Introduced in Indianapolis in 1902, a Marmon automobile - the famous 'Marmon Wasp' - went on to win the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911 - the same year this Marmon was built. Marmon continued to produce fine automobiles until the depression greatly reduced the sales of luxury cars. Production would end in 1933. They made a variety of models culminating in their famous V16 models introduced in 1931.
This 1911 Model 32 Speedster was introduced in 1909 and formed the basis for the famed Marmon Wasp. The Wasp won the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911 with an average speed of 74 miles per hour. The engine is a 318 cubic-inch four-cylinder producing 32 horsepower (hence the model 32 designation) coupled by a driveshaft to a three-speed transaxle mounted at the rear. It was installed on a 120-inch wheelbase chassis.
From at least 1938, this car has been owned and well maintained by antique car collectors and has participated in numerous events and tours. This Marmon has a storied history; it participated in the first Horseless Carriage Car Club tour in 1948. In 1971 it was sold to Harrah's Automobile Collection in Reno, Nevada. It remained there until the collection was sold at auction in 1985. It was restored twice by subsequent owners and was an AACA Grand National First Prize winner in 2000. It has also participated in the first Indianapolis Celebration of Automobiles in 2011 and is a very well-known automobile in the Marmon Club.
The current owner purchased it in 2011 and has had a mechanical refurbishment done under his ownership. Since it is driven regularly, for safety reasons hidden tail lights, halogen head lights, an electric horn and a starter have been added.
The Marmon brand name was manufactured by Nordyke & Marmon Company, located in Indianapolis, Indiana and produced automobiles from 1903 through 1933. The Marmon automobiles are most remembered for their impressive V-16 engine introduced during the early 1930s as well as introducing the rear-view mirror.
The Model 32 featured rear-view mirrors, and was the first vehicle ever with this feature. It is also responsible for the creation of the Wasp, the winner of the first Indianapolis 500 race. The name 'Wasp' was chosen due to its yellow color and pointed tail.
At the 1911 Indianapolis 500 race, the Marmon was the only vehicle equipped with a single seat, rather than the popular two-seat configuration. The first seat was for the driver while the second seat housed the mechanic. Many people were critical of the single seat configuration. They felt it unsafe because the driver would not be aware of other cars overtaking him. A solution was devised by the Marmon crew to install a rear-view mirror on the vehicle, the first of its kind according to many historians.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2006
Ray Harroun came out of retirement for his last and final race, the Indianapolis 500. He piloted the No. 32 Wasp into the history books. The car was equipped with Firestone tires and throughout the years Firestone tires would be used by many other vehicles capturing over 55 victories, more than any other tire company combined.