1. 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster

  2. 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster

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  28. 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster

Lot Number
52
From The Tom Gaughen Collection
1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster
Scottsdale Auction

Offered Without Reserve

ESTIMATE: $700,000 - $850,000
CHASSIS NO: GH3725
• Breathtaking Gordon Buehrig-penned Boattail design
• August Duesenberg-engineered supercharger
• Offered from proper ownership and collector care
• Formerly part of the Owls Head Museum and MBNA collections
• Accompanied by correspondence and other fascinating items
• AACA Senior Award winner

280 cid L-head inline eight-cylinder engine, Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger, single carburetor, 150 HP at 4,200 rpm, three-speed manual transmission, Dual-Ratio rear axle, front and rear leaf-spring suspension, four-wheel Lockheed hydraulic drum brakes; wheelbase: 127”


While Auburn confidently entered the widening Great Depression years with a strong product line and balance sheet to match, sales dropped precipitously by 1932-1933 in line with the general industry trend. Compounding the problem was the poorly received Auburn styling for 1934, plus company head E.L. Cord’s many non-automotive business interests, which divided his considerable energies and business acumen. However, rather than back down, management, staff, and workers doubled down on style, performance, and solid engineering in a valiant attempt to stem the swelling tide of red ink.

The supercharged 851 SC was the top Auburn model for 1935 and continued for 1936 as the 852 SC. The most unforgettable examples were the sleek Boattail Speedsters, crowned by a set of flexible chromed exhaust pipes already used to great effect on the rare Duesenberg SJ. For power, Auburn utilized the robust ‘GG’ Lycoming straight-eight engine, upgraded by Augie Duesenberg and Pearl Watson, who adapted a Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger using an ingenious 5:1 planetary-drive system for the supercharger, with the resultant ‘GH’ engine delivering 150 rated horsepower, a 30 percent increase, with a 10 percent torque boost. The ‘GH’ was the standard engine for the Auburn Boattail Speedster and it was offered as an option on the other Auburn 851 and subsequent 852 models for an additional $220 charge. A Columbia Dual Ratio two-speed rear axle provided brisk acceleration and strong top-speed potential with six forward speeds available. The result was breathtaking, and the new Speedster backed up its style with substance. To demonstrate its performance potential, famed racing driver and American speed-record legend Ab Jenkins became the first American to record an average speed over 100 mph for a 12-hour period in a stock 851 SC Speedster. In commemoration, each Speedster built was fitted with an engraved dash plaque bearing Jenkins’ signature. However, excitement was short-lived. While priced at $2,245 when new, it is believed that Auburn lost $300 per Speedster built. The Auburn line continued unchanged into 1936 with the Speedster, now the “852 SC Speedster,” but sales were dismal, and few were built. By the time production halted in 1937, as few as 143 supercharged Auburn 851 and 852 Speedsters were hand-built. While small in number, the Auburn Speedster remains an Art Deco-inspired design landmark that never fails to capture attention today.

As offered, this beautiful 1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster is a 1989 AACA Senior Award winner and continues to beautifully benefit from an older high-quality restoration. Finished in Cigarette Cream accented by a discreet red pin stripe over an eye-catching red interior, it is further complemented by a tan canvas folding top, and well-equipped with windshield wipers. The Speedster eventually came under the ownership of the Charles Cawley-directed MBNA Collection, which donated the car to the Owls Head Museum in Maine in September 1997. In September 2008, our consignor was able to purchase this stunning vehicle from the Museum and since then, this passionate collector and ACD Club member provided the Speedster with proper care, maintenance, and storage. Today, the rare Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster remains instantly recognizable and unlike any other automobile ever produced. When new, Auburn’s sales brochures rightly touted the Gordon Buehrig design as “Exclusive-Distinctive-Individual,” and who could possibly disagree? In short, it stands as an unsurpassed and all-around Classic Era masterpiece.

1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster
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