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Later, the founder of the Auburn automobile, Cord, had purchased the Lycoming and Ansted engine companies, several mid-western industrial corporations, and Checker Cab, as well as holding shipbuilding and aviation interests. Perhaps in order to avoid a scandal over the management of his enterprises, Cord went to England in 1934 where he dropped out of sight. The fortunes of his company were eventually handed over to Harold T. Ames, president of Duesenberg.

Auburn-851-Boattail-Speedster-1932

1936-Auburn-852-SC-Boattail-Speedster-4

Hmmm. This seems like it could have been some fun, huh?

Not factory, but nevertheless, cool.

1936-Auburn-852-SC-Boattail-Speedster (Just as nice?)

1936-Auburn-852-SC-Boattail-Speedster

The model lineup for 1933-34 comprised Eights and Twelves, as in 1932, but also saw a revival of the Six, designated the 652. Its Lycoming engine displaced 210 was priced as low as $695, and was offered in Standard or Custom trim on a 119-inch wheelbase. It didn't sell. A controversial 1934 facelift, which introduced radical streamlining features including a shovel-nose grille, is often tagged with the blame, but 1934 was not a good sales year for any make.

1935 Auburn Speedster Boattail

When Harold T. Ames arrived from Duesenberg, he brought with him Gordon Miller Buehrig and August Duesenberg. Buehrig was given a modest $50,000 budget and told to do what he could to upgrade Auburn styling for 1935. Duesenberg was handed the 1935 eight-cylinder engine assignment, in conjunction with Schwitzer-Cummins and Lycoming. The result was a pretty line of '35 models including the legendary 851 Speedster-Auburn's final glory; Buehrig didn't have enough money to fully redesign the '35s, so he worked with leftover '34 Twelves. To create the '35 Speedster he restyled the body of the Twelve Speedster from the cowl forward with a new
radiator, a sleek hood, beautifully curved pontoon fenders, and exterior exhausts. Duesenberg, meanwhile, created a new engine. To save on tooling costs, this unit was basically an extension of the 1934 six with the same bore and stroke, but two more cylinders, of course. The end product displaced 279.2 cubic inches and developed 115 bhp or 150 bhp with a Schwitzer-Cummins supercharger. Speedster models came only with the supercharger; it would hit 100 mph right off the showroom floor, and were among the most breathtakingly beautiful automobiles of all time. Yet, their base price was just $2245. Again, Auburn offered a tremendous bargain for the money.

1936 Auburn Boattail 2

1936 Auburn Boattail

The 1936 line was a repeat of 1935, the Sixes receiving the '654' designation and the Eights becoming the '852'. Despite what could only be termed a brilliant line of cars-cabriolets, broughams, phaetons, and sedans as well as the 852 Speedster-production continued to
plummet. Total output in 1934 had been only 5163; in 1936 it was just 1848. Speedster production for both years totaled around 600. In 1936, E. L. Cord returned from England to salvage his empire, but he found the Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS waiting to launch major investigations of his doings.

1936 Auburn Boattail

A promised 1937 Auburn never materialized. Cord managed to keep most of his fortune and was involved in western land speculation in his later years. He is not remembered with reverence in Auburn circles, but it is doubtful that the marque would have evolved into what it did without him. Under both E. L. Cord and Harold Ames, Auburn wrote some of motoring’s great history in the 1930s.

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Cheers, Fast Eddie

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