Lot details Registration No: UN-REG Chassis No: 32924E
Although the Auburn 851 range was launched in September 1934, the Boat-Tail Speedster variant was not made public until the January 1935 New York Motor Show. One of the decade's most flamboyant designs, its fabulous lines were the work of former Duesenberg stylist, Gordon Miller Buehrig. Built on a conventional leaf-sprung ladder frame chassis, it was powered by a 279ci (4.6 litre) Lycoming straight-eight mated to a three-speed manual gearbox with Columbia dual-ratio back axle. Reworked by no less than Augie Duesenberg, the engine developed 115hp in standard form. However, the addition of a Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger boosted this figure to 150hp. Engineered by Kurt Beier, the 'blower' span at six times engine speed. By the time it reached 24,000rpm it blade tips had gone supersonic and a suitably equipped Speedster was travelling at over 100mph. Each blown 851 carried a plaque stating that "this Auburn Automobile has been driven 100.1 miles per hour before shipment" and signed by Ab Jenkins of Mormon Meteor racing fame. The first American stock car to average over the 'ton' for a twelve hour period, the 851SC Speedster also took top honours at the Brussels Exposition concours d'elegance. A loss leader at a time when Auburn could ill afford one, it is estimated that the Indiana based manufacturer lost at least $300 on each car sold (a sizable proportion of its $2,245 price tag). Estimates as to the total number of 851SC Speedsters built range from 146 to 500. An art-deco masterpiece, it proved a fitting swansong (along with its 852SC sibling) for one of America's oldest manufacturers.
Finished in pale yellow with mid-brown leather upholstery, this particular example has been part of the collection since 1995. Certified by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club as an 'A-289 Original Category 1 (major components & body of original mfg.)' car under certificate number 515812895-2, it is reputed to have been laid-up in a Nebraskan barn for many years before being extensively restored to "showcar" standards in the early 1990s. Indeed, a discreet plaque on its flank testifies to it being a 'CCCA 1st Prize Winner National Competition No.1790'. Sporting torpedo 'Stabilite' headlamps and Auburn-etched conical rear lamps, car number 32924E has the familiar black and silver dashboard complete with 5,000rpm rev counter and bakelite gearknob. Though, a footwell heater is a welcome addition. Under the bonnet a sticker proclaims that the engine last had its oil changed at 58,987 miles (the odometer currently shows 59,075). From the 'supercharged' script above its four externally routed chromed exhaust pipes to its sharply pointed tail via its raked windscreen and flying lady motifs (sat behind each door), this Speedster (body no. U47-188) is an absolute delight.