The Auburn Automobile Company started as the Eckhart Carriage Company, in Auburn, Indiana, in 1874, led by Charles Eckhart (1841 - 1915). Eckhart's two sons, Frank and Morris, had been experimenting with the idea of making automobiles long before entering the business. They would eventually move into a larger plant in 1909, allowing them to pursue their interest. The enterprise was modestly successful until materials shortages during World War I forced the plant to close.
In 1919, the Eckhart brothers sold the company to a group of Chicago area investors. The new owners were driven to revive the business, but were unable to be as profitable as hoped. In 1924, they approached Errett Lobban Cord (1894-1974), who was a highly successful automobile salesman, with an offer to run the company. E.L. Cord countered with an offer to take over completely in what was a leveraged buyout, and the Chicago group accepted. Cord would then go on to aggressively market the company's unsold inventory, and was able to complete his buyout before the end of 1925.
Many changes were made to Auburn automobiles in 1919. This included the introduction of the Auburn Beauty Six. In 1919 five Auburn Beauty Six models were available. The Model 6-39H Touring Car was priced at $1,695, the K-39 K Tourster and the 6-39 Roadster, along with two closed automobiles; the 6-39 Sedan five passenger and a 6-39 Coupe.
The Auburn Automobile Company was established in Auburn, Indiana by Frank and Morris Eckhart. The company's initial offering was a single-cylinder chain driven runabout that was priced at $800. Sales were slow and its high cost to produce meant that change was needed. In 1903, the Eckharts re-introduced their car with several changes, but still powered by a single cylinder. A short time later, the company would offer a two and a four-cylinder model and in 1912 a six-cylinder model became available.
Sales were relatively strong, yet it was not achieving the financial success required to stay in business. They were headed towards receivership when they were rescued by a group of Chicago businessmen. The group included William Wrigley of Chewing Gum and Baseball fame. In 1919, the Auburn Company was purchased by the Chicago group from the Eckhart's.
The Auburn Company under its new ownership introduced the Auburn Beauty Six. It was a streamlined, fender-less vehicle that had several improvements over the prior Auburns. The cars were marketed on a national scale and new retail outlets were obtained where Auburn had previously lacked representation. With the introduction of the Beauty-SIX, the company had a record sales year that moved more than 6,000 new Auburns. A late model year introduction was the Beauty-SIX Roadster.
In 1919, the Auburn switched to that of a Continental six-cylinder engine that had a displacement of 230.98 cubic-inches and produced 43 horsepower.
For 1922, following the post-war recession, the Country saw a 54 percent rise in production of passenger cars. Auburn, however, was not part of this resurgence. Sales were off again and only 2,308 new Auburns were sold. Auburn hoped that their Auburn Beauty-SIX Sport would help revitalize sales. It was a flashy four-passenger car with step plates, side mounted trunks and an angled dash. Power was from a Continental six-cylinder engine that displaced 224 cubic-inches and produced 55 horsepower.
By 1924, Auburn was producing six cars a day and having trouble finding buyers. Soon, hundreds of new unsold cars sat behind the factory. The company was again in need of salvation. Fortunately, the company was saved by Erret Lobban Cord, a man less than thirty-years old. He was an energetic and brilliant businessman and salesman who had started as a salesman with the Moon Automobile Company in Chicago, Illinois. In less than five years, he had become General Manager and Director at Moon.
Under Cord's direction, the Auburn cars were repainted bright two tone color combinations and plated many of the trim parts in nickel. The cars were brought to the town square and dealers were offered the cars at large discounts. Within a short period of time, Cord had managed to sell the entire old stock and associated parts.By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2010