When the Auburn Automobile Company folded in the mid-1930s, Mr. Dallas Winslow stepped up to rescue what was left of the once-illustrious firm. He acquired the rights to the company, along with tooling, property, spare parts, and even a handful of original employees, keeping the legendary Auburn name alive to serve its legions of dedicated fans. In 1960, the Auburn Automobile Company got its third lease on life when Winslow passed the torch to fellow marque champion, Mr. Glenn Pray. Pray moved the operation to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he earned a well-deserved reputation as the go-to Guru of all things Auburn/Cord/Duesenberg, and owners flocked to his warehouse in search of parts and knowledge. But Glenn Pray had dreams for the Auburn Automobile Company beyond just being a restorer and parts supplier. He envisioned a full-scale revival of the marque, complete with coachbuilt motorcars that continued the Auburn tradition, blending classic styling with modern American V8 drivetrains and chassis components.
That dream became a reality in 1967 with the introduction of the “Second Generation” Auburn 866. The 866 featured a high-quality fiberglass body created from molds taken from a genuine boattail speedster and detailed with trim directly from Auburn’s stash of original parts. The chassis and drivetrain were sourced from Ford, and the V8 engine capacity varied depending on availability and customer wishes. The 866 was meticulously crafted to a high standard, and the price reflected it. In the late 70s, Pray added a second model to the line, the 874 Phaeton. The 874 utilized the front end of the 866 Speedster but was stretched from the cowl back to accommodate four doors and a dramatically low-slung dual-cowl phaeton body of Pray’s design. Just 18 of these glamorous models were produced, costing upwards of $60,000 –nearly the same as a new Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. Like the second-generation 866 Speedster, the 874 Phaeton is a full-fledged collector car in its own right today, enjoying the recognition of marque enthusiasts, including the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club.
The tenth of eighteen examples produced, our featured 1979 Auburn 874 Phaeton is well preserved in original, unrestored condition. It makes a dramatic statement with its low-slung stance, beautiful dark red livery over tan upholstery, wide-whitewall tires, and polished disc wheel covers. As with all top-line 874s, this example is well-equipped with air conditioning, automatic gearbox, power steering, and a 460 cubic-inch big-block Ford V8. For their substantial cost of entry, buyers got a car tailored to their exact specification and handcrafted to a high standard of quality. That this car has survived more than 40 years so well preserved is as much a testament to Glenn Pray’s build quality as it is the care it has received through the years. Overall, the paintwork is in good condition, displaying a slight patina and a few minor imperfections consistent with its age. The polished and chromed exterior trim is in similarly good condition all around, and the body is nicely accessorized with a single side-mount spare, dual search lamps, fog lights, goddess mascot, and chrome headlights. It is a true dual-cowl phaeton, with steeply-raked windscreens front and rear and a full-folding, disappearing canvas top, which is in good working order.
Front and rear passengers enjoy tan upholstery with matching carpets, all in preserved original condition. Some slight fading is noted, which does little to detract from the otherwise tidy presentation. Switches and controls are in good order, and a later-style aftermarket radio is fitted to the passenger side of the dash. The driver faces a wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel and an array of Stewart-Warner instruments set into an engine-turned alloy panel. Rear passengers get redundant tach and speedometer to keep a watchful eye should the driver get too generous with their right foot.
Pray utilized a variety of Ford engines throughout production of the second-generation Auburns. In this case, the robust 7.5-liter/460 cubic-inch big block. Used across the Ford lineup in Thunderbirds, Lincolns, light trucks, and more, the 460 is a versatile engine known for its bulletproof reliability. The abundant low-end torque makes it the ideal choice for effortless high-speed cruising in a big, comfortable luxury car like this Auburn. Under-hood presentation is orderly and reflective of a well-maintained, unrestored car, showing signs of use and age while remaining respectably tidy.
This rare and fascinating second-generation Auburn combines the striking styling of the 1930s with reliable, easily serviced underpinnings. It is a remarkably well-preserved example, ready for enthusiastic enjoyment in ACD club events or out on the open road.
Offers welcome and trades considered