“The boattail is easily the most famous Auburn,” said Bill Warner, founder and Chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “Yet there’s much more to the Auburn legend than just the Speedster. We’ll have a significant collection of rare Auburn classics on our 2018 show field.”
Auburn’s V-12 Speedster designed by styling legend Gordon Buehrig was the glamorous final gasp of a company that had existed from the days when William McKinley sat in the Oval Office. Auburn grew into the automobile business from the Eckhart Carriage Co, founded in Auburn, Indiana in 1874.
As the 1920s rolled on Auburn languished, seldom building more than six cars a day. The company’s owners approached a dynamic young car salesman from Chicago to right Auburn’s corporate ship. The new man had even bigger plans. He wasn’t just looking for a better job; he lusted to make spectacular cars and offered Auburn’s owners what amounted to a leveraged buyout. Errett Lobban Cord walked into the Auburn plant in the summer of 1924 and everything changed.
In the autumn of 1924 E.L Cord took Auburn into new territory with their first eight-cylinder engine, called the “8-In-Line” and “The Greatest Eight”. All eight and 12-cylinder Auburns have since been considered “Classics”. The “boattail” led the way. Cord’s refined instincts were on target as Auburn struck a showroom sweet spot. Sales ballooned from 2607 cars in 1924 to 20,000 by 1929.
Auburn had come under the control of the Depression’s greatest entrepreneur; Errett Lobban Cord’s all-American work ethic was surpassed only by his refined sense of style. He was not interested in massive sales numbers considering Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg — the cars of the new Cord Corporation — boutique offerings.
“There will always be a market for the product that is distinctive . . . that appeals to the man who wants something that isn’t exactly like the products owned by all this neighbors.” – said E.L. Cord, President, Auburn Automobiles. He was good to his word.
Introduced in 1935 Auburn’s 851 Speedster packed a supercharged straight-eight engine and a plaque bearing the signature of legendary Bonneville speed record-setter Ab Jenkins confirming that the car had achieved 100 mph or more.
Auburn’s Speedster was more than just high velocities and a handsome profile. Sam Collier won the touring class (and second overall) of the 1937 Mt. Washington (NH) hillclimb in his Auburn Speedster. The sanctioning club of the twisting Mt. Washington “climb to the clouds”, ARCA (the Automobile Racing Club of America), even chose the prow of a charging Auburn Speedster as the central motif of its Bill Mitchell-designed insignia.
“Auburn is the charter member of a corporation of classics that came from the genius of Errett Lobban Cord,” said Warner.
Tickets for the 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance on March 9-11, 2018 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island are available now. Click Here for Tickets
About The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance
Now in its third decade, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is among the top automotive events in the world. Always held the second full weekend in March, “The Amelia” draws over 300 rare vehicles from collections around the world to The Golf Club of Amelia Island and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island for a celebration of the automobile like no other. Since 1996, the show’s Foundation has donated over $3.2 million to Community Hospice & Palliative Care, Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, The Navy – Marine Corps Relief Society, Shop with Cops, and other deserving charities. In 2013 and 2016 the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance won Octane Magazine’s EFG International Historic Motoring Event of the Year award.The 23rd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for March 9-11, 2018. For more information, visit www.ameliaconcours.org.