Shortly after E.L. Cord’s takeover of Auburn in 1924, the Indiana-based manufacturer was enjoying a remarkable renaissance. After years of building good quality but rather staid cars, Cord transformed Auburn into one of the most exciting American automobile companies of the time. Using engines supplied by Lycoming (part of Cord’s ever-growing business empire), Auburn established itself as a leader in the entry-level luxury market, with some of the most affordable and stylish 8-cylinder cars available to buyers.
Despite the onset of the Great Depression, Auburn still saw brisk sales in 1931 thanks in large part to the success of the 8-98 (8 cylinders, 98 horsepower). While traditional sedans and touring cars made up the bulk of the sales figures, it was a new Speedster would steal the headlines. Cord’s chief designer Alan Leamy, who had previously penned the Cord L-29 and the iconic Duesenberg J front-end, drew the Speedster with a distinct V-shaped windscreen, sweeping fenders, a disappearing top and uniquely flamboyant boat-tail treatment to the rear bodywork. A sportsman’s dream, the new Auburn stood at a mere 68 inches tall, and thanks to that sleek and lithe bodywork, the Speedster lived up to its name with robust performance and handling. Never intended for volume sales, the Speedster was built as eye-candy for showrooms, used to attract buyers to the more practical models in the range. For the 1932 model year, the 8-98 was updated to become the 8-100, and the 8-100A was added with its “dual range” overdrive rear-axle. The Speedster continued, and would soon became one of the most sought-after motorcars in high society. Despite it being one of the most affordable cars in the class, the stylish and sporty Auburn Speedster was a stepping stone to the rarified world of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg ownership.
Beautifully restored and presented in a striking color combination, this 1932 Auburn 8-100A Speedster has been certified as a Category One car by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club. It has been inspected by experts who determined this car retains its original chassis, engine, rear axle and other major components, and most importantly – its original boat-tail coachwork by Union City Body Company. For 1932, Auburn offered the Speedster body as an option on both the 8-100 and the 12-160. Just 63 cars would be sold with the 8-cylinder engine in 1932 and this example is believed to be one of the first six cars produced. This car is also rather unusual in that it features numerous options and factory accessories such as a radiator stone guard, metal covers for the dual sidemount spare wheels, a pair of steerable Pilot Ray driving lamps, chrome wire wheels, a Tropic Aire heater and a Philco radio.
It is believed that this car was first delivered in California, and was originally finished in black with red body trim. The early history is unknown, however the story picks up in the 1960s when it was owned by Mort. C. Engdahl of Carmichael, California. During Engdahl’s tenure with the Speedster, it was restored and the color was changed to off-white with red trim. In the 1970s the Auburn was on display in an Oklahoma restaurant. From 1978 to 1984 it belonged to Rick Carroll of Jensen Beach Florida, who then passed it to two fellow Jensen Beach residents – Edward Kirkhart and Joseph Shawfield. A few years later in 1988, the Auburn was acquired by the renowned bronze sculptor, painter and automobile enthusiast Stanley Wanlass of Astoria, Oregon. In 1994, Wanlass sold the car where it joined the collection of his friend, and it has remained in the care of that family since.
While in the hands of the most recent owner, the Auburn was comprehensively restored and finished in the attractive livery of black with silver body trim and subtle lilac pinstripes. The quality of the restoration is first rate and the car has been shown at numerous prestigious events such as the Glenmoore Gathering (where it won a Chairman’s award), The 2015 Elegance at Hershey and the 2015 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. It was also displayed at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. While in restoration, it was inspected and awarded Category One certification by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club. The original, Union City-built body is beautifully restored with high quality finish work and excellent paint. The chrome trim has been fully restored to a high standard. It rides on double white-wall tires, in tribute to the very first Auburn Speedster and it retains original deluxe items such as the Winter-Front grille, sidemount covers and Auburn-branded Pilot Ray driving lamps.
The interior is upholstered in attractive pale gray leather which complements the silver body trim. The seat and door panels appear in excellent condition, showing little use since the restoration was completed. The dash features original instrumentation, and the Philco Radio and heater remain in place as originally equipped.
Under the hood is the venerable L-head Lycoming inline eight, displacing 268.6 cubic inches and capable of over 100 horsepower. The engine is beautifully detailed to a high standard, showing only the slightest bit of mellowing since the restoration was completed. Backing the engine is the original 3-speed manual transmission with free-wheeling which sends power back to the correct original 2-speed rear axle, which gives the Auburn in essence, six forward ratios for power or effortless cruising.
Most recently out of a diverse collection of significant automobiles, this Auburn presents in outstanding condition and is a truly gorgeous example of this rare and iconic pre-war sports car that is suitable for show or touring. This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a genuine, ACD-Certified 8-100A Speedster with outstanding history.