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Lot 653
1928 Auburn 8-115 Boattail Speedster


Selling on Saturday Evening

CHASSIS NO: 2950153

• 1 of only 226 Boattail Speedsters produced in 1928
• Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Certification, A-588
• 1st Primary Award and 1st Senior Award at ACD National Reunion
• Freshly restored, concours eligible and ready


1928 Auburn 8-115 Boattail Speedster - ACD Certification.pdf

Lycoming straight eight-cylinder engine, 115 HP, three-speed manual transmission, hydraulic brakes

Auburn Boattail Speedsters are among the most coveted sporting cars of the classic era. Though the term classic seems something of a misnomer as their visionary bodies were the height of modernity and a steep departure from the predominantly boxy, grand old tourers of their time. A genuine object of streamlined modern art on wheels, the Auburn Boattail Speedster honestly does not know an American rival of its generation. Very few were produced and far fewer have survived, making them all the more desirable. Offered here is one of those rare survivors, and it’s not just surviving, it’s thriving on a concours level.

The Boattail would not have happened without the vision of E.L. Cord. When the Auburn Automobile Company brought Cord on as General Manager at a meager starting salary, the manufacturer was known for durable cars of quality, but not much else. Cord took the helm with a sense of purpose and a two-pronged attack. He endeavored to establish a reputation for Auburn on the racetrack to pique public interest and quickly purchased Lycoming engines under the ACD umbrella. Meanwhile, he scanned the global horizon for gifted designers in an effort to create a signature look for the then-staid marque. With designer Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky, the master of streamlined automotive style, and the newly in-house McFarlan Automobile Company, the Boattail Speedster was born, and the body style would remain the apex of Auburn automobiles. Strategically situated as the focal point of the showroom and display windows, the Boattail consistently drew crowds, even if customers left with more affordable luxury, as E.L. Cord intended. With an irresistibly curvaceous fender scheme, topped with a striking vee windshield, the angular raked doors and narrow body sharply drew back to a tapered boattail denouement, which made for the most visually dazzling American automobile produced at the time. Daring Jazz Age aesthetics were only half the equation. Cord had set out to prove Auburn’s racing prowess and the 8-115 Boattail Speedster did precisely that. Equipped with Lycoming’s powerful, new 299-cubic-inch straight-eight engine, the Boattail delivered 115 horsepower; it shifted through a three-speed manual transmission and was one of the earliest production automobiles to offer hydraulic brakes. With style and performance, the dream soon became a reality. The 1928 Auburn 8-115 proved its mettle in January 1930 when Wade Morton set the AAA stock car record on the storied sands of Daytona Beach at 104.347 miles per hour.

Remarkably few of these incredible automobiles have survived over their 90+ years of existence, but this freshly restored 1928 Auburn 8-115 Boattail Speedster has endured, thanks to a small line of stewards who have loved it well. This car enjoys a thoroughly documented history since 1952 when long-time owner Tom Dunham unexpectedly discovered it on a used car lot in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mr. Dunham found his rare gem to be quite intact, with the exception of a couple modifications. The headlights and bumpers had been modified due to New Jersey law where the car was previously titled. The prior owner had also replaced the engine with an identical factory unit some years before. Aside from that, the car proved to be all-original. The Dunhams relocated to Wisconsin and began restoration following a bit of gearbox trouble in the late 1950s. They carefully removed the body then the mechanical components were restored. Area experts were hired to repair a few structural issues in the woodwork and the body was repainted. Sadly, Mr. Dunham passed away in 1983 and the car enjoyed a long, 30-year nap in the family barn.

A collector and family friend purchased the car in 2016 and a new chapter began. Well-preserved and beloved by the Dunham family, the ensuing restoration project was surprisingly straightforward. In the midst of restoration, the Boattail Speedster was invited to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club’s annual meet where the judges used it as a benchmark for a genuine, wholly intact McFarlan Boattail Speedster body. The meticulous restoration resumed and was finally completed in 2019. With a 2019 debut at the ACD Club Festival, this Speedster garnered a First Primary Award along with ACD Certification then a First Senior Award in 2021. Aside from ACD-oriented events, the Boattail Speedster has kept a quiet social life since restoration, which leaves it poised and ready for any future concours events. Every aspect of this historic automobile has been researched and refinished with exacting, concours-level standards. Robed in a classic two-tone paint scheme, this speedster flaunts a timeless and correct black and cream color combination over black wire wheels wrapped in blackwall tires. The cabin is dressed in matching black leather upholstery and is covered with a matching black canvas top.

Representing the pinnacle of the Auburn Automobile Company, the Boattail Speedster is among the classic era’s most important cars and is easily one of the most visually striking. One of few survivors of only 226 produced in 1928, this immaculate example is ready to charm at any prestigious concours around the globe. There is no mistaking this Auburn Boattail Speedster for anything but what it is: one of the most beautiful, fast, sporting and exclusive automobiles of the Twenties.

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