By the late 1920s, E.L. Cord’s dynamic leadership was becoming apparent at the Auburn Automobile Company. He boldly saved the company’s fortunes by transforming the previously dowdy product line into a range of stylish, desirable 8-cylinder cars packing performance and value. With the finances stabilized, E.L. Cord set about promoting Auburn through motorsport. In the late 1920s, record-breaking was a highly effective way for manufacturers to get into the headlines and prove their mettle against the competition. Auburn tossed their hat in the ring after Wade Morton set a 1,000 mile Stock Car record in his personal 8-88. Previous record holders Stutz were none too pleased and set out to reclaim the top spot, which they did – but only just. The margin of victory was only .007 miles per hour! Though the record was no longer theirs, the closeness of the race was not lost on Auburn, and they drove home the fact the 8-88 cost a fraction of the prestigious and exotic Stutz, yet its performance was essentially equal.
Emboldened by success, Auburn Automobile Company developed a new model to challenge Stutz’s sporting image in the showrooms and on the race track. Engineers applied lessons learned from the record runs and produced a 115-horsepower version Lycoming straight-eight engine. They needed a suitably sporty body to fit the new chassis, yet it also needed to be functional in competition. Designers wanted to negate any advantage from drafting behind a boxy sedan, and they looked to the dramatic one-off Duesenberg Model X Speedster penned by John Tjaarda. The theory was that its tapered rear body cut a smaller hole in the air, lessening the advantage of a trailing car. Body production was handled by E.L. Cord’s latest acquisition, McFarlan Automobile Company. The stunning new Auburn Speedster looked fast standing still, with its steeply raked windscreen cleverly echoed by the hood louvers, cockpit vents, door shut lines, and even the tip of the tapered tail. Through all of its iterations, the Boattail Speedster has become synonymous with the Auburn marque, and they are among the classic era’s most iconic and collectible sporting cars.
With great pleasure, we offer this gorgeous, exquisitely restored 1928 Auburn 8-115 Speedster. This Auburn is a documented original McFarlan-built boattail Speedster, certified by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club, and with a well-documented history dating back to the 1950s. It is presented in impeccable condition, fresh from restoration, and suitable for prestigious concours events worldwide.
The story of this Auburn picks up in 1952 when Mr. Tom Dunham discovered it on a used car lot in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photos from around the time he brought it home show the car was remarkably intact and essentially standard, except for modified headlights and bumpers required by New Jersey, where it had been previously titled. Mr. Dunham contacted the previous owner and learned he replaced the engine with an identical unit years before, but the car was otherwise untouched.
A letter from Tom Dunham’s son (also Tom) describes how his mother used the car as her daily driver for a few years shortly after they bought it, but the car was taken off the road when it developed gearbox trouble. Soon after, the Dunhams and their Auburn relocated to Wisconsin, and in the late 1950s, restoration work began. The body was carefully removed from the chassis, and all the mechanical components were rebuilt. The younger Dunham recalled a thrill ride around the family property on the bodiless chassis in 1968. The project stalled for several years but resumed in the late 70s, first with the body. The owners enlisted the help of area experts to repair a few spots of structural wood and repaint the body. Unfortunately, work stopped again in 1981, and the elder Mr. Dunham passed in 1983.
The Speedster remained quietly tucked away in the barn for the next 30-plus years until a family friend and fellow collector discovered it late in 2016. An offer was made and, with that, the family’s beloved Auburn found its first new owner in nearly 65 years. The car was very well preserved, making the ensuing restoration relatively straightforward. Midway through the project, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club invited it to their annual meet so judges could use the car as a benchmark for an authentic, unmolested McFarlan Speedster body.
With the restoration completed in 2019, the 8-115 Speedster finally returned to the road for the first time since the mid-1950s. The owner selected a splendid two-tone livery of black and cream – an authentic color scheme originally offered by Auburn. Black wire wheels and black-wall tires further enhance the sporty appeal, and the black leather upholstery and matching canvas weather equipment are expertly finished. The paint, brightwork, and upholstery are executed to a high standard, and every aspect of the restoration is thoroughly researched. The car debuted at the 2019 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Festival, earning its First Primary Award and receiving ACD Certification. The owners returned in 2021 to win their First Senior award. Beyond that event, it has not been shown extensively and is eligible for entry into many exclusive concours.
Like similar sporting cars of the era, Auburn Speedsters were popular with racers and adventure seekers; thus, very few survived their first or second owners with the original coachwork intact. This marvelous example benefits from a fresh restoration and is fully vetted by marque experts. It is a rare opportunity to add one of the Classic Era’s most iconic and influential sporting cars to your stable.
Offers welcome and trades considered