Monterey 2024

1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster

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$850,000 - $950,000 USD 

United States | Monterey, California

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Serial No.
851 33216 E
Chassis No.
2216
Engine No.
GH 4513
Documents
US Title
  • One of the very finest examples in existence
  • Meticulously presented concours restoration; well-known history
  • Class award-winner at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
  • Two-time Best Auburn at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club National Reunion
  • ACD Club Certified Category 1 (A-561)
  • Among the most desirable Full Classic American sports cars

THE AUBURN SPEEDSTER

In the days when Bugattis crossed France and 4½-Litre Bentleys tore through the British countryside, the American equivalent was the Auburn speedster. Indiana’s Auburn Automobile Company revealed its first version of this dashing body style, inspired by a Duesenberg show car, for the 1928 model year and would offer variations on the theme through to the end of production in 1936.

The 1935–1936 speedsters were designed by the legendary Gordon Buehrig. Audacious by the standards of their time, they featured curvaceous bodywork with a straight hood line shooting back from the radiator to a sharply vee’d windshield, down between pontoon fenders, over gently sloping doors, and descending in a graceful taper to the rear bumper. It was this distinctive rear design, elegantly outlined by chrome and striping, which gave the speedster its everlasting nickname, “the Boattail.”

Underneath, the speedster shared the same exciting mechanicals as other supercharged Auburn models. The glistening chrome side exhaust heralded the presence of a Schwitzer-Cummins blower, which boosted the horsepower of the Auburn straight-eight to 150 from a normally aspirated reading of 115. The 150 horsepower was sent to a Columbia dual-ratio rear axle, standard equipment on the supercharged models, which provided two ratios for each gear, one low and one high. The ratios could be changed as often as desired while at very low speeds or at a stop by moving the switch in the center of the steering wheel. This provided the supercharged Auburn with much greater flexibility, making it a true “driver’s car,” ideal for both purring through crowded cities and roaring down country lanes.

Each speedster bore on its dashboard a plaque inscribed, “This certifies that this AUBURN AUTOMOBILE has been driven 100.8 miles per hour before shipment.” It was signed by David “Ab” Jenkins, the speed-record driver who achieved some of his greatest successes at Bonneville behind the wheel of a late Auburn speedster. Of course, the plaques were merely factory decoration installed on the production line. Then again, no one who has driven these cars since has ever complained about a lack of speed!

SERIAL NUMBER 851 33216 E

According to its Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Certification, the history of this exceptional 851 Supercharged Speedster is known back to 1945, when it was licensed to H.L. Klingensmith of Pennsylvania. It is next known to have been owned by Ellsworth W. “Hap” Huber, an early and very active ACD Club member on the East Coast, then passed to his contemporary William Shearman of New York State.

In 1966 the Auburn was purchased by well-known enthusiast and respected restorer, Walter Seeley, who continued gathering parts and knowledge for its restoration. Mr. Seeley retained the car for 24 years before selling it to Robert Howie of Illinois, who would keep it for another 22. It was then sold to William “Bill” Knight of Brodhead, Wisconsin. Mr. Knight’s personal shop at long last completed the restoration to a meticulous and concours-quality standard, in the iconic Auburn color of Cigarette Cream with maroon leather interior—believed to have been this car’s original livery.

Following restoration the car was Certified Category 1 by the ACD Club, and soon after was purchased in 2015 for the owner’s distinguished collection in the American West. In his ownership it has been an award-winner at the highest levels of competition. It was twice honored with the Roy Faulkner Trophy for Best Auburn at the ACD Club National Reunion, and was 2nd in Class at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, behind only the famous one-off Cadillac V-16 by Hartmann—both extremely impressive achievements.

The car remains in outstanding, show-ready condition throughout, and is a wonderfully authentic and correct original speedster, retaining its original chassis frame and engine. For the discriminating buyer who seeks only the best, this example would be an outstanding choice, as the finest supercharged Auburn speedster presently available.