Tag Archives: Auburn
By the time these photos were taken (we’re guessing it was around 1929 or 1930) the Indiana upstart, Auburn, had already been building quality cars for more than 25 years. Here they have invaded Michigan and these reputable looking gentlemen are hawking their two lines of cars right in the “Big Three’s” backyard, Detroit. Aside from selling Auburns and Cords, the sign in the window on the right announces some “Good Used Cars Cheap : Hudson Sedan, $225, Chandler Coach, $150, Dodge Sedan, $125, Cadillac 4-Passenger Coupe, $100. All cars with license.” But it’s kind of hard for us to know just how good a deal these really were, since they conveniently neglected to mention the model year of each of these potential bargains.
But the big news there had to be their revolutionary Cord L-29. Introduced in 1929, the drivetrain was largely the brainchild of Auburn chief engineer C.W. Van Ranst who brought his not inconsiderable talents to the table. He had previously worked with Arthur Chevrolet on the design of the Frontenac overhead valve conversion for the Ford Model “T”, and raced with the likes of Tommy Milton, among other things. Above you can see a clear image of the entire drivetrain from the June 19, 1929 issue of Automotive Industries. We also found the thumbnails (below) showing a different angle on the engine and transaxle (left) and it’s intricate inner workings (right) in the same issue. The center image shows what we think might be an L-29 prototype based on the axle’s placement in front of the differential cover and what appears to be an Indiana manufacturer’s license plate.
Al Leamy gets the credit for the graceful sweeping lines of the low slung body, made possible by the compact front wheel drive configuration. It created a sensation both here and abroad, eventually receiving 39 awards at 23 Concours events in Europe. At the time, ground breaking architect Frank Lloyd Wright remarked, “it looks becoming to the houses I design!”
By Gene Herman:
While the Auburn 852 Speedsters have achieved iconic status amongst classic car enthusiasts, their less flashy brothers are seldom seen on showfields today. In 1935 and ’36, this Indiana based manufacturer produced a full line of cars in six, eight and supercharged eight cylinder guise.
Seen above is a 1934 factory publicity photo of their handsome 1935 Phaeton. Although it shared the rakish good looks of the Speedster, this four door five-seater was meant to appeal to the buyer looking for a more practical car. But even offering four other distinctive body styles (a coupe, a brougham, a cabriolet and a four door sedan) could not this save this pioneer builder of quality automobiles from the ravages of the Great Depression. Although a 1937 product line was announced, the company closed it’s doors forever that same year before any were produced.
Seen below is a video of an all-too-short period promotional film showing the sedan, the coupe and the Speedster in their natural habitat.
You can see many more posts and photos about Auburns here on The Old Motor (scroll down) and to learn more you can also visit the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club. Photo courtesy of the Donald Ellis Collection.
After the previous post covering Alan H. Leamy and his L-29 Cord patent drawing and the design renderings, we were curious to see if we could find any more of patents that he had applied for. Four more drawings were found, three of which are also of the L-29 and one of an Auburn sedan, that is dated as being granted on Nov. 10, 1931. This drawing appears to be of a 1931-32 Auburn.
Leamy who lived in Auburn, Indiana, at the time, stated in his patent application for the L-29 design the following: I have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for an Automobile, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, forming a part thereof. The figure is a perspective view of an automobile showing my new design. I claim:— The ornamental design for an automobile substantially as shown. Alan H. Leamy.
The Cord drawings are quite interesting especially the overhead view at the top, which shows not only his styling design work, but also the front suspension design very much like a FWD Miller racing car. The L-29 mechanical design was done by C. W. Ranst a former Miller engineer and racer, who was at the forefront of many new racing designs in the period of the late teens through the early thirties. Just below can be seen Leon Duray in his FWD Miller at Indianapolis and if you study the front end construction you can see just how similar they are. Check back to a post here on The Old Motor with more photos and information about about the famous racing driver Duray, including him setting a speed of 147 mph at the Packard Proving grounds with this fwd Miller in 1928.