1932 Auburn 12-160A

Born from the roots of the Eckhart Carriage Company, Auburn's history dates back to 1904. The early years were prosperous but by the 1920s, the competition had become fierce and, by 1924, Auburn had fallen on hard times. Errett Loban Cord entered the scene and took the company into the pinnacle of its golden years. It became part of the Auburn Cord, and Duesenberg family and (without question) produced some of the finest cars of this era. They were not only fast, they were elegantly styled and among the very best in American automotive design.

The Auburn Twelve was produced for 1932 and 1933, with the unsold cars being re-titled and sold into the 1934 model year. It was a bold and daring move for Auburn, as automobile markets sank drastically in the wake of the declining economy. Built by Lycoming (another of Cord Corporation's companies), the twelve-cylinder engine, designed by chief engineer George Kublin, had a narrow 45-degree V angle engine block and a displacement size of 391.6 cubic-inches. The four main bearings supported the crankshaft and two carburetors metered fuel to the engine, one per cylinder bank. The engine offered 160 horsepower which was the highest specific output per cubic-inch of any of Detroit's multi-cylinder engines of the day. It had ingenious combustion chamber with nearly vertical pockets. A single camshaft located in the engine's V drove the valves' horizontally located stems operated directly by rocker arms riding on the cam. The valves were enclosed in separate castings that could be removed without disturbing the cylinder heads, making service much easier than conventional setups.

To cope with the power produced by the engine, the Auburn was given a rugged X-braced frame with additional front members. Stopping power was courtesy of four-wheel internally-expanding Lockheed drum brakes. They had a newly developed Columbia 2-speed rear-end, effectively giving the car six forward speeds, as well as cockpit adjustable shock absorbers and a Startix system that automatically restarted the engine if it stalled.

The Auburns were stylish, modern and powerful built during a difficult period in history. To showcase the ability of the Auburn, factory driver Eddie Miller set 31 American stock car speed records at Muroc Dry Lake in December of 1932 in trials observed by the AAA, including covering 500 miles at an average of 113.57 mph, which was faster than Fred Frame's winning speed at the Indianapolis 500 that year. The car Miller chose to set those records as a 12-160 Speedster. Despite the proven performance and undeniable grace and beauty, the Auburn had a price tag that began at under a thousand dollars, which was less than half the price of a comparable Cadillac V-8 and more than $2,000 below a V-12. In other words - a bargain! However, this tactic was part of its downfall, as buyers wrongly assumed that such a low-priced V-12 could not be worth the price.

Among the memorable bodystyles was the Speedster, which was the work of Al Leamy, a young designer hired by Cornelius Van Ranst at E.L. Cord's suggestion in 1928. He was initially employed to work on the Duesenberg Model J and Cord Front Drive L-29, before tasked with creating Auburn's 1931 and 1932 models.

The 1932 Auburn Twelve (12-160) rested on a 132 inch wheelbase and was available as a Speedster, coupe, cabriolet, brougham, sedan, and Phaeton. The 12-160 Coupe had a base price of $975 while the 12-160A sold for $1,105. The 'A' added upgraded options and trim.


by Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2019

Related Reading : Auburn 12 History

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 Ts to include bodywork and engine modifications. He later moved to Chicago where he went back to selling vehicles.....
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Related Reading : Auburn 12 History

An exceptional value for their day, the Auburn was the least expensive marque in the Cord Empire that also comprised Duesenberg. Priced at %241,250, the Auburn was a spectacular value for a twelve-cylinder automobile. From 1927 to 1938 the AuburnCordDuesenberg Company manufactured hand-built custom vehicles of the highest quality in Auburn Indiana. Rated at 160 horsepower, the 1932 Auburn 12-160A....
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1932 Vehicle Profiles

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Speedster

Frank and Morris Eckhart of the Eckhart Carriage Company were responsible for founding the Auburn Automobile Company in 1900 and by 1903 they produced their first car. It was a small center-engine chain-driven one-cylinder runabout with nothing but t....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Sedan

The group formed by Errett Lobban Cord was one of the most creative in American automotive history. They were responsible for the Duesenberg J in 1928, the Cord L-29 in 1929 and the Auburn V12 in 1932. The 391 cubic-inch V12 engine developed 160 hors....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Phaeton Sedan

Chassis Num: 1572

In the 1930s E.L. Cord's Auburns offered multi-cylinder performance and dramatic styling at a price that was noticeable lower than that of many other luxury cars. This V-12 convertible Phaeton, with a Lycoming-built V-12 engine and a 2-speed rear axl....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Phaeton Sedan

This car is Adam Leam's design, known as the 'Baby Duesenberg.' It has a Lycoming twelve-cylinder overhead-valve engine, with 160 horsepower, and a Columbia two-speed differential. The price new in 1932 (during the height of the Great Depression) was....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Coupe

This Auburn Coupe is one of only four known to exist. The Auburn Twelve cylinder line was introduced in 1932 and was the least expensive twelve cylinder automobile ever marketed. The Auburn Company had hoped that marketing a twelve cylinder vehicle i....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Sedan

This 1932 Auburn 12-160A Sedan has been driven only 8800 miles since new. It was purchased in 1932 by Mr. Robert Heinemann of Hamiliton, Ohio. It was properly stored and maintained for several decades by the original owner. It is believed to be the l....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Speedster

Automobile enthusiasts Baron Jr., Miles, and Sam Collier of New York's Collier Advertising dynasty were instrumental in forming the Airmobile Racing Club of America in the 1930's. This 1932 Auburn Speedster was owned by Sam Collier who nicknamed the ....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Phaeton Sedan

Chassis Num: BB338

This Model 12-160A has a two-tone red color scheme with orange pinstriping and a tan canvas top and matching cover for the rear-mounted trunk. The car is fitted with Trippe driving lights, and dual side-mount spares that carry mirrors at the top. The....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Speedster

Chassis Num: 12-160A 1991 E
Engine Num: BB 1216

Alan Leamy designed the Auburn speedster at the young age of 28, and George Kublin, Auburn's chief engineer, designed its 160 horsepower Lycoming V12 engine. The engine featured dual Stromberg downdraft carburetors and dual exhausts. To highlight the....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Speedster

The Auburn automobile is often referred to as an automotive bridesmaid. The cars offered beguiling good looks, spirited performance, sterling reliability and great value. But the car always existed in the shadows of its brother companies Cord and Due....[continue reading]

1932 Auburn 12-160A vehicle information

Phaeton Sedan

In 1932, E.L. Cord's Auburn Automobile Company launched a luxurious V12-engined car to compete with offerings from Lincoln, Pierce-Arrow, and Cadillac. Designed by chief engineer George Kublin, the narrow 45-degree V12 produced 160 horsepower from 39....[continue reading]

Speedster
 
Sedan
 
Phaeton Sedan
Chassis #: 1572 
Phaeton Sedan
 
Coupe
 
Sedan
 
Speedster
 
Phaeton Sedan
Chassis #: BB338 
Speedster
Chassis #: 12-160A 1991 E 
Speedster
 
Phaeton Sedan
 

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1932 12-160A
$1,295-$8,125
1932 Auburn 12-160A Price Range: $1,105 - $1,295

$805 - $1,005
$975 - $1,275

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Auburn
1937Ford (942,005)Chevrolet (815,375)Plymouth (566,128)
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)1,263
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)6,316
1934Ford (563,921)Chevrolet (551,191)Plymouth (321,171)7,770
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)11,347
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)34,228
1930Ford (1,140,710)Chevrolet (640,980)Buick (181,743)12,985
1929Ford (1,507,132)Chevrolet (1,328,605)Buick (196,104)23,509
1928Chevrolet (1,193,212)Ford (607,592)Willys Knight (231,360)12,899
1927Chevrolet (1,001,820)Ford (367,213)Buick (255,160)14,515

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