E.L. Cord’s takeover of Auburn in 1924 was exactly what the Indiana-based manufacturer needed to turn around its faltering fortunes. After years of building good quality but rather staid cars, E.L. Cord transformed them into one of the most exciting American automobile companies of the time. Cord focused on style and value, literally using bright color schemes to shift unsold inventory before redesigning the entire range. The new models under his guise used engines supplied by Lycoming (who also happened to be part of Cord’s ever-growing business empire), and Auburn established itself as a leader in the entry-level luxury market, with some of the most affordable and stylish 8-cylinder cars in the segment.
Despite the onset of the Great Depression and slow sales in the previous few years, Auburn was enjoying quite a renaissance in 1931 thanks to the 8-98 (8 cylinders, 98 horsepower). The powerful new Lycoming straight-eight engine was paired with a rigid X-braced chassis of 127 inches in wheelbase. The revised chassis featured Lovejoy hydraulic shock absorbers, and a Bijur lubrication system that made maintenance a breeze. A line of fabulous new bodies from Cord-owned coachbuilders brought sophisticated Hollywood style to the streets, all at a price that made them some of the most affordable 8-cylinder cars of the day. The most famous and overtly sporting of the new design Auburns was the Boat Tail Speedster, thought the 8-98 was also available as a fully closed sedan and a strikingly handsome and versatile Convertible Phaeton. Regardless of the body style, Auburn offered a high quality and stylish automobile at an incredibly attractive price.
This 1931 Auburn 8-98 wears desirable and fetching Convertible Phaeton coachwork. The restoration, while older, was performed by marque expert Randy Ema and it remains in fine condition throughout thanks to recent refreshing. It is presented in a striking two-tone red and burgundy color scheme, with a dark red body is subtly highlighted by deep burgundy fenders and feature lines, while bright red striping ties the scheme together. The bright and sporty color scheme is further enhanced by beautiful chrome wire wheels fitted with double-whitewall tires. This CCCA Senior Award-winning example has been very well restored and maintained by a series of notable enthusiasts, including Tom Kemp, Chris Logan, James Couzens and ACD Club stalwarts Gary and Cheryl Howe who enjoyed the car in a great many club activities. The first CCCA award came in Michigan in 1992, and as a testament to the quality of care it has received, it was awarded the same 98.5 point score twelve years later in 2004. This Auburn is very well detailed, presenting in crisp and attractive condition and accessorized with dual sidemount spare wheels, chrome headlamps, dual chrome horns, a single Pilot Ray spot light, body-color radiator louvers, and a winged goddess mascot. Panel fit is very good, paint is gorgeous, and the overall quality is that of a car that was beautifully restored and enjoyed with care and respect.
Dark tan leather upholstery is in similarly fine condition, having taken on a light patina, remaining supple and free of any damage. Dark brown carpets are also in fine condition, showing only minimal wear. Chrome trim tops the dash, which is again in very nice condition with original instrumentation in a textured alloy fascia. The interior color is very well judged against the paint, and well-presented thanks to the high quality restoration. A fresh tan top in Haartz canvas has been recently fitted, and is in excellent condition.
Mechanically, it is in good order with a well-presented Lycoming straight-eight that is nicely detailed and strong running. These engines are very stout, delivering healthy doses of torque to allow for easy cruising. Paint finishes are very good, with no apparent peeling or chipping on the block or head. Hose clamps and hardware are of the correct type and the engine remains very clean and tidy, showing careful use and care over the years. With good history from noted ACD enthusiasts and a restoration by one of the most respected names in the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg field, this stylish and sound 8-98 Convertible Phaeton is certain to please its next caretaker. Long on style and very desirable among collectors, this fine example is prime for CCCA CARavan tours, AACA events and or for simple enjoyment on the road.
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