Discussions of the great American automobile companies will likely include the mentions of Packard, Duesenberg, and Cadillac, while firms with illustrious histories like Marmon often get left in the shadows, despite their enormous contributions to motoring history. Cars such as the Model 34 pioneered the use of aluminum as a weight saver in engine blocks, bodies and chassis. The Model 34 helped to solidify Marmon’s reputation in sport, where they famously achieved such feats such as setting the “Cannonball” coast-to-coast record. Marmon’s most famous motorsport victory came at the hands of company engineer and retired racer Ray Harroun who, driving the famous Marmon Wasp, won the very first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 1911.
In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Marmon was still best known for building luxurious, high performance motorcars to take on the likes of Packard and Cadillac. Development of their revolutionary V16 engine began as early as 1927, but production was not realized until 1931. Cadillac had beaten Marmon to market with its own V16 engine, and Peerless was working on one of their own, both of which were not-coincidentally designed by ex-Marmon engineers. Regardless, the Marmon Sixteen was a gorgeous engine, an 8.0 liter, 491 cubic inch aluminum unit that produced a full 200 horsepower, handily surpassing the output of Cadillac’s sixteen. The powerful, beautiful Marmon Sixteen was produced for just three years, and with only 390 built, it remains one of the most desirable and storied automobiles of the classic era.
This incredible 1931 Marmon Sixteen Low Boy Roadster is one of the most uniquely jaw-dropping machines we’ve had the pleasure to offer. It is a stunning work of art, built to the highest of standards using genuine Marmon components throughout the build. The story of this remarkable car began as many similar projects do, with a casual conversation between father and son that started with “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” In this case, the subject was the Marmon Sixteen; an automobile they thought would make the ultimate hot rod purely because of that gorgeous and powerful engine. As owners of two Marmon Sixteens, it was unthinkable to cut an existing car, but a family friend, who also happened to be a Marmon expert and owner of a great number of original parts, offered them a project of his own – a rough 1931 Marmon Sixteen rolling chassis, less body. No real history was known on the car, and with 90% of the body missing, it was the perfect basis for them to embark on their project.
Despite it being a derelict chassis with just the engine, radiator, cowl and doors, the Marmon rather surprisingly was fired up and driven onto a trailer. From there it began its remarkable transformation in the hands of this father and son team, with help from Hot Rod Garage of Sand Springs, OK. Engine, driveline and suspension components were all rebuilt and restored, with careful attention paid to each nut and bolt to ensure world-class, concours level finishes. Special care was given to preserve as many original Marmon components as possible, with a number of new parts purchased from marque experts. As the chassis was assembled, components were carefully enhanced with a traditional hot rodder’s approach. As a result, the engine, chassis, gearbox, brakes and rear axle are all original Marmon parts, restored to perfection and beautifully presented.
Using the lower section of a genuine Marmon coupe as a template, a new steel body was fabricated from scratch to sit atop the chassis. The beautiful body features laser-precise panel fit, while original Marmon hardware was used in every possible area. Root Beer brown paintwork is stunning, again finished to concours standard by Hot Rod Garage. Stunning details include the leather and stainless spring straps that hold the hood in place, show-quality plating on the grille slats, and the air cleaners for the triple carbs subtly breaching the surface of the hood. Original door handles were utilized, while the rumble seat has been shaved, and is opened with an electric solenoid. The car sits low and long on its 145-inch chassis, riding on one piece polished Billet wheels, made especially for the car by EVOD in Los Angeles using the original Marmon artillery wheels as a template, and wider in the rear for that quintessential Hot Rod stance.
The magnificent, 491 cubic-inch V16 engine is no doubt the star of the show. It is exquisitely detailed, with stunning, custom fabricated exhaust headers, polished valve covers, and a trio of Stromberg DDR2 carburetors atop a custom manifold. The masterpiece is shown to the world via the simple hood, sans side panels for all to see the stunning craftsmanship. All of the work performed is simply beautiful, and yet the car remains completely functional as well thanks to the expertly restored original drivetrain and chassis. The cockpit features lovely beige leather trim with simple pleating on the seats and door cards that reflect the uncluttered elegance of the exterior. Incredibly, the dash features original Marmon instruments in an engine turned fascia panel. The owners even went so far as to retain the Marmon steering wheel and shifter. Even the door latches and hinges are original, NOS Marmon pieces. This was clearly a labor of love that is both fresh and creative, yet pays respectful tribute to the original car.
Following its completion, the Marmon Low Boy has only participated in one major show, the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show. All aspects of the build from start to finish are documented and presented in a bespoke book. Since the Roadster Show, it has been shown only casually at local events and used sparingly, kept in a climate controlled private museum. It remains in stunning condition, still appearing fresh and ready for show and enjoyment. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to acquire a breathtaking and truly unique piece of rolling art work that seamlessly melds the American Classic Era with the great American tradition of Hot Rodding.