Arizona

Arizona Biltmore
16 - 17 January 2014
Lot 48

1932 Auburn Twelve Custom Phaeton

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$250,000 - $300,000 USD | Not Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona

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Chassis No.
2572 H
  • Auburn’s most desirable model
  • Restored with desirable Salon trim
  • Shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
  • An outstanding choice for ACD Club and CCCA activities
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Model 12-160A. 160 hp, 391 cu. in. L-head V-12 engine, twin carburetors, three-speed manual transmission with two-speed Columbia electric overdrive, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 136 in.

Addendum: Please note the title is in transit.

E.L. Cord was one to look the Great Depression in the face and smile. For 1932, his team at Auburn Automobile Company launched a bombshell in the luxury car market: a V-12 that would compete head-on with the offerings from Lincoln, Pierce-Arrow, and Cadillac.

It was designed by chief engineer George Kublin, and it utilized a narrow 45-degree “vee” and an unusual combustion chamber, which was set on an angle to the cylinders. The valves were in the heads, but they were horizontal, and they were operated by a single camshaft through the rockers. This engine could produce 160 horsepower from 391 cubic inches, and it was smaller than its competitors, but no less powerful. Auburn’s famous Dual-Ratio rear axle, which was standard on Custom models, allowed the car to be driven in either high gear ratios, for open country roads, or in a lower ratio, for city driving. The excellent engineering was wrapped in the timeless Alan Leamy styling that made Auburns of this era some of the most beautiful of all Classics.

The new model could even run like the wind. Running in a Speedster model at Muroc Dry Lake, Eddie Miller broke 31 American speed records from flying starts and nine international records from standing starts.

All of this made the Auburn Twelve one of the finest American performance cars of its era, and its barely three years of production, from 1932 to 1934, also made it one of the scarcest. Ironically, one of its claims to fame worked against it; it was the first 12-cylinder car to have a starting price under $1,000. Buyers wrongly assumed that such a low-priced V-12 could not be worth anything. How wrong they were, as modern enthusiasts have discovered. In fact, Auburn was just doing what Auburn had always done, offering its buyers a great bargain for the money.

The four-door convertible Phaeton offered here was formerly owned by well-known collector Larry Dorcy, and during his ownership, it was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2009. The car was restored several years ago in an attractive two-tone blue, using shades similar to the factory-correct Auburn Blue, and the paint is complemented by a matching leather interior, a canvas top, and blue Wilton wool carpets. Overall, the effect is quite striking, and it looks absolutely spectacular in the sunlight.

During restoration, the car was subtly upgraded with much of the desirable Salon model trim, including chrome inserts below the windows, Salon door handles, and polished stainless trim on the hood louvers. As a Custom model, it boasts chromed headlamps, headlights, and wire wheels with covered side-mounts. The engine was fully rebuilt during the restoration, for improved long-distance touring capabilities, and an American-LaFrance V-12 engine block, which is stronger and more durable than the original Auburn unit, was also installed.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club members treasure the surviving Auburn Twelves for their excellent performance and show-stopping style, and any example that comes to market is fiercely desired. This Phaeton would be an outstanding choice for shows and club activities, and it will provide instant bragging rights to its new owner, especially in the ACD Club’s Year of the Leamy Design in 2014.