A player in the early history of the American automobile, Auburn Automobile Company was founded in 1900 by Frank and Morris Eckhardt, sons of Charles Eckhardt, founder of an eponymous industrial company manufacturing horse-drawn carriages and wagons in Auburn, Indiana. Very inspired by the work of their father, the first achievements of the two brothers are essentially runabouts equipped with single-cylinder engines already access to the luxury with qualities of exceptional finishes for the time. The First World War and its batch of shortages comes to mar the success of the mark which does not know any more how to face the always growing competition. The brand was sold in 1924 to the powerful businessman Errett Cord who added Auburn to the group comprising Cord, Duesenberg and Lycoming Engines to create a behemoth of the American luxury car industry.
It was in this inter-war context that sumptuous models were created under the Auburn name, with innovative mechanics and techniques, including the introduction of V12s and compressors housed in bodies that rivaled each other in style and elegance.
The crisis of 1929 put a damper on the automotive group and especially Auburn; the decision was made to entrust the management of the brand to Lycoming Engines, a designer of automobile and then aeronautical engines.
The 851 was to be Auburn's greatest success. Its design was the result of a long study from the end of the 1920s until it was revealed to the public in 1935. In the midst of the Great Depression, it was a risky gamble to offer a top-of-the-range or even very top-of-the-range car, but Auburn took the risk and rightly so. Like many other cars of the time, it was offered in several body styles: Speedster, Sedan, Phaeton and Roadster. It was powered by an 8-cylinder, 4.6-litre engine developing 115 horsepower and up to 150 horsepower thanks to a compressor that propelled the car to more than 160 km/h (100 mph), an unthinkable feat in 1935. Designed by Gordon Buehrig, the Speedster stands out from the rest of the 851 range thanks to its characteristic "cuttlebone" or Boattail lines. The nose and the whole car in general are stretched forward to give the car a bouncy, aggressive, very sporty effect. The interior, typical of the art-deco style of the 1930s, shines with luxury but also with simplicity, with the main information in front of the driver and an elegant clock in front of the passenger.
Mechanically, apart from the unusual engine, the 851 speedster features a mechanical 3-speed gearbox operated by a first lever on the driver's right thigh. The rider behind the wheel will find a second lever that allows him to change gears, a short range for sport and a long range that multiplies the gears to create a 6-speed gearbox.
To slow down the 1700 kilos of the machine, 4 drum brakes helped by a Bendix hydraulic pump is necessary.
Guided by an elegant mascot reminiscent of the Spirit of Ecstasy, the 851 could not save Auburn from imminent bankruptcy and the end of production marked the death of the brand in 1937.
This is one of only handful of Speedster Boattail examples in Europe!
It was bought by its previous French owner in 1987. At that time, it joined the family museum composed of very nice models. The engine is running, but like many museum cars, it needs to be restarted to fully enjoy this masterpiece of the American Automobile.
This car comes for sale together with other two Auburn 851 body types completing the trio of a Phaeton, Cabriolet and Speedster!
|Engine||4.575 ccm, 152 PS, I8|
|Steering||Left Hand Drive|
|Layout||Rear Wheel Drive|
|Color - exterior||Red|
|Color - interior||Beige leather|
|Miles/Kilometers shown||525 mls|
|Chassis / VIN||33551E|
|Location - Country||Czech Rep.|
|Location - City||Hradec Kralove|
2-door speedster body type; RWD (rear-wheel drive), manual 3-speed gearbox; gasoline (petrol) engine with displacement: 4575 cm3, advertised power: 112 kW / 150 hp / 152 PS; characteristic dimensions: outside length: 4938 mm, width: 1816 mm, wheelbase: 3226 mm; reference weights: base curb weight: 1701 kg; top speed: 167 km/h (104 mph)