Historic Car Brands


The Auburn Motor Company was formed by brothers, Frank and Morris Eckhart, in 1900, as an offshoot of their father’s Eckhart Carriage Company. The first Auburn was a chain-drive, single-cylinder, 10hp two-seater, with two speed planetary transmission that was launched at the Chicago Automobile Show in 1903, followed by a four-seater the following year.

1910 Auburn – Doug W

The next model was a 1905 two-cylinder, followed by a four-cylinder, 25hp model in 1911. A year later came a six-cylinder, Rutenberger-powered car, with electric headlights and tail lights. Subsequent Auburns used Rutenberger, Teetor and Continental engines.  

A takeover by Chicago businessmen, headed by Ralph Austin Bard  in 1919 saw the launch of the Continental-powered Beauty Six, but didn’t achieve much market penetration.

1921 Auburn

In 1924 Errett Lobban Cord was approached to help out at Auburn, but he countered with a leveraged buyout proposal that was accepted. Cord sold off the old stock and then began the glory days at Auburn.

1931 Auburn

In 1925 the signature Eight-in-Line 4.3-litre and, later, 4.5-litre 8-88 engines were launched, under striking bodywork designs from the drawing boards of the Limousine Body Company that later became part of the growing Cord empire, along with Duesenberg and Lycoming.

In 1927 Auburn made its name in stock car racing and works driver Wade Morton won at Salem, scored a third at pikes Peak and exceeded 108mph at Daytona Beach.

Off the back of this racing success the first of the famous boat-tailed Speedsters appeared in 1928, styled by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. 

The 1929 Auburn Cabin Speedster was a sensation. It featured a rear-set, aerodynamic lightweight aluminium body, over wood framing, with two aircraft-style wicker seats. It had close-timing cycle mudguards and a streamlining under-chassis belly pan. It was guaranteed to be able to exceed 100mph. At a price of $2195 it was a relative bargain, but there was cloud over Wall Street…

Auburn was on a roll and sold more than 22,000 cars in 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression. Although sales dipped in 1930, they rose again in 1931, thanks to the introduction of the 8-98. The 6.4-litre Lycoming V12 was also fitted to some 1932/33 models.

Auburn 654 1936 – lebubu93

Somehow Auburn attracted sufficient buyers during the Depression years to keep afloat and its 1930s designs were magnificent. Designers, including Alan Leamy and Gordon Beuhrig styled Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs of that period.

The over-the-top model was the 851 of 1935.  Its sweeping body lines concealed advanced technical features, including a Columbia dual-ratio rear axle with an epicyclic gear train between the axle and the crown wheel. When it was engaged, the final drive ratio became 4.5:1, for maximum acceleration. It was disengaged by moving a steering-wheel mounted lever and dipping the clutch, whereupon the ratio became a high-speed 3:1. 

Auburn Speedster 1935 851A – LSDSL

A three-speed synchromesh gearbox, in combination with the dual-ratio axle gave a six-speed transmission. 

Power came from the familiar Lycoming straight-eight, side-valve engine, but with a Cummins-Schwitzer supercharger as standard. Output was 150hp and claimed top speed was 105mph.

In 1936 came the 852, identical to the earlier model, with the exception of the ‘852’ on its grille. 

The final year of production was 1937 as Auburn ceased car production altogether in 1937.

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