After earning his engineering degree from the University of California Berkeley, Indianapolis native Howard Marmon went straight to work at his family business, The Nordyke & Marmon Company. When young Howard took his post, the family firm specialized in flour milling equipment and was already over fifty years old. As the company prospered during the industrial boom of the late 1800s, Howard Marmon rose quickly through the ranks to become Chief Engineer in 1902 – a position he earned not through nepotism but via his exceptional talent. Marmon grew enthralled with the new world of motorized transport and built his first horseless carriage in 1902 at age 23. His natural ability was evident throughout this well-constructed and highly advanced motorcar, which had a 90-degree V-twin, overhead valves, a multi-plate clutch, and 3-speed sliding-gear transmission. Although it was a one-off prototype, Marmon’s first automobile was a sign of the brilliance to come.
Against his brother’s wishes, Howard Marmon began producing automobiles in 1905, experimenting with V6 and V8 engines as his production models earned a reputation for quality and performance. In 1911, the Marmon Wasp – driven by Ray Harroun – became the first car to win the Indianapolis 500-mile race. Marmon road cars quickly rose to rival Cadillac, Packard, and Pierce in the highly competitive American luxury car marketplace, and by 1926, Howard Marmon sold the family flour milling business to Allis-Chalmers to concentrate fully on motorcar development and production.
In 1927, Marmon began developing a new flagship powered by a monumental V16 engine. Unfortunately, the economy had other plans for Marmon, and despite being on the brink of financial collapse, development of the sixteen continued, and Marmon showed the prototype at the 1930 Chicago Auto Show to critical acclaim. Sadly, the costly and extravagant machine arrived as the market for such cars vanished, and the company lacked the resources to compete with Cadillac and Packard.
Marmon made up for its lack of funding with pure engineering brilliance. The Marmon Sixteen is a masterpiece of the classic era, with an overhead valve engine displacing nearly 500 cubic inches and producing 200 horsepower, besting Cadillac’s V16 (designed by an ex-Marmon engineer) by 25 hp. Walter Dorwin Teague Jr. gets the credit for the gracefully curved fenders, bold and stately radiator shell, and a sleek profile notably devoid of fussy detailing. Marmon claimed the Sixteen could out-accelerate a Duesenberg Model J, much to the annoyance of their cross-town rivals. Estimates suggest 370 to 375 Marmon Sixteens were produced from 1930 to 1933, and collectors cherish them as much for their rarity as their superlative performance.
Boasting stylish 5-passenger Victoria Coupe coachwork by LeBaron, exceptional provenance, and a world-class restoration, chassis number 16 143 767 is an outstanding example of the mighty Marmon Sixteen. According to research compiled by D.W. Ridgley’s Marmon Sixteen Roster, this car is one of nine surviving Victoria Coupes, and it was sold new to Ariel Cameron of Norwalk, Connecticut, in 1932. Cameron cherished the Marmon, as evidence suggests it remained with him until 1960, when it is believed the noted car enthusiast and racer Chester Flynn of Timonium, Maryland, purchased it.
The Marmon remained under Chet Flynn’s stewardship for many years, who kept it in good original condition, noting the original engine, no.770, was still in place. In the late 1970s, he began restoring the car and is believed to have fitted engine number 749. The 90-percent restored Sixteen stayed with the Flynn family until after Chester’s death, and his widow Doris Flynn sold the Marmon in 1986 to John Morgan of Andreas, Pennsylvania. In the late 1980s, Morgan hired the highly respected Stone Barn Restorations for a no-expense-spared, world-class restoration. Records show that by 1990, the original engine, no. 770 was reunited with the chassis. The car won several AACA awards, including Junior & Senior Awards, President’s Cup, and a National First Place.
After Mr. Morgan’s passing, his estate sold the Marmon via RM Auctions to Jim Covert. In turn, Mr. Covert commissioned RM Restorations to perform extensive mechanical servicing and detailing. While in Covert’s care, the Marmon was invited to the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, earning a 3rd place in class, with other awards at Meadowbrook and the Glenmoor Gathering. Subsequent owners of chassis 767 were noted Marmon Sixteen enthusiasts and owned multiple examples of the model, ensuring the car remained in top running order. Along the way, it gained a Gear Vendors overdrive unit, and in 2017, the original V16 engine was rebuilt and fitted with new and essential Ridgley/Severns cylinder heads.
As offered here, the LeBaron Victoria Coupe is in beautiful condition, and the outstanding restoration has aged remarkably well. It has mellowed gently with age and enjoyment and is simply a gorgeous car with crisp body lines, excellent paint, and sparking brightwork. The black wall Michelin tires mounted on chrome wire wheels give a purposeful, sporting stance while complementing the clean, uncluttered Walter Dorwin Teague design. The cabin features light grey leather with matching carpets and wool broadcloth headlining, with lovely touches such as roller blinds for the rear windows. As the Victoria Coupe was designed for the owner-driver, it features twin bucket seats in front – unusually sporty for a grand 30s classic.
Best of all, this Marmon performs as well as it looks. The V16 is turbine smooth, with just a hint of throaty exhaust note, delivering its 200+ horsepower with exceptional refinement. The engine stamping of 16770 matches factory production records, and it is authentically detailed, with the immaculate engine bay displaying just light signs of use. Power goes through a 3-speed gearbox, with discreetly integrated overdrive affording effortless high-speed cruising ability.
Few 30s-era automobiles can match the Marmon Sixteen’s refinement, performance, and drivability. This fabulous LeBaron Victoria Coupe is a marvelous example of the marque, of which Bill Harrah once declared, “Classic cars drive like trucks, Marmon Sixteens drive like automobiles.”
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Stock number 7379
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