1933 Auburn Model 12-165

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 | Aug 2011
Vehicle Profiles
1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Sedan Brougham

In 1932, Auburn joined the ranks of Franklin, Cadillac, Packard, Pierce Arrow, Lincoln and Marmon in offering a large multicylinder prestige automobile. Of all these, Auburn offered the most car for the dollar with prices starting at a low $975. Th....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Speedster

The twelve-cylinder Auburn of the mid-1930s was an impressive machine, both in aesthetics and performance. It was driven 500 miles at over 113 mph without a stop. This means it was faster the purpose-built Indianapolis 500 race cars that competed i....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Speedster

In 1925, Errett Lobban Cord, an American who rose from used car dealer to industrial giant and at times possessed automobile, airplane and motor companies, took over the majority of shares of a previously unsuccessful automobile company by the name o....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Sedan Brougham

The Auburn V12 engine was a completely new one by Lycoming, one of the firms in Cord's group. Also new was a two-speed rear axle made by another Cord firm. An Auburn V12 set many speed records in 1932, some of which survived until after World War II.....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Phaeton Sedan

This vehicle is a 1933 Auburn Twelve Salon Phaeton Sedan fitted with a 7.6-liter V-12 engine that generates 160 horsepower. The wheelbase measures 133 inches and when new, it cost $1848. This was Auburn's most expensive car for 1933 and only 68 such ....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Limousine Body Mfg. Co.

In the depths of the Great Depression, Auburn introduced its new 'Salon' models in eight and twelve cylinders. It was introduced in 1932, and it cost under $1,000 - less than an eight-cylinder Chrysler automobile at the time. It was Auburn's top-of-t....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Sedan

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....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Speedster

Auburn began building motorcars in 1903, but for a period of 20 years the company was not hugely successful. In 1926, E.L. Cord became Auburn's general manager and the company began to grow. It was one of the few companies to have increased sales dur....[continue reading]

1933 Auburn Model 12-165 vehicle information

Salon Cabriolet

Built in Auburn, Indiana starting at the turn of the century, the Auburn automobile's glory years were those when Errett Loban Cord was in charge from the mid-1920s to the end of production in 1937. Cord had a simple formula: give buyers high style a....[continue reading]

Sedan Brougham
 
Speedster
 
Speedster
 
Sedan Brougham
 
Phaeton Sedan
 
Convertible Sedan by Limousine Body Mfg. Co.
 
Sedan
 
Speedster
 
Salon Cabriolet
 


Concepts by Auburn



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1933 Model 12-165
$1,848-$25,545
1933 Auburn Model 12-165 Price Range: $1,600 - $1,848

$1,100 - $1,350
$1,195 - $1,295

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Auburn
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)
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

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