1930 MARMON BIG EIGHT DUAL COWL PHAETON
COACHWORK BY BRIGGS
Chassis No. 41570
Two-tone green with black leather interior
Engine: L-head straight eight, 315.2ci. giving 125hp at 3,400rpm; Gearbox: four-speed; Suspension: semi-elliptic leaf springs front and rear; Brakes: Bendix four-wheel mechanical. Left hand drive.
By 1930 Marmon had abandoned its long-standing six-cylinder models (discontinued in 1929) and was offering a small engined and larger displacement eight cylinder cars. The Big Eight, which arrived in 1930 was offered on two wheelbases, 136 inch and a short 130 inch chassis. One of the best built cars in Marmon's long history, the Big Eight relied on many of Howard Marmon's earlier designs. Howard Marmon had lost control of the business in 1924 when George M. "Monty" Williams, a former General Motors executive and a major stockholder in Nordyke & Marmon, was made president. Howard Marmon, while still holding the rank of Vice President of Engineering, became progressively less involved with the company as Williams ushered in the era of "The New Marmon". He believed that success lay in the straight-eight rather than the L-head six Marmon had relied upon since 1914.
Marmon production for 1930 consisted of the Model 69, Model 79, and the new "Big Eight" series, introduced in December of '29 as a means of re-entering the high priced luxury car market the company had seemingly abandoned in the late '20s when Williams went into mass marketing of the Marmon name. In so doing, Howard Marmon felt Williams had brought about the decline of the company's prestigious image. Howard and a few of his closest engineers removed themselves from the day-to-day operations, and while Williams was building bread-and-butter cars for five years, they spent the time developing the V16.
While the Big Eight was not Howard Marmon's design, it was a sensational engine, and the first in the company's history to combine a dual carburettor with a dual downdraft manifold. The Big Eight also offered four-wheel mechanical brakes linked up with a Bendix booster to provide superior breaking capability.
The majority of bodies for the Big Eight were designed by LeBaron and furnished in the white to be completed at the Marmon factory in Indainapolis. This 1930 Dual Cowl Phaeton, however, bears a Briggs body emblem. Ralph Roberts had sold LeBaron to Briggs (one of the industry's largest coachbuilders) in 1928, and LeBaron production was moved to Detroit after which the Briggs name was seldom, if ever, used. It is believed that this striking one-off Dual Cowl Phaeton with LeBaron styling was fitted with a Briggs body plate at the request of Mr. Briggs himself who, we are told, was the original owner of the car.
The attractive design of this Dual Cowl body is enhanced by some interesting features including built-in mahogany cabinetry for the rear toneau and attractive wheel discs covering all six wheels. Until last year, the Marmon had been owned by one family since 1949. The car has a very original overall patina and the interior is believed to be the original. It is accepted by the Classic Car Club as a "Full Classic" and as such, is suitable for many touring events and shows.