A Look Back At The Auburn Speedster

A Look Back At The Auburn Speedster

At the beginning of the 20th century, only a few car manufacturers stood out as automotive pioneers that brought true innovation to the industry. The Auburn Automobile Corporation, a widely celebrated name for luxury rides, was one of them. From 1900 until 1937, this American carmaker was known for its beautifully designed and sporty cars. Today, its vehicles undoubtedly stand at the top of the classic car list.

Auburn’s popularity only rose with the years. What started as a horseless-carriage production became a company dedicated to designing expensive cars. When the salesman E. L. Cord took over the business at the edge of bankruptcy in 1924, the odds changed for the Auburn Automobile Corporation. Not long after, the sales went up, and the vehicles we today consider classics arrived.

The car that pretty much gained Auburn the reputation it enjoys today is the Speedster, an extravagant ride that saw almost 12 years of production. The chances are that you’re already familiar with the Auburn Speedster, as it holds a special place in the hearts of most classic car lovers. Nevertheless, you may find an interesting (and so far unknown) detail or two in our review of the amazing classic luxury car.

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How The Auburn Speedster Came To Be: The Early Beginnings

The 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster on a private lawn.
Via: Wikimedia Commons

As we mentioned, the Auburn Automobile Company flourished when Cord took over as a capable and prominent salesperson. Previously, Auburn was actually the Eckhart Carriage Company that was sold to a group of Chicago investors in 1919. The new owners tried to revive the business, but they were unsuccessful. All attempts failed until Cord made an effort to take over the company in 1924.

Cord was a dynamic force in the company that saved the sinking business a fortune. One year after the big takeover, the Auburn Eight was introduced, logically named after the eight-cylinder engine. Soon enough, this model replaced a more powerful one that gained the 8-88 nameplate because of the 88 bhp engine. These will be the first car to draw the eye of the public to Auburn.

In 1928, the 8-115 replaced the 8-88, and it’s easy to guess the logic behind this one. However, something new happened not long after — the Speedster (an open two-seater) appeared based on the 8-115, and it was like anything else at the time. With a long hood, big windshield, and a rounded tail, the 1928 Speedster immediately appealed to the customers. RELATED: 10 Underappreciated Classic Cars You Need To Buy Right Now

The Auburn Speedster: The Story Of Grand But Short-Lived Success

The 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster in an exhibition.
Via: Flickr

In 1929 the production continued. The facelift came the following year, when the Auburn Speedster got an upgrade and a new name — the Speedster 125. This was probably due to the 125 bhp version of the eight-cylinder engine that could now reach a top speed of 100 mph. The new Speedster was marketed as a racing car with the comfort of a no-racing one.

Sadly, the Great Depression came around the corner to spoil the plans of the Auburn Automobile Company. The sales began to drop in 1929 and 1930. The V12 engine was introduced in a Speedster, but it achieved low success and was quickly discontinued.

The 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster on a parking lot.
Via: Wikimedia Commons

The final big triumph of the Auburn Automobile Company was reflected in the Speedster 851 launched in 1924. This model would be the last car made by this brand before the defunct caused by the Great Depression. It’s also today’s most noted version of the Auburn Speedster.

The 851 packed a powerful and reliable eight-cylinder engine. It sported smooth lines, a new hood, a massive grille, and advanced (at a time) tech features. The new Auburn Speedster could develop 150 hp, reach a top speed of 100 mph, and offer unmatched styling. It was a real (progressive) gem back in the day.

This model’s success was enough for the company to build 852 in 1936, but sadly, the new car couldn’t save the company from its demise. In 1937, the production ceased, and the Auburn Automobile Company closed its doors.

How Does The Auburn Speedster Rank In The Modern World?

The 1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster showcased for sale.
Via: Hemmings

As we mentioned, the Auburn Speedster was a progressive ride for its time, with the impressive engine specs and modern styling. That made it more than desirable among the customers. Although the Great Depression influenced the sales and the business had to halt production, the public’s interest ceased only for a while.

In modern times, the Auburn Speedster is a widely wanted classic. It’s so highly praised, in fact, that some versions cost a fortune. We’ve seen Auburn Speedster models on auction that well tip over half a million dollars. Are we surprised? Hardly so, considering the car’s history, rank, and design. But still, it’s unfortunate that not many people can afford the Auburn Speedster.

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