Lot 20 1936 Auburn 852 SC Boattail Speedster OFFERED WITHOUT RESERVE
Selling on Wednesday
From The Chuck Morgan Estate Collection
CHASSIS NO: GH5425
• 1 of fewer than 10 1936 ACD Certified Speedsters • CCCA Senior and 100 Point Award winner • Excellent documented restoration • Supercharged “SC” model with Columbia rear axle • Fully recognized by the CCCA as a Full Classic® • Part of the Morgan Collection since 2005
280 cid inline eight-cylinder engine with Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger rated at 150 HP, three-speed manual transmission, dual ratio differential, front and rear leaf spring suspension, four-wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 127”
Errett Loban Cord’s reinvention of the Auburn brand is nothing short of legend. Taking over the unprofitable company from a group of investors in 1924, Cord simply repainted the unsold cars in brighter colors and business began booming. When the Auburn business stabilized, Cord set about to cement his legacy with some of the most expensive and prestigious cars the world would ever know. Indeed, the Cord L-29 and the mighty Duesenberg Model J are both hallmarks in automotive design, but when Cord introduced the sleek Auburn 851 Speedster in 1935, the world stood up and took notice. Here was a car that was so sleek, so streamlined, and so gorgeous that it simply couldn’t be ignored. The genesis of the speedster actually started when Cord started losing interest in his company and began looking for more challenges. He then handed the leadership of Auburn to Duesenberg president Harold T. Ames, who also brought the great Gordon Buehrig along with him. The goal was to update Auburn’s existing models and what was needed was a car that would lure customers into the showrooms and hopefully improve sales. Buehrig and his design crew made a few styling updates while also maintaining some of the original work of Alan Leamy’s 1934 designs. What emerged was the incredible Auburn 851 Speedster that was designated at the 851 SC for 1935. If the long steeply angled grille with its twin flanked bullet-styled headlamps and sharply “vee’d” front bumper wasn’t enough, the long and low overall look terminated to a beautiful boattail design that although impractical, made the car look like a work-of-art. The boattail styling, streamlined pontoon-style fenders, sharply angled V-windshield, and a folding lid that housed the convertible top were like nothing else on the road. Its bold appearance was further set off by flexible exhaust pipes that exited through the driver’s side and down under the car. The effect had been used successfully on the supercharged Duesenberg Model J and it worked wonders on the Speedster. Most important was that the 851 SC not only looked fast, but it actually was. Power came from Auburn’s premier engine supplier Lycoming, who had fortunately retained Augie Duesenberg to work with Pearl Watson in adapting the Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger to the 115-horsepower straight-eight. The result was an increase to 150-horsepower and a Columbia dual-ratio two-speed rear axle provided six forward speeds. With power to spare in a car that was built for speed, Auburn set out to show the world what their new speedster could do. Famed racecar driver Ab Jenkins set a record, as he became the first American to average a speed of over 100 mph for 12 hours in a factory stock 851 SC Speedster. Thereafter, each Speedster sold carried a dash plaque engraved with Ab Jenkins’ signature. The new Auburn Speedster sold for $2,245 when a new Ford could be had for just $560 but, despite its lofty price tag, Auburn lost money on each one sold. For 1936, the Speedster became the 852 SC and very few were built. By 1937, Cord’s empire had ceased production and one of the greatest chapters in automotive history had come to an end.
Offered here is a beautiful example of this iconic car with chassis number 34616E which has been part of the Indiana-based Chuck Morgan Collection since 2005. Prior to acquistion it spent time in the New York collection of Mr. L. Pokoik and further Mr. Charles Babcock, a fellow Indianapolis, Indiana native, who owned the car for over 15 years. Friends of Chuck know that he was meticulous and particular and this Speedster would be the beneficiary of these positive traits. One of the initial draws to this car was the beautiful shade of red, darker than is often seen, which enhances the lines and overall presentation of the car. It was a good car but one that Mr. Morgan wanted to make better, so he began a multi-year project of improvements resulting in nearly $200,000 spent. He enlisted a myriad of assistance in the process from excellent vendors including consulting from reknowned shop LaVine Restorations. While they did not restore the entire car, their input was instrumental in the final result which included a CCCA Senior Award and 100 point score in July of 2014. A copy of the judging sheet is included with the sale. Mr. Morgan also embarked on the journey of inspection from the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club and resulting ACD Cerfification number A-523. According to the ACD Club paperwork, 34616E still wears its factory installed body and was originally fitted with the Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger along with the side pipes that designate it as a supercharged car. Records also indicate that it was fitted with the optional Crosley radio and a clock.
Everything about the appearance on the 852 speaks to an era where classic design was the hallmark of a very special car. The front bumper carries a sharp dip at the center that allows the grille to make a tall and imposing appearance while a long and tall hood carries back to an ultra-low raked spilt windshield. Doors are rear hinged and the die cast letters on the sides of the hood spell out “supercharged” leaving no doubt that this is a fast car. Although simplistic in its design, the boattail rear carries with it a look that was pure artistry in motion. This Speedster rides on Auburn wire rims with wide whitewall tires for a look that’s pure excellence. Most impressive is that the top completely disappears when folded for a look that’s smooth and aerodynamic. This Speedster also still retains its factory dash plaque with the engraved Ab Jenkins’ signature attesting to the fact that this car has been driven to over 100 mph at the factory.
It is estimated and accepted that fewer than 100 supercharged Auburn 851 and 852 Speedsters remain. Fewer than 10 from 1936 are ACD Certified. This example, with its superb restoration, exquisite care and solidified provenance, is a car that captures the very essence of collectibility. Mr. Morgan was the ideal caretaker of this prestigious Auburn and it now provides an exceptional opportunity to own one of the truly great American classic car designs, regardless of era. Rightly, it enjoys CCCA Full Classic® status, making it eligible for a veritable multitude of touring and showing events and, of course, it will be welcomed to any Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club event the new owner should ever choose to enjoy.