Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Back at the A-C-D Museum – Other ‘Off Brand’ Vehicles

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond, as well as our exploration of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn Indiana.  In this segment, I’ll explore some of the other vehicles that comprise an important portion of this first class museum’s total collection.

Charles H. Black was the owner of a carriage works and blacksmith shop in Indianapolis Indiana.  After driving a neighbor’s Benz in 1891, Black felt the urge to build his own ‘horseless carriage’.  He is thought to have completed his car in 1893.  He used a buggy for the coachwork and its drive was supplied by two different belts, one providing low gear and the other high gear.  This vehicle was powered by a single cylinder motor producing 8 HP.

Mr. Black drove this automobile around Indianapolis for more than 20 years.  His daughter donated the car to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 1927.  In the late 1890s and into 1900, Black built a more refined version of his gasoline ‘buggy’.  Most carried his name but a few were named “Indianapolis”.  In 1900 he sold his patents to investors for $20,000 and they produced the “Black” under 

Continuing with the lesser known or unusual early automobiles, this is a 1908 2-passenger Zimmerman Model G.  It came with a 2-cylinder engine that produced 14 HP.  The Zimmerman was more elegant than many of the early ‘motor buggies, with its engine in place under that lovely curved hood.  This Zimmerman was the first automobile to be donated to the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. 

‘Highwheelers’ like this one were very popular in the early years of the automobile industry.  Rural customers needed vehicles that could withstand the rough and rutted roads that existed in those days.  Basically, a ‘highwheeler’ was a buggy with an engine.  Many if not most of the companies building ‘highwheelers’ had initially been in the carriage industry.  FYI, the Zimmerman Manufacturing Company was based in Auburn Indiana and they produced automobiles from 1907 to 1915.

Now for another automobile made in Auburn Indiana… The W.H. McIntyre Company, with its predecessor, the W. H. Kiblinger Company, built cars in Auburn from 1907 to 1915.  The first photo above is a 1908 McIntyre Model M ‘Autobuggy’.  This vehicle is a combination passenger auto and commercial car.  The Autobuggy’s rear seat is removable and the rear section of the car has a tailgate on it.  Once that second seat was removed and the gate was put in use, the Autobuggy became a commercial truck that could carry 1,200 pounds of product.  The Autobuggy was powered by a 2-cylinder motor producing 18 HP.

The second photo is a 1909 McIntyre Model 251.  It is a light duty truck that was equipped with a 2-cylinder engine that produced 20 HP.  This is the only surviving example of this type of McIntyre vehicle.  It was badly damaged in a fire in 1993.  The Museum’s volunteer maintenance team, working in conjunction with a carriage restorer and museum staff members, completely restored this truck.  In 1995, it was actually driven into the museum.  FYI, this light truck cost $800 new.

This unusual automobile is considered a premier early sports car from Belgium.  The 4-cylinder 14 HP Metallurgique was delivered new in 1911 to Ballindallach Castle in Scotland.  This early boattail speedster was restored in 1964 and it received a first place award from the Antique Automobile Club of America. 

This is believed to be the only Metallurgique in the U.S.A.  This car is a movie star…as it was in the movie “The Great Race” in 1965.  The chief engineer for the Metallurgique left Belgium in 1923 and he took over as the assistant chief engineer for Stutz in Indianapolis… Metallurgique autos were built from 1898 until 1927.

This is a 1911 Izzer.  It was named “Izzer” because the man who ordered it wanted an up-to-date, custom-built car with all the modern improvements…not just the ‘was-ers’ or ‘has-beens’ that filled America’s roads back in this period.  He took his auto-building ideas to the Model Gas Engine Works in Peru Indiana…and he commissioned the “Izzer”.

The owner of the Model Gas Engine Works was so happy with the vehicle that he built that he built 2 more Izzers.  One was for himself and the other was for his office manager.  The Izzer Runabout has a 4 cylinder engine that produces 20 HP.  This is the only Izzer to survive and it is the one that was specially built for the original owner.  The original cost was $1,995.

If you though that “Izzer” was an unusual name for an automobile, how about this 1913 “Imp” 2-seater Cyclecar!  Between 1913 and 1915, there was a cyclecar craze in the U.S.A.  A large number of manufacturers offered light-weight, belt-driven vehicles with motorcycle-like engines.  The Imp’s engine was a 2-cylinder version that produced 15 HP. 

Cyclecars were relatively inexpensive and they were a fun way to own an automobile.  William B. Stout, who later designed and built the Ford Tri-Motor airplane and his own line of autos, designed the Imp.  He sold the idea to the McIntyre Company and they set up a new division, the Imp Cyclecar Company.  The Imp was only produced in 1913 and 1914

The 1923 sporty looking Stutz Speedway Four Roadster has a 4-cylinder engine that produces 88 HP.  With the available horsepower, (more than Cadillac and Packard Autos of this period), the Stutz could reach speeds of up to 80 miles-per-hour.

The Stutz Motor Car Company of Indianapolis Indiana was an American manufacturer of high-end sports and luxury cars.  Production began in 1911 and ended in 1935.

With improved profits in the years after WWI, Stutz was in a good position to push for increased sales… But by 1921, the auto industry was in a period of decline and Stutz needed to find a way to increase the demand for their autos.  This 4-cylinder motor with its horsepower was their answer.  However, low demand killed off the demand for this model and production ceased.  Only a handful of this model of the Stutz Roadster still survive.

Yes, this is a Studebaker and we had just visited that museum…and I just featured plenty of vehicles made by Studebaker.  But, just in the interest of showing the variety of automobiles featured at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, here is just one more Studebaker.

This is the very elegant 1932 Studebaker President Eight Four Seasons Roadster.  The President Eight (8 cylinder engine producing 122 HP), was in production from 1927 until 1942.  This model represents one of the most desirable and beautiful Studebakers ever built.  Only 9 known examples of this automobile exist.

Yes, I know.  This is ‘just a 1933 Ford’.  However it was part of a Special Exhibit at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum that featured John Dillinger memorabilia.  It was entitled “John Dillinger, Hoosier Hoodlum”.

On October 14, 1933, part of Dillinger’s gang actually robbed the Auburn Indiana Police Department.  They stole bullet-proof vests, ammunition and a number of weapons, including a Thompson submachine gun.  Although the prized piece on display was that very same submachine gun as shown above, it also included a 1933 Ford V-8 that once belonged to Sheriff Lillian Holley, who was stationed at Indiana’s Crown Point jail during Dillinger’s short stay there in 1934.  That was where Dillinger used a wooden gun to famously escape.  He then stole the Sheriff’s Ford and headed north to Chicago.  Yes, that item at the lower right of the display that features the submachine gun is indeed Dillinger’s death mask.

The variety of automotive displays continues.  This is a 1933 Chrysler Imperial Roadster.  Love that maroon trim!  This auto was powered by an in-line 8 cylinder engine that produced 132 HP.  Only 155 Imperials were produced in 1933 and of those, only 9 roadsters were built…of which only 6 exist.  When new, this automobile cost $3,295.

The Great Depression hit all of the major automobile companies hard.  High-end models suffered the most.  Of course this was the year that Chrysler built 2 new series of Imperials with the “Custom Line” designation.  These were the most expensive series of Chrysler automobiles that year.  It featured a silent 3-speed transmission and that long cowl-less hood as well as a coincidental starter and accelerator…both being accomplished with the same pedal

In an earlier post, this airplane was visible in a photo of a Cord Automobile.  So why is the airplane in the Museum? 

The airplane was built by the Stinson Aircraft Company of Dayton Ohio.  The company was founded by Eddie Stinson in 1920.  Automotive mogul E.L. Cord acquired 60% of Stinson Aircraft’s stock in 1929…and that cash infusion allowed Eddie Stenson to offer 6 different models of his airplanes in 1930.  Among them was the Stinson 600 Trimotor, a 10 passenger aircraft used by many early airlines.

The airplane on display is a 1946 Stinson V-77 Gullwing.  Actually, these airplanes were built for military use during WWII as utility aircraft and especially by the Army Air Corp for training.  After the war, they were sold as surplus as the V-77 Gullwing.

Incidentally, Eddie Stinson was killed when the plane he was flying crashed on a golf course in Chicago.  At that time, he was the world’s most experienced pilot with more than 16,000 flight hour logged.

We both love Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg automobiles.  However, we also love Packard automobiles!  This is a 1938-39 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria with V-12 engine developing 175 HP.  It has 4-wheel hydraulic brakes.  These cars set the standard for refinement, class and distinction.  This particular car is a 59,000 mile original that has only been repainted once in 1995, and it is still sporting its original Chinese red paint color.  It has only had 4 owners.

The donors of this classic maintained it for over 35 years.  Among the unusual features are dash, bumper supports and hubcap trim stripes painted in body color.  The Packard Twelve was available in two different wheelbases and 14 body styles.  This particular style was the most expensive of this series at $5,320.  Given the fact that the Great Depression was still hanging on, it is a bit surprising to me that 566 Packard Twelves were produced in 1938

I know that this automobile is unusual.  It is a prototype 1948 Tasco.  It is powered by a V-8 engine that produces 150 HP.  The front fenders are made of fiberglass and the roof panels are plexi-glass.  The name Tasco stands for The American Sports Car Company.

A group of investors who wanted to build a sports car that would be suitable for a European type race to be held at Watkins Glen New York.  One member of this investor group was Gordon Buehrig, one of America’s most well-known and prolific automotive designers.  Among his designs there was the Stutz Black Hawk, the Model J Duesenberg, the Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster and the Cord 810/812.  He also designed automobiles for Studebaker and the Ford Motor Company.

Buehrig performed the design work on the Tasco and he oversaw the production of this single prototype vehicle.  It has an aluminum body and it was the first car in the world with a T-top roof, an idea Buehrig patented.  He later sued General Motors when the 1968 Corvette came out with a T-top roof.  The original development and production cost for this prototype was $57,000.  They had hoped that the production version would sell for somewhere in the $7,500 range.  The numbers didn’t work and the car was never put into production

This is the last automobile from our visit to the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum in Auburn Indiana.  It is a 1951 Jaguar XK 120.  The XK series of Jaguars was born during the dark days of WWII by two designers during the few minutes they had between their war related efforts.  This series of sports cars was introduced in 1948 and its sleek design was a media sensation.  It was a new standard of sports car luxury while still providing sports car performance.  Relatively lightweight, it is powered by an in-line 6 cylinder engine with twin overhead cams.  The engine produced 160 HP and this Jaguar could reach speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.  If you had purchased this car new, it would have set you back $4,039.

Looking for any automotive brands in particular?  There are many more Auburns, Cords and Duesenberg’s on exhibit in the museum.  Beyond those…and in addition to the automobiles I’ve listed above, there are many more vehicles in the collection.  In no particular order, here are some of the brand names: Locomobile, Haynes, Crosley, Westcott, LaSalle, Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, Checker, Rolls-Royce, Cole, Thunderbird, Sunbeam, Lincoln, International Harvester, Ruxton, Premier, Graham, Cunningham, Eckhart, Mitchell, Kiblinger, Cisitalia, Marmon, Lexington, Corvette, Chevrolet, Apperson, Waverley Electric and, Stearns-Knight. 

Well, that’s about it for the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum… In addition to all the autos, there are special and focused exhibits.  One that was underway during our visit involved 150 or so auto hood ornaments and emblems.  It was very artistic and spectacular all by itself.

We would highly recommend a visit to the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum.  You don’t have to love cars to appreciate the design…the art behind these spectacular automobiles.  The Museum is located at 1600 Wayne Street in Auburn Indiana.  Phone: 260-925-1444.  They are open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily.  Website: https://automobilemuseum.org/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Jumping Ahead a Bit – Not an Auto Museum

…continuing with our late summer road trip to Michigan and beyond.  Taking a break from the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, I’m jumping around a bit, both before and after our exploration of the Museum. 

This is the Noble County Courthouse in Albion Indiana.  Built in 1889, this 2.5 story Richardson Romanesque style red brick structure is accented with limestone trim and that massive square center tower.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is the centerpiece of the Albion Courthouse Square Historic District.  The District itself includes 61 contributing buildings encompassing both the business district and nearby residential sections of town.

Albion was laid out in 1846 and the first courthouse was built a year later.  That building burned down in 1859 and it was replaced by a brick structure, which by 1887 was both too small and too dilapidated to house the growing county government.  Albion has a population of a little over 2,200.

Noble County was named for James Noble, a Virginian who moved to the area in 1811.  When Indiana became a state in 1816, Noble was elected as a United States Senator.  He died in in Washington D.C. while serving in that position. 

This is the Auburn Indiana City Hall.  The cornerstone was laid in 1913 and the building was completed in 1914.  The cost was $37,686.70.  The city’s fire department occupied one section of the building as did the Police Department.  The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the era when notorious bank robber John Dillinger was causing havoc in Northern Indiana, Auburn’s Chief of Police made a much publicized statement regarding the arsenal the city would use to protect itself from the gang.  On October 14, 1933, the police station, still located in this building, was robbed at gunpoint by a trio of well-dressed men.  The group stole guns, including a Thompson Machine Gun and protective ‘bullet-proof’ vests.  Dillinger subsequently wrote a letter to the Police Chief, thanking him for the equipment.  However, he also expressed dismay that the vests weren’t really bullet proof…as one of Dillinger’s men was killed in a bank robbery while wearing one.

The name for the town most likely came from “The Deserted Village”, a poem by Oliver Goldsmith.  The poem begins, “Sweet Auburn!  Loveliest village of the plain.”  The village of Auburn was first plated in April of 1836.  Interestingly, census records show that despite the collapse of Auburn’s once thriving auto industry, the town has never shown a population decline dating all the way back to 1850.  Today, with a population of 13,400 plus, it comprises about 30% of all of DeKalb county’s residents.

Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cornerstone for the DeKalb County Courthouse in Auburn, was laid in July of 1911.  The principal speaker at the formal dedication was Thomas R. Marshall, then the Governor of Indiana as well as the Democratic Candidate for Vice President of the United States.  He served 2 terms as Vice President under President Woodrow Wilson.

This is the third courthouse for the county and it is located on the site of its predecessors.  The building was completed in 1914 at a cost of $317,072.14 including the structure and furnishings.

The downtown Auburn Historic District was the birthplace of the buggy and carriage manufacturers which spawned early automotive production.  The City, known as the “Classic Car Capital of the World” and as one of the birthplaces of America’s automotive industry, was the home to many early automotive brands.  They include Auburn, Auburn Motor Buggy, Cord, DeSoto, Moterette, Eckhart, Handy Wagon, IMP-McIntyre, Kiblinger, McIntyre Special, Model Union, Zimmerman and Black.  The historic downtown area of Auburn is reflective of the early days of the auto industry.

We weren’t very hungry despite a day of visiting and walking through museums.  I’d done a little research and we chose Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room at 114 North Main Street in Auburn as our source of evening sustenance.  This restaurant/tap room is one of 6 operated by this local chain.  They also operate 2 breweries… Sorry for the lousy photo as I had to borrow it from the Internet.

Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room is located in an old refurbished building that had been home to a small town department store.  The ambiance in both the bar and dining area was a mix of warm brick and wood with an industrial flair.  The ‘look’ or ‘feeling’ projected by the bar area was quite appealing to me.

Laurie was quite happy with a couple of Margaritas and I went for Mad Anthony’s Blonde Lager.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not into heavy or ‘hoppy’ beers.

Laurie wasn’t hungry so we decided to go for appetizers instead of something more serious.  We started with the Scotch Eggs. ($9.50) These hard boiled eggs were encased in country sausage and then flash-fried and served with house made ranch dressing.  Maybe it was the sausage they used, but we thought that this version of Scotch eggs was bland and tasteless.  At least they were filling…for me…as Laurie just didn’t like them at all.

Laurie’s family once owned a dairy in Wisconsin so she was raised on and has fine memories of cheese curds.  Consequently, they were the second appetizer that we ordered. ($9.00) There were plenty of them but that was the only positive.  These flash fried cheese curds tasted like they were lightly breaded…and then they had grated parmesan sprinkled on top of them.  Not a winner in our book…but I sure was solving any personal hunger pangs.

Our third foray into the appetizer menu was an order of the “Large Crispy Chicken Wings” lavished with ‘your favorite sauce’ and served with either ranch or bleu cheese dressing. (5 for $8/10 for $16/20 for $32) With only 5 sauce options, we didn’t have many choices for our favorite sauce, but we decided on the Sweet Thai Chile.  The wings were very nice and Laurie finally had something a bit more substantial than one section of Scotch egg and 3 or 4 cheese curds to go with her Martinis.

To be fair, one should explore more of the menu offered at Mad Anthony’s Auburn Tap Room before rendering a harsh judgement.  The menu offered quite a variety of food for diners to select from.  Jambalaya Pasta, Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash, Shrimp and Grits, several salads, ‘Smash Burgers’, a plethora of wraps and sandwiches, plus 3 versions of mac ‘n cheese, street tacos and of course, pizza.  Mad Anthony’s obviously has many fans, otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to grow the company…

To learn more about Mad Anthony’s, it’s brewery offerings and the company’s various locations, just go to: https://www.madbrew.com/.

We took back roads and state highways from Auburn Indiana for most of the way to our next destination, which was Dayton Ohio.  Along the way, we were ‘gobsmacked’ when we passed through the down of Van Wert Ohio.  The over the top architecture blew us away.

This is the Van Wert County Courthouse.  Located at 121 East Main Street, this is a Second Empire style structure that was built in 1876.  It wasn’t easy to photograph…hence the image shown above.  This courthouse is a ‘statement’ that’s for sure!  The huge square structure has towers in all 4 corners…and it is a complete vision of brick and stone.  The architect used several groundbreaking techniques throughout the structure, one of them being pressed steel.  The clock tower with a statue of Justice in its niche is kind of like icing on the cake.  The statue itself is 8 feet tall and before its installation, it won first place in a Philadelphia sculpture competition.

FYI, the city and county of Van Wert are named for Isaac Van Wart, one of those who captured British spy Major John Andre in the Revolutionary War.  The area is a center of peony cultivation and it has frequently hosted the annual Van Wert Peony Festival since 1902.  The county is also home to the first county library in the United States

Things…good things are happening in Van Wert Ohio.  Just check out the photos…a sampling of critical revitalization and preservation!  The Van Wert County Foundation has spearheaded an undertaking called “Van Wert Forward”. 

More than 50 older building in various states of decay are slated to be restored at a price tag approaching $100 million.  The city had lost its largest building in the Main Street area and that spurred action.  The Foundation put up close to $20 million of its own money along with state grants and tax credits…and they are obviously moving forward.

To learn more, check out the following article: https://www.wane.com/top-stories/van-wert-receives-tax-credits-for-downtown-redevelopment/.

OK…not at the museum…but still another automobile.  I spotted this 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sedan in a parking lot and I had to take a photo!  After all, it’s almost as old as I am and it looks like it’s in better shape too… The Fleetmaster was built by Chevrolet in 1946, 1947 and 1948…but the license plate on this one said 1947.  These cars came equipped with a straight 6-cylinder engine and a 3 speed manual transmission.

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Automobiles as Works of Art…Metal Sculptures

Laurie and I had visited the Auburn – Cord – Duesenberg Museum in Auburn Indiana many, many years ago.  Although many beautiful and/or interesting automobiles were built in the U.S.A., Canada and overseas, we believe that this grouping of early (pre-1940) U.S. built cars are truly works of art.  In our minds, this is an art museum, with many of these cars representing fine art or at the very least, extraordinary examples of functional industrial design…  

The photos show the exterior of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and the main display gallery on the first floor of this automotive art sanctuary.

Opened in 1974, the museum occupies the former administration building of the Auburn Automobile Company.  The Art Deco style structure was built in 1930.  The display gallery shown above was where automobiles and other products produced by Auburn were once displayed.  The structure is a National Historic Landmark and it is recognized as one of the U.S.A.’s best-preserved examples of an independent automobile manufacturer’s facilities.  After Auburn stopped producing cars, until 1960 this building was home to a business that sold original and reproduction parts for several discontinued automobile manufacturers.

The Auburn Automobile Company had its origins with the Eckhart Carriage Company that was founded in Auburn Indiana in 1824.  The founder’s sons got into the automobile business in the early 1900’s and were moderately successful until materials shortages during WWI forced them to stop production.  In 1924, Errett Lobban Cord was approached with an offer to run the company… He countered with what amounted to a leveraged buyout.  After the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression which followed, Auburn’s expensive autos, along with its very expensive sister marque autos, Duesenberg and Cord, suffered critical sales downturns. 

Around 1935, Auburn began producing a line of kitchen cabinets and sinks to keep the company afloat.  All vehicle production was halted in 1937.  After a 1940 bankruptcy reorganization, the former Auburn Automobile Company merged with the Central Manufacturing Company into the Auburn Central Manufacturing Corporation.  That company received large contracts for WWII production work.  Among their most notable WWII contributions was the manufacturing of about half a million of the World War II Willys and Ford 1/4-ton jeep bodies.

This 1904 automobile is probably the earliest Auburn still in existence.  Total production for the Auburn Automobile Company in 1904 was about 50 vehicles.  Auburn had debuted its cars at the 1903 Auto Show in Chicago but at this point, Auburns were only being sold in a few Midwestern states.  This auto was powered by a two-cylinder engine that produced 10 HP.  Power was transferred to the rear wheels by a chain.  The price of this car was originally $1,250.

This is a 1910 Auburn Model S Roadster, part of the largest line of autos that Auburn produced in 1910.  This racy-looking Auburn was typical of the vehicles upon which the company was building its reputation.  This 3-passenger roadster featured a ‘mother-in-law seat, it weighed 2,400 pounds and the motor produced 40 HP.  Original cost = $1,650.

Note: In 1910, U.S. auto production totaled 181,000 vehicles.  1,365 of them were built by Auburn.  Given the large number of auto manufacturers in 1910, Auburn was doing pretty well...

This brass beauty is a 1912 Auburn 30L Runabout Speedster.  It cost $1,100 and it featured 5 carbide headlamps lit with acetylene gas, a horn and a tool kit.  The motor was built by the Rutenber Motor Company of Chicago.  This was one of four models produced by Auburn in 1912… Total production that year came to just over 1,600 autos.

Note: In 1898, Edwin Rutenber built the first 4-cylinder engine to be manufactured in the U.S.A.  His engines were used in a wide variety of early automotive models for various companies.  They were also used in trucks, airplanes, tractors and in many more applications.

This is a 1919 Auburn Beauty-Six Roadster.  Love the Rolls-Royce Blue with black fenders.  Only a few of these cars have survived.  They were powered by a 6-cylinder motor that produced 43 HP.  Its weight had increased to 2,885 pounds.  A new Beauty-Six cost $1,595 new.  

By 1919 the Auburn Automobile Company had new owners, a group of Chicago investors that included chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr.    For the first time the company’s autos were marketed nationwide.  This was a record year for sales, with more than 6,000 Auburns being sold.

This is a 1927 Duesenberg Model X Phaeton… Only 13 chassis were built and only 5 of them actually received a finished automotive body.  The Phaeton coachwork was completed by Locke and Company in New York City.  That company also built auto bodies for Chrysler and Lincoln.  In any case, it is thought that only 2 of these Phaeton model Duesenberg’s were ever built.  This one was part of famous automotive collector and casino owner Bill Harrah’s collection and he had it completely restored.  This auto weighs 4,000 pounds and it was powered by an 8-cylinder engine that produced 100 HP.  I found that one of these cars sold in the not too distant past for a ‘mere’ $527,500. 

A little background… Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company, Inc. was founded in Indianapolis Indiana by brothers Fred and August Duesenberg in 1920.  This American racing and luxury automobile manufacturer is known for popularizing the straight-eight engine and 4-wheel hydraulic brakes.  Duesenberg autos won the Indianapolis 500 in 1922, 1924, 1925 and 1927 as well as the French Grand Prix in 1921.  The company struggled financially and entered receivership in 1924.  Duesenberg was purchased by Errett Lobban Cord in 1926.

This is a fine re-creation of the original 1929 Auburn Cabin Speedster.  Only 1 of these cars was ever built.  The company intended it as an example of forward thinking and design for display at auto shows.  One was on display at the 1929 Los Angeles Auto Show but it was destroyed when a fire broke out in the huge tent erected for the event.  In 30 minutes, both the tent and the 320 autos on display were completely destroyed. 

For 54 years, the only memories of this one-off automobile were in photos and toy cars.  In 1983, a doctor in La Porte Indiana began the process to recreate the Cabin Speedster.  This faithfully executed rebuild used an Auburn chassis and aluminum over an ash frame.

These 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet automobiles are just stunning to look at… With the success of race car builder Harry Miller’s front-wheel drive race car at the Indianapolis 500 in 1925, E.L. Cord approached Miller with the idea of incorporating front-wheel drive into passenger cars.  Introduced in 1929, these automobiles were the first successful mass-produced front-wheel drive automobiles.  The elimination of the long drive train needed previously, allowed for an 11 inch reduction in the height of these cars.  The 1920 Cord L-29 Cabriolet sported an 8 cylinder engine that developed 125 HP.  They weighed 4,300 pounds and retailed for $3,195. 

The 1931 Duesenberg Model J Beverly Sedan is one of Duesenberg’s most recognized body styles.  The auto’s low silhouette and slanted windshield create a stylish and nicely proportioned body design…which is further accentuated by the long wheelbase chassis.  The interior has an armchair rear seat, elegant cabinetry and passenger instrumentation.  A radio and even a women’s Tiffany silver makeup set is included in the highly appointed interior.

This auto’s Beverly body was built by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena California.  This company was a frequent coachbuilder used by Duesenberg.  This Model J Beverly Sedan is two-tone brown with a tan and wood interior.  It is powered by a straight 8 cylinder motor that produces 265 HP.  The vehicle weighs approximately 5,500 pounds…just 5oo pounds short of 3 tons…and it would have cost $16,500 when new.  The weight sounds like a lot…but today a large SUV weighs in at an average of 5,600 pounds.

Note: In January of 2022, a Duesenberg Model J Tourister sold for $3,415,000.

Both of the autos pictured above are 1932 Auburn 12 – 160As.  The difference is that the first photo is of a Speedster model.  The 1932 Auburn Speedster was owned by Sam Collier, who named this car “Beelzebub”.  Collier was one of the persons who helped form the Automobile Racing Club of America.  The car was modified for racing by adding the small windshields, a big tachometer, additional lamps and a copper cooling coil.  With its V-12 engine producing 60 HP, this auto raced in Europe and Memphis Tennessee, where it won top honors for its class.  In 1937, it also came in second in the Climb to the Clouds Race held at Mt. Washington, New Hampshire.

The second 1932 Auburn 12 – 16oA pictured above is the sedan version of this car.  It too has a V-12 engine…but it produces 160 HP.  This automobile was purchased in 1932 by Robert Heinemann of Hamilton Ohio.  Amazingly, this fully original Auburn has only been driven 8,800 miles since it was purchased.  It was stored and maintained by the original owner for several decades…and still even has instruction tags in place for the 2-speed rear axle and the free-wheeling device.  This auto is often used as a template for persons who are restoring a similar car.

This stunning and attention grabbing automobile is a 1934 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton.  Note the dual windshields mounted on the cowlings.  That rear windshield would be raised to protect the passengers in the back seat when the top was down.  Look closely and you can see that it is folded down with the car’s top up.  This particular model Duesenberg featured a Straight 8 engine that developed 265 HP.  Weighing in a 5,500 pounds, it cost $14,750 new.  In today’s dollars, it is the equivalent of $326,698!

When E.L. Cord took control of Duesenberg, he had the brothers come up with a new model that would top all other American cars.  The Duesenberg Model J and its various iterations was the answer.  This luxury auto with its 265 HP engine paired with auto bodies and cabins custom-built by coachbuilders was the result of this request.  Prices matched the design and luxury with Model J’s ranging from $14,000 to $20,000 at the time.  They’ve been referred to as America’s version of the Rolls-Royce.  Duesenberg Model J’s were very popular with movie stars, royalty and other wealthy individuals...

The two cars shown above are both 1935 Auburn Speedsters.  They were equipped with supercharged Lycoming 8-cylinder motors producing 150 HP and they have a 3-speed manual transmission.  Original cost was $2,245.

These autos were designed to maximize speed and to make a social statement.  Every car was tested by a renowned race car driver to over 100 miles per hour. Actually, in an effort to spur sagging sales and to gain publicity for the Auburn 851 Speedsters, Auburn attempted to set speed and endurance records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  They used a stock 1935 851 Speedster model in their efforts.  The whole thing was sanctioned by the AAA Motor Club.  The Auburn Speedster set 70 new American and International Stock Car records.  A “Flying Mile” record was set at 103 miles per hour and the 1,000 mile mark was realized at 103 miles per hour.

The auto pictured above is a 1936 Auburn 852 Phaeton.  In the final years of production, Auburn Automotive Company’s exports to countries around the world were close to 20% of the company’s total business.  The first owner of this Phaeton lived in Cyprus.  It retailed for $1,795 plus shipping.  He had plans to use it for a road trip from Italy to Berlin Germany for the 1936 Olympic Games.  During WWII, this vehicle was used by the British military…but when they saw how much gas it used with its Lycoming supercharged engine, the military put it in storage.  After the war, the auto was brought back to the U.S.A. by a car loving serviceman…

Lycoming was originally a sewing machine company.  When that became unprofitable, the company was restructured and it shifted its focus on automobile engine manufacturing.  By 1920, Lycoming was producing 60,000 engines a year and the company employed 2,000 workers.  In 1927, E.L. Cord bought Lycoming and placed it under his Auburn Manufacturing umbrella grouping...

This is a 1937 Cord 812 2-door, Convertible Phaeton Sedan.  It was equipped with an 8-cylinder, 125 HP engine and a 4-speed vacuum electric transmission.  I love the ‘Cigarette Cream’ color which was complemented by the tan leather interior.  About 3,000 1936 and 1937 Cords were produced before E.L. Cord closed down his operations.  Note the hidden headlights...

Production of the Auburn had stopped in 1936 and the Cord was seen as the last hope to keep the business alive.  The Cord automobiles were re-named the 812 and new options, such as supercharged engines and custom bodies for more head and leg room, were offered to customers.

The company also accepted requests from individual customers who desired custom modifications on their Cord.  One such modification was the dual side-mounted spare tires, rather than the standard placement inside the trunk.  That change allowed for extra trunk space as well as mounting space for side view mirrors.  Only 2 Cord automobiles were built with dual side-mounts...

To learn more about E.L. Cord (1894 – 1974) just go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Errett_Lobban_Cord.  The Cord Corporation was a holding company that controlled over 150 companies…including the company that evolved into American Airlines.  Later in life, he was heavily involved in radio and television. 

There will be one more post regarding the Auburn – Cord – Duesenberg Museum…this time it will cover a portion of the ‘other’ autos on display throughout the building.  To check out the museum in advance, just go to https://automobilemuseum.org/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave