Much of Auburn’s history is dominated by the brief but glamorous period that followed in the wake of E.L. Cord’s takeover. The era that brought us the Auburn Twelve and the Supercharged 852 Speedster was undoubtedly a high point for the company, but it would be an injustice to the storied marque to allow the brief Cord era to overshadow all the cars that preceded it. Near the turn of the twentieth century, a former wheelwright named Charles Eckhart left his position at the Studebaker Corporation to branch out on his own in the carriage business. In 1874 he founded the eponymous Eckhart Carriage Company. In 1894, Charles retired and left the business to his two sons, who, in turn, built the company’s first experimental automobile in 1900. The name of the company changed to the Auburn Automobile Company after the firm’s home base in Indiana, and production began in earnest in 1903, with a single-cylinder, chain drive runabout.
The company built about 120 cars in 1903 and production rose gradually but steadily through the years. By 1905 they had added a two-cylinder touring car to the line. The engine was mounted under the body in the center of the frame, with the opposing cylinders facing fore/aft. Despite the layout, the cars looked rather conventional, with a pronounced hood (housing the fuel tank) and a steering wheel in place of a tiller. The robust and reliable twin-cylinder model served Auburn well through the next several years, with a four-cylinder engine joined the line beginning in 1909. This period was a formative one for the Auburn Automobile Company, and they established their reputation for building high-quality motorcars at a reasonable price point – and company literature touted the Auburn as “The most for your money.”
The 1909 model year saw the two-cylinder Models G, H, and K carry over mostly unchanged. Auburn’s model naming scheme was a bit of “alphabet soup” at this time, and the three models were all quite similar, sharing the same layout and 216.5-cubic inch, 24-horsepower horizontal twin. The primary difference was in the wheelbase length, and some offered the option of a runabout body. These high-quality cars competed with the likes of Buick, Overland, and EMF in the mid-price market, and sales continued to grow steadily with each year. By 1910, it was clear that the four-cylinder engine was the way forward, so the venerable horizontal twin was discontinued at the end of 1909.
Early brass-era Auburns such as this 1909 Model G Touring are quite rare and seldom appear on the open market. Auburn produced just 1,018 cars in 1909, and survivors are incredibly rare. This delightful example is believed to have had only three long-term owners from new and came into the stewardship of the most recent owner back in 1982. Since then, it spent time on display at the famous Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, and is a prime example of an early twin-cylinder model, with a characterful older restoration. The maroon and black paint shows its age through some moderate cracking on both the metal hood and wood body, but it maintains an attractive appeal of a well-preserved, driver-focused car. Body-color wood-spoke wheels feature matching striping and brass detailing, fitted with whitewall pneumatic tires. The brass headlamps, carriage lamps, acetylene tank, and other body fittings all present in very good order, benefitting from recent cleaning and polishing.
The button-tufted, riveted leather upholstery looks to be mostly original to the car, showing heavy cracking in places yet is incredibly well-preserved, considering it is more than 110 years old! Brass fittings, hardware, and brackets are all in good order, as are the green linoleum-lined floors and black canvas folding roof. Driver and front passenger enjoy individual bucket seats, while the rear compartment offers spacious accommodations for up to three passengers, in classic touring car fashion. The control layout is not unlike that of a Ford Model T, with foot pedals controlling the two-speed planetary gearbox, and hand controls for spark and throttle on the steering wheel.
This Auburn has undergone some recent mechanical work to return it to running condition following a period of disuse. Some additional sorting will likely be needed to bring the car up to a full road-ready state, however, the mechanical underpinnings are sound, and the little Auburn runs quite well. With some additional dialing-in, this rare and desirable Auburn would be a marvelous entrant in brass-era events such as the Glidden Tour or other AACA, VMCCA, or Horseless Carriage Club tours. For someone new to brass-era motoring, this Model G is an excellent choice as it is lightweight, powerful for its size, and overflowing with character.
Offers welcome and trades considered