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1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 SC

As one of the few prewar American sportcars, the Auburn Speedster was a powerful, affordable and stylish car. It featured a characteristic boat tail body and a supercharged engine that that set American trends: large proportions and straight line performance.

In 1932, a stock supercharged speedster driven by Ab Jenkins at the Bonneville Salt Flats and was clocked at 100 mph through the flying mile. Auburn were particularly pleased with these results and plaqued subsequent cars with a memo on the dashboard.

Produced from 1929 to 1937, the Speedster benefited from E.L. Cord’s empire which included many talented designers from Cord, Duesenbreg and Lycoming. As different engines became available, the Speester was manufactured in three distinct phases. The last of these was the 851/852 Speedster which benefited from styling upgrades and a reworked Inline-8 engine.

Up until 1935, many of Auburn’s models were powered by Lycoming’s V12 engine, which could be sold at a very affordable rate. Unfortunately, as this engine became unavailable, Auburn were left to rethink their straight-6, and Duesenberg helped them retool to include two more cylinders.

While changing engines, Harold Ames hired Gordon Buehrig of ex-Duesenberg fame to touch up the Speedster design. Buehrig reduced the ornamentation on the car, and added a more flowing touch, especially with his recessed radiator.

Of the four decades of Auburn production, the companies’ history can be highlighted by the 851 and 852 Speedsters. These were the last few cars made by Auburn before the factory shut down in October of 1937 along with the rest of the Cord Empire.

Story by Richard Owen for

In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
price $ $2 245 USD
engine Water Cooled, Inline-8
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Schweitzer-Cummins Supercharger
valvetrain 2 Valves per Cyl
displacement 4589 cc / 280.0 in³
bore 77.78 mm / 3.06 in
stroke 120.6 mm / 4.75 in
compression 6.5:1
power 111.9 kw / 150.1 bhp @ 4000 rpm
specific output 32.71 bhp per litre
bhp/weight bhp per tonne
torque 311.8 nm / 230.0 ft lbs @ 2750 rpm
body / frame Steel Body on Steel Cross-Braced Chassis
driven wheels RWD
front tires 6.5×15
rear tires 6.5×15
front brakes Lockheed Drums w/Hydraulic Assist
f brake size mm / in
rear brakes Lockheed Drums w/Hydraulic Assist
r brake size mm / in
steering Worm & Peg
f suspension Non-Independant w/ Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Hydraulic Dampers
r suspension Live Axle w/ Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Hydraulic Dampers
curb weight 1699 kg / 3746 lbs
wheelbase 3226 mm / 127.0 in
front track 1488 mm / 58.6 in
rear track 1575 mm / 62.0 in
length 4938 mm / 194.4 in
width 1816 mm / 71.5 in
height 1473 mm / 58.0 in
transmission 3-Speed Manual
gear ratios 2.86:1, 1.68:1, 1.00:1, :1
final drive 3.1:1
top speed ~167.4 kph / 104.0 mph
0 – 60 mph ~15.0 seconds
0 – 1/4 mile ~19.5 seconds

Auction Sales History

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster 33222E – sold for $770,000 Owned by radio personality Charles “Chuck” Arlington. One of four Auburn Speedsters restored to identical specification for Arlington. Treated to a RM Auto Restoration in 2008.
Auction Source: RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015
1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn Model 851 Custom Phaeton 2505H – sold for $192,500 High quality older restoration. Versatile touring body style. A CCCA Full Classic™. Offered from long term private ownership. Featuring Dual-Ratio Differential.
Auction Source: The Amelia Island Auction 2015 by Bonhams
1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster 33811E – sold for $517,000 Ex-Luigi Chinetti and Rosso Bianco Museum. Recent, extensive, ground-up restoration. Iconic and rare American performance car of the Classic Era.
Auction Source: 2013 Arizona Auction by RM

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn Model 851 Supercharged Speedster 33151E

The current owner purchased this Auburn speedster from R.A. Straker of Zanesville, Ohio in 1969. It has been in the same collection ever since. Straker had bought it a few years earlier from Pierre Fontana, another Ohio collector. At the time, it was missing three fenders and one door. As a matter of expediency, Fontana restored it with fiberglass replacement parts, the way the car is presented today. The car is known to have matching chassis, engine and supercharger numbers. Complete with California black plates from the time of the vendor’s early ownership, this is an exceptional Auburn speedster.

Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster

Restored in archetypal red by Coronal SA of Montevideo, Uruguay, this Supercharged 851 speedster has a beige leather interior and brown cockpit carpet. It is clean throughout and presents very well, with good gloss to the paintwork and excellent brightwork. For the last 20 years, the car has been on display at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, Germany, a showcase of air and land transport technology. It has since been recommissioned by the vendor.

Auction Source: 2010 Automobiles of London by RM Auctions

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Boattail Speedster Supercharged

While most Auburn Boattail Speedsters have lived quiet lives of privacy and privilege, this regal example was pushed into the spotlight at the tender age of one year, when it played a central role in the 1936 romantic comedy hit “Desire”, starring Gary Cooper and Marlene Dietrich.
Auction Source: 2010 Mecum Kissimmee, FL Auction
1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851 SC Speedster

This remarkable 1935 Auburn 851SC Boattail Speedster is a well-known example within the ACD Club. The ninth speedster built, it was the Chicago Auto Salon show car. Following the show it was sold to a Chicago area man as a new car. He sold it in the early 1950s to a man named Maisnick from Oak Lawn, IL. In 1953, while Maisnick owned the car it was lightly damaged in a garage fire – another car caught fire, but the owner was able to save the speedster and two other cars by pulling them out of the garage.

Auction Source: 2009 Meadow Brook Concours

1935 Auburn 851 SC

1935 Auburn 851SC Boattail Speedster

Today the car remains in show quality condition, showing little or no evidence of aging since completion, a testimonial to both the quality of the restoration and the conditions under which the car has been kept. Paint, chrome and upholstery are near perfect, and the engine bay and chassis detailing is exemplary. The restoration of the Auburn, which took place over a two-year period, cost in excess of $180,000, a substantial amount at the time. Accordingly, the Speedster must be seen to truly appreciate the quality and correctness of it in its presentation and overall condition.

Auction Source: 2009 Automobiles of Amelia Island RM Auction