Rooted in wheelwright Charles Eckhart’s Auburn, Indiana-based carriage business, the Auburn Automobile Company was established by Eckhart’s sons in 1900 with a $2,500 capital stock float and a single-cylinder car they sold for a then-astounding $800. While sales and production were limited at first, a visit to the Chicago Automobile Show in 1903 inspired the brothers to update and expand their automobile offerings, which quickly progressed through an array of two, four, and six-cylinder models by 1912. A 1919 buyout by a Chicago syndicate including chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. was soon followed by the well-received Auburn Beauty-Six, but the post-WW I recession brought steadily falling sales for several years. That is, until 1924 when master salesman Errett Lobban Cord joined Auburn as general manager at a nominal salary with the option to gain control of Auburn if he could save the failing company. In one of the greatest turnarounds in automotive history, Cord took the unsold Auburn cars and had them repainted in contemporary colors and adorned with gleaming nickel-plated trimmings. All sold in short order, and Cord took control of the company.
One of Cord’s earliest moves was his decision for Auburn to move upmarket with a new eight-cylinder engine, one with ample power output, reliability, and scope for future development. Lycoming produced these engines to Auburn specifications, and subsequently, the engine maker would form a key component of E.L. Cord’s fast-growing industrial empire. So powered, the eight-cylinder Auburn models formed the core of Auburn’s model lines and helped Auburn set a litany of officially observed speed records through the company’s remaining lifetime that sadly ended once and for all in 1937 with the ultimate demise of Cord’s once-vast industrial enterprises.
While Auburn only ever reached a single-digit market share at the height of its production, its automobiles remain highly prized by enthusiasts and collectors today; especially when considering the quality of their engineering, materials, and construction quality. An Auburn was undoubtedly far above many other eight-cylinder competitors, featuring extremely sturdy chassis frames, carefully specified suspension components, and advanced features including Bijur central chassis lubrication and by 1928, four-wheel hydraulic brakes – an innovation not adopted by many competing marques until the latter 1930s. In particular, engines were thoroughly tested prior to installation in Auburn chassis using a 40-unit test room and external propeller-drive system simulating an uphill climb at a steady 25 miles per hour and wide-open throttle over 11 to 14 hours, equal to a distance of approximately 300 miles. Careful development yielded steady and useful power increases throughout Auburn eight-cylinder production.
Featuring distinctive “Jazz Age” colors, including red bodywork with cream accents and a smart yellow pinstripe matching the finish of the yellow steel wire-spoke wheels, this 1933 Auburn 8-100A Cabriolet handsomely epitomizes the sporty side of Auburn’s early-1930s eight-cylinder model lines. Continuing to benefit from a high-quality older restoration, the Cabriolet features very good paintwork, a tan canvas convertible top, and an exceedingly attractive interior compartment, trimmed in rich Chocolate brown leather upholstery and brown carpeting. Auburn’s trademark cast metal instrument panel looks great, and the gauges help monitor the Cabriolet’s vital functions. In addition to twin Pilot-Ray auxiliary lamps, accessories include a chrome-plated grille guard, dual side-mounted spare wheel/tire assemblies, cowl lamps, a folding windscreen, a jaunty rumble seat for up to two additional passengers, and a body-color luggage trunk at the rear. Carrying a 98-horsepower factory rating, the eight-cylinder Lycoming L-head engine and engine compartment are restored to show quality with correct finishes, components, and accessories all present. The underside of the Cabriolet is similar in presentation, being fully restored, refinished, and accurate throughout.
Auburn continues to represent Indiana’s proud and prolific tradition of automobile manufacturing as one of the famed Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg marques that have inspired the annual Labor Day weekend festivities at its namesake city since the 1950s. This 1933 Auburn 8-100A Cabriolet is a fitting exemplar of the company’s latter years of existence, with robust 8-cylinder power and renowned driving dynamics. Equipped with the desirable Columbia Dual Ratio’ rear axle, this sporting 1933 Auburn 8-100A Custom Cabriolet is both beautiful to look at and surprisingly competent to drive. It is an ideal, dual-purpose vehicle that will still look smart on virtually any concours lawn, and with CCCA Full Classic® recognition, it will provide a fabulous and enjoyable entry into any classic touring event.
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