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Douglas ( -1 )

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Registered: April 2008
Location: Woodstock, GA
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1936 Auburn 852 Supercharged Dual Ratio Boattail Speedster
Quantity Views Date Posted
1 10130 6/18/2009
Asking Price Shipping Amount Condition
$291,500.00 None Auction Results
Description: 1936 Auburn 852 Supercharged Dual Ratio Boattail Speedster
Worldwide Group Auctions
The Houston Classic Auction
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Website: www.wwgauctions.com
Lot # 81

Eight-cylinder L-head inline engine with supercharger, 3.062 x 4.75ï¾” bore and stroke, 279.9 cid, 150 horsepower, three-speed gearbox, semi-elliptic suspension, four-wheel hydraulic brakes; wheelbase: 127".
CHASSIS NO: 5266; engine # GH3217

AACA National First Place Award Winner

Auburn has become known for its boattail speedsters, even though they accounted for little of its production ï¾– and much less of its commercial success. The Boattail was showroom candy, intended to draw sales prospects into Auburn dealers where they would be overcome by the allure of the Boattail Speedster and empty their pockets to drive out in a more practical Auburn sedan, coupe, cabriolet, or phaeton.

Auburn brought Gordon Buehrig in from Duesenberg to redesign its line for 1935 after a largely uninspired 1934 line proved less than successful at turning prospects into customers. An attractively redesigned grille that nearly merged at its lower extremity with the dropped center of the front bumper carried back through skirted front fenders and straight hood side vents to skirted, rounded rear fenders, and a straight beltline molding. Power came from Lycoming engines with the 851 powered by the 280 cubic inch straight eight rated at 115 horsepower. Firmly established within the Auburn Cord Duesenberg organization was access to supercharging technology in the form of Augie Duesenberg, one of the real geniuses of forced induction during the period. The line-topping 851/852 took advantage of Augieï¾’s skill with a Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger running through a planetary gearbox and chain drive that spun the blower at six times crankshaft speed. Developed by Augie and Pearl Watson, it bumped the power of the Lycoming GH-designated engine to 150 horsepower at 4,000 rpm with 232 ft-lb torque at 2,800 rpm. Both for marketing identification and to dispel some of the high output engineï¾’s heat all supercharged Auburns sported a set of four flexible outside exhaust head pipes. It added $250-$325 to the price of an eight-cylinder Auburn, about $9/horsepower.

Auburn found itself with about 100 Speedster bodies at Union City Body, left over from the eight-105 and 12-165 of 1933. Being at a point in its corporate life when frugality was a virtue, and in need of something ï¾– anything ï¾– to draw traffic to Auburn dealers, Buehrig was given the task of coming up with a way to utilize them. He patterned the resulting Speedsters after a successful Weymann bodied Duesenberg he had designed, salvaging the middle of the Union City speedster bodies, including the top mechanism, cowl, doors, and windshield, and creating new gracefully tapered tail sections and rounded teardrop fenders from temporary tooling.

As the pinnacle of Auburnï¾’s extensive six- and eight-cylinder product line, each of the Speedsters was powered by the Lycoming GH engine with its Augie Duesenberg/Pearl Watson Schwitzer supercharger.

One of them was entrusted to Ab Jenkins who took it to the Bonneville salt flats in July 1935 where he performed his accustomed feats, setting 70 records including posting a flying mile at 104.17 mph, 1,000 miles at 102.77 mph, and averaging 102.9 mph for 12 hours. Auburn took full advantage of Jenkinsï¾’ achievements, to the point of affixing a plaque on the dash of every 851 and 852 Speedster stating that Jenkins had exceeded 100mph with it. He hadnï¾’t, but it reminded everyone of the Speedsterï¾’s capabilities and gave bragging rights to the occasional young sport who showed up at an Auburn dealer with $2,245 burning a hole in his pocket.

Such was the allure of the Auburn 851/852 Supercharged Dual Ratio Speedster that it has spawned more replicas and tributes than any other all-American automobile. Its combination of exceptional performance with a competent chassis and taut, voluptuous design has made it an established automotive icon. Buehrigï¾’s accomplishment with the Auburn Speedster is no less a milestone than his next assignment, the coffin-nosed 810 Cord. The 1935-36 Auburn 851/852 Speedster is one of the singular designs in automobile history, a physical shape which is instantly recognizable even under a sheet or car cover. There is simply nothing else like it.

The survival rate of Auburn Speedsters is a further tribute to their allure, as well as to the quality of their construction and their robust Lycoming engines and drivelines. Even as used cars, long past their prime, they were prized by impecunious enthusiasts who appreciated their singularly seductive lines and the potency implied by their outside exhaust pipes. Rarely abandoned, they eventually became highly desirable collector cars and earned extensive, thorough, loving restorations and places in the finest garages and collections.

That is what this beautifully restored and preserved 1936 Auburn 852 Supercharged Dual Ratio Speedster represents. It has been in the care of its current owner for some twenty plus years, since the mid-Eighties. Its Antique Automobile Club of America Senior National First Prize badge is dated 1976, from the earliest days of serious car collecting. Finished in bright red with beige leather upholstery, it appears today to be nearly freshly restored, evidencing over a generation of careful preservation and maintenance. Its wide white wall tires ride on body colored steel wheels with hubcaps and trim rings. It is comprehensively equipped including a beige cloth soft top and matching side curtains nestled in the appropriate bag in the tiny trunk next to the matching spare wheel and tire.

The chassis has been restored to accurate, like new, condition at a time when there were plenty of craftsmen around who remembered working on these cars and others like them when they were new. A few mechanical fasteners show a little rust bleed at their joining surfaces and some of the fluid fittings are discolored from minor weeping but overall the impression is of a brand new car that was put away in a thoroughly hermetically sealed vault and only recently exhumed.

A highly desirable icon of Thirties "Machine Age" design and superb restoration, it is ready to reward its next owner with the pride of owning a particularly outstanding example of one of the finest products of Thirties automobile manufacturing in America and the world. Its proportions and forms are remarkably harmonious for a car that was admittedly expedient in its creation, a triumph of design and execution in both its conception and its restoration. It is the real deal, one of the most desirable automobiles of the Thirties.
Keywords: 1936 Auburn 852 Supercharged Dual Ratio Boattail Speedster


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