a tan interior.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2015
Chassis Num: 33151E
Engine Num: GH4401
Sold for $231,000 at 2011 RM Auctions
Sold for $990,000 at 2016 Gooding & Company
The 851 Speedster was designed by Gordon Buehrig and is considered one of his masterpieces and one of the most striking designs of the 1930s. The art deco Speedster is powered by a supercharged Lycoming 8-cylinder engine, delivering 150 horsepower. The 851 Speedster was the first American 'standard' road car to exceed 100 mph over 12 hours of continuous driving.
In 1969, at the age of 21, Duesenberg expert Randy Ema restored this car soon after it was delivered from Ohio to its new owner Mr. Harry Rinker, a well-known southern California collector, and Randy regularly maintained the vehicle for many years. After Rinker had owned the car for 43 years, the current owner purchased it in 2011 and undertook a restoration of its original chassis, engine and supercharger.
Chassis Num: 2952
Engine Num: GH 5426
Sold for $880,000 at 2016 RM Auctions
This 851 Speedster has an in-line 8, supercharged 282 cubic-inch, engine fitted with a Schwitzer-Cummins blower developing 150 horsepower and is equipped with a three-speed transmission all riding on a 127-inch wheelbase. It has a dual speed rear end effectively giving the car six forward gears. These cars sold new for $2,245 and could achieve 100 mph right out of the showroom. The car has been authenticated by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club as being original. There were only 500 851 Speedsters produced during 1935 through 1936. It was restored some thirty years ago and has won a number of first place awards over time. The current owner purchased the car in 2014 and in August 2015 completed an exacting and comprehensive restoration.
Sold for $715,000 at 2016 RM Auctions
It is believed that this Auburn 851/852 Speedster was originally delivered in California, subsequently making its way to Lincoln, Nebraska, where it was owned by a local bank president in 1939. The next known owner was George Schubert, also of Nebraska, who acquired the car in 1948. It is believed that it was later purchased by William Murray of Bloomtown, New Jersey, for whom it was restored by Stone Barn Automobile Restoration of Vienna, New Jersey. It is believed that the car was finished in the classic color combination for this model, Cigarette Cream with brown leather upholstery. After the work was completed, it was judged in CCCA National competition and was awarded its Senior First Prize, badge number 1790.
The car was later part of the Ralph Marano collection before coming into the care of its current owner.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2016
The success of the vehicles and the survival of the company up to this point were due mostly to Erret Lobban Cord. The Auburn Company had come into existence in 1877 producing wagons. In 1903 the direction of the company switched to creating automobiles, their first being a one-cylinder chain-driven runabout. The styling and diversity of the vehicles evolved over the years, as did the mechanical capabilities and technological innovations. The Great Depression had taken its toll on the Auburn Company and was headed to receivership when it was rescued by William Wrigley. Cord was recruited to assume the duties of general manager. This fast-talking, energetic, sales man, though less than thirty years old, was the right man for the job. By applying new paint to a parking lot of excess vehicles, Cord was able to sell over 750 cars in just a few months. This earned him the title of vice president and in 1926 he became president and primary stockholder of the Auburn Company.
Throughout the next few years, the Auburn/Cord Company would experience highs and lows. The L-29 featured front-wheel drive, a first in the industry.
Designer Gordon Buehrig and engine designer Augie Duesenberg were tasked with creating a new design for 1935. A V-12 Speedster was used as a starting point. The front-end, cowl, and bonnet were completely reworked. It was given a convertible body-style that was low and complimented its small side windows. The masculine look of the Auburn 851 was due in part to its teardrop headlamps, chrome exhaust pipes, pontoon fenders, and newly styled grille and hood.
Under the hood lurked a 279 cubic-inch eight-cylinder engine. An existing six-cylinder engine had been outfitted with two additional cylinders while keeping the bore and stroke the same. The result was a 115 horsepower in natural aspiration form and 150 when outfitted with the Schwitzer-Cummings supercharger.
The vehicle was put through its paces at a 24-hour endurance run in the Bonneville Salt Flats with driver, Ab Jenkins proving the vehicle was capable of exceeding 100 miles per hour.
The car was introduced in 1935 and expectations were high but sales were low. Just over 5,000 examples were sold during its initial production year. For 1936 the name was switched to 852 and this did nothing to help sales, with just 1850 vehicles sold.
Unfortunately, in 1936 the Auburn Company went out of business. The Auburn 851's exclusivity is guaranteed by it limited production. It is a wonderful creation and hinted at what might have been if the company would have stayed in business. It was unique and distinctive.
By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2006
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