Found: Last Auburn Twelve Speedster Salon

Editor’s note: This special Auburn Twelve Speedster Salon is not actually a “found” car, but rather a long-parked car that has recently become available. Its previous owner, Jack Ulmer, recently passed away and never saw his dream to restore the Auburn Twelve Speedster Salon completed. His family has made the car available in hopes another hobbyist will finish the car’s restoration.

T he late Jack Ulmer was an early collector of Auburn Speedsters, having had several during his life. He owned a service station in a major city during the 1950s, so he had unusual access to, and knowledge of, many interesting cars in the good old days when today’s Full Classics were simply used cars.

    Although he had numerous Speedsters over the years, he saved one as “a keeper.” The car, he later discovered, is most likely the last 12-cylinder Speedster built. Additionally, the chassis has many unique features ‘ parts that are chrome plated instead of being painted, for example ‘ and it is painted a unique two-toned color scheme. Being an attendee of early Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Annual Reunions in Auburn, Ulmer had the opportunity to meet several Auburn factory employees who remembered the special features of the chassis, which was used as a display chassis for the 1933 and possibly 1934 Auto Salons.

    The car is a 1934 Auburn 1250 Salon Speedster ‘ the rarest of the rare when it comes to Auburn Speedsters. Salons had numerous trim-level upgrades, including chrome trim on the fenders and hood louvers.

    Mr. Ulmer started work on the restoration of the car in the ’50s, disassembling it completely to do a proper ground-up restoration. Over the years, he made progress on the restoration of the chassis, acquired an American LaFrance V-12 engine to replace the original engine (which needed major work) and worked tirelessly to acquire correct small parts and bits which were needed. Lycoming supplied American LaFrance V-12 engines well into the ’60s; the engines used the same basic block as those found in Classic-era Auburn V-12 cars, with the main difference being dual ignition. Many V-12 Auburns were refitted with American LaFrance V12’s in the ’60s and ’70s, as this was more expedient and often more cost effective than rebuilding the original powerplant. Luckily, Mr. Ulmer saved the original engine and all its parts, which still remain with the car.

    Over the years, most of the chrome was replated, and the gauges, instruments and dash were restored professionally, as were the front fenders. The body of the car is in remarkable condition with extremely solid wood members and no rust whatsoever. The car is a rare peek back into time, as it is the only known unrestored V-12 Salon Speedster.

    Mr. Ulmer and his son Rick attended the ACD Club meet annually and were well known to the cognoscenti at Auburn. Paul Bryant, ACD Club certification chief, was so intrigued by the car that he traveled to Ulmer’s garage to certify the car in 2000. Normally, one must bring a car to the ACD Club Annual Reunion to get it certified. Only a handful of the 12-cylinder Speedsters in existence are ACD Club Category 1 certified cars, making this one of the most important Auburns to come to light in recent years.

    Mr. Ulmer’s love for cars was instilled in Rick, who has a Maserati Merak, a Sunbeam Alpine roadster and a ’62 Imperial. Unfortunately, Mr. Ulmer passed away two years ago before realizing his 50-year quest of seeing the Auburn restored to its former glory. Mrs. Ulmer passed away last year, and Rick and his siblings made the difficult decision to sell the car in order to satisfy her estate, and to ensure the car gets restored properly to the level it deserves. SignificantCars.com is handling the sale of the car.

    Shawn Miller of SignificantCars, himself an avid ACD collector, believes this is one of the most important Auburns in existence and certainly the most important unrestored Auburn known. States Mr. Miller, “The 12-cylinder Salon Speedster is the pinnacle of Auburn design and engineering. This is the ‘Holy Grail’ for an Auburn collector, a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a car with this provenance, not to mention it oozes sexuality and will be darn fast and fun to drive!”

    For additional information about this car, contact Shawn Miller at 317-636-9900.

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