1936 AUBURN MODEL 852 STRAIGHT EIGHT SUPERCHARGED 'BOATTAIL' SPEEDSTER
Chassis No. 852-35209E
Engine No. GH5349
Black with red leather interior
Engine: Lycoming V8, side valve, Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger, 279.9ci, 150bhp at 4,000rpm; Gearbox: three speed and reverse; Suspension: front, non-independent, rear, live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, hydraulic dampers; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic drum. Left hand drive.
Frank and Morris Eckhart of Auburn, Indiana started the Auburn Motor Company in 1903. As their business grew, they acquired more dealerships to stay ahead of the competition, but by the mid-Twenties size had caught up with them and they were in need of new leadership. In 1925, E.L. Cord became general manager and set out to save the company. Under Cord, the new Auburn became a very different company, emphasizing design when others in the industry concentrated on engineering. Body styles were changed every few years to keep sales up.
By 1931 Auburn was able to sell a very appealing package for far less than the competition. Their fully equipped V12 cars could be purchased for well under $2,000 and the V8s were cheaper still. By 1934 the Depression had taken its toll and sales were falling. As a remedy, Auburn returned to the six cylinder model and curtailed production of the V12. Later, in 1935 they introduced the Model 851 'Boattail' Speedster in an effort to boost sales with a car that offered both style and performance with a younger, sportier image. It is considered by many auto enthusiasts to be among the most beautiful cars of the Classic Era. With a tapered Speedster tail designed by Gordon Miller Buehrig, the model was available with a new optional supercharger for the eight cylinder engine that boosted output to an unprecedented 150 brake horsepower and powered the car from 0-60mph in a remarkable 15 seconds. Each of the 146 supercharged Speedsters produced carried a dash plaque indicating the speed at which the car had been tested. To promote their speed, A.P.B. Jenkins drove a stock Auburn on the Bonneville Salt Flats, breaking the American class speed record. Auburn won top prizes at the Concours d'Elegance held at the Universal Exposition in Brussels thus promoting their elegant styling. While the Speedster created huge demand, it transpired that the company still lost considerable money on each one.
The Model 852 Speedster of 1936 was virtually identical to that of the 851 as it was Auburn's final year of production, despite plans for further evolutions. Auburn officially closed down in October of 1937.
The 852 Boattail Speedster offered here is a former CCCA National First Prize winner and is reported in good presentable condition having been part of the Tunick Collection for more than 30 years. Mr. Tunick frequently had quoted the Auburn Company as saying, "This car was not made for the husband's wife. It was made for his girlfriend." Not run in an undetermined number of years, a sympathetic restoration awaits.