1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton Convertible Sedan
Chassis no. 10761 H
Engine no. GU 46684
Transmission no. 3M-1-E
Body no. L-28 2008
269ci, Lycoming 98hp straight 8
Three-speed manual transmission
Rare, desirable body
Recent, long-term ownership
CCCA Full Classic®
While the American automobile industry's development in its formative years had been guided by the inventor/engineer, its progress between the wars was shaped not so much by technicians as by entrepreneurs. One such was Auburn boss Errett Lobban Cord, who once admitted to having made and lost $50,000 three times in the course of his business dealings, and all before reaching the age of 21! When Cord joined Auburn as general manager in 1924 the company was in the doldrums, making more cars than it could sell and heading for bankruptcy. After some Cord-inspired restyling, Auburn sales picked up and the stage was set for the creation of a glorious new automotive empire. From the moment E L Cord arrived however, the company's fortunes improved markedly. In 1925 Cord arranged for Lycoming straight-eight engines to be installed in the existing six-cylinder chassis and instigated a re-styling programme that saw the new-for-'25 Auburns featuring two-tone colour schemes and a novel beltline that swept up over the bonnet. Sales doubled for three consecutive years and in 1926 Cord became president of the Auburn Automobile Company.
The eight-cylinder Auburns were soon challenging Stutz for the accolade of 'America's fastest', Al Leamy driving an 8-115 Speedster at 108.46mph over the measured mile at Daytona in 1928 and going on to take the 24 hours record at Atlantic City Speedway. Not only were they outstanding performers, the eight-cylinder Auburns also represented exceptional value for money: at $1,395 the top-of-the-range '31 Speedster was less than half the price of the equivalent Stutz. "More car for the money than the public has ever seen," reckoned Business Week magazine.
The 1931 was the first of the sweeping fender, long hood Auburns, a design which was used through to 1933. The double-drop X braced frame allowed the overall height to be three inches lower than previous models, making open cars look more rakish and giving the closed Coupe, Sedan and Brougham a sinister but appealing look, particularly since the model shared the chassis, hood and front fenders with the speedster.
Of the many body styles put forward, the Convertible Phaeton Sedan, priced at a quite-reasonable $1,345, was undoubtedly regarded as the top-of-the-line offering. The Auburn Phaetons featured exclusive options including roll-up windows and removable center pillars for a tight seal with the top raised.
Offered here is a well-known example of such an Auburn. A reliable CCCA Grand Caravan tour car for many years, this Convertible Phaeton has been restored and preserved for two decades and was in the same ownership for more than a quarter-century before, during and after its concours-correct restoration. The car's history is well-known and documented by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club, who have recognized this car with a Category 1 Certification as an original and unmolested example of its type in every respect.
The car is nicely optioned with dual sidemounted spare wheels, an accessory trunk and rack, dual chrome horns and driving lamps. The interior was recently retrimmed in new and correct black leather that compliments its alluring black and silver exterior finish accented by chrome bumpers, chrome spoke wheels with wide whitewall tires, beautifully-restored factory-applied custom trim and stately tan cloth convertible top. In addition to its good looks, this car is also said to run, shift and drive with smoothness and quiet not often associated with cars of this era; its 98 horsepower inline eight-cylinder engine easily propelling the car smoothly down the road and with surprisingly good acceleration.
Because of the significance Auburns represent, all eight-cylinder examples are recognized as CCCA Full Classics® and are eligible for all events held by the Classic Car Club of America. A fine driving example certain to impress on long CCCA Caravan tours, yet also appropriate for inclusion at any Concours d'Elegance, the Auburn is a supremely desirable addition to any discerning collection of fine Classic motorcars.
- Please note that this vehicle is titled under its engine number.