Lot 165

Arizona 2024

1929 Auburn 8-90 Eight Speedster


$379,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Serial No.
Engine No.
GS 17808
US Title
  • One of the very best examples of the model
  • Formerly owned by Harrah’s Automobile Collection and the Cord Family
  • Award-winning older restoration by RM Auto Restoration
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Certified Category 1 (A-112)

One of the finest and best-known surviving examples of the first-generation Auburn speedster, the 8-90 Eight offered here was sold in Los Angeles in 1950 for $50, as noted by longtime Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club member Bob Graham in the No. 1992 edition of the Club’s Newsletter. In it, the car is pictured at the time still in very complete and intact condition. It is believed that the buyer at that transaction was James Schafer, who worked at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

Mr. Schafer subsequently sold the car in 1960 through the offices of Mike McManus’s Atlantic Auto Wreckers in Gardena, California, a well-known source of great Classics in the early days of the hobby, to the famed Harrah’s Automobile Collection in Reno, Nevada. The Auburn would remain part of the collection for the remainder of its existence, and was pictured in their ownership in Ken Purdy’s Motorcars of the Golden Past and in Dean Batchelor’s Harrah’s Automobile Collection.

As the Harrah’s collection was dissolved, in 1985 the car was sold at one of the landmark auctions to Sally Cord Hummel, the daughter of Auburn Automobile Company owner, E.L. Cord. Mrs. Hummel promptly put the Auburn on display in the ACD Automobile Museum at Auburn, Indiana, where it was exhibited on anonymous loan for the next 14 years. During this time the speedster was inspected by the ACD Club and Certified as a Category 1 Original Car. Interestingly, based upon the “S” denoting its body style on the serial number plate, it was found to have been originally built as a 1928 model, subsequently renumbered by the factory to sell in 1929!

In 1999, the Auburn was purchased by the late award-winning actor, passionate automobile enthusiast, and much-missed friend to many, Edward Herrmann. Mr. Herrmann commissioned RM Auto Restoration to undertake a complete, concours-quality restoration, although the original Harrah’s inventory tag, number 186, was charmingly preserved and is still present today on the firewall. The result, stunning in two subtle shades of green, was presented at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning First in Class, and at that year’s Michigan Grand Classic, being scored at a perfect 100 points.

Mr. Herrmann subsequently sold the Auburn to a fellow collector and friend in Indiana, from whom it was purchased by another noted Midwestern collection of Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs in 2011. It was then acquired by the present owner, himself a dedicated longtime collector of all three marques, in whose ownership its excellent restoration has continued to be well-preserved. Accordingly the car remains in excellent overall condition. It is accompanied by a history file including its Certification paperwork and, significantly, a copy of its Harrah’s research dossier.

Always a complete, intact car back to the early 1950s; having spent time in some of the most distinguished collections, including that of the family of its manufacturer; and wearing an outstanding restoration in very well-chosen livery, this is in the highest rank of surviving early Auburn speedsters. It is an automobile to be held in considerable pride.