Lot 177

1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Sedan by LeBaron

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$330,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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language
Serial No.
16-145-678
Engine No.
16-695
Body No.
519
Documents
US Title
  • Offered from more than 30 years of enthusiast ownership
  • Original body and engine; recently fitted with new cylinder heads and clutch
  • Very well-sorted example for driving enjoyment
  • Documented in Dyke W. Ridgley’s Marmon Sixteen Roster
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

Like all great pieces of art, the Marmon Sixteen was one man’s vision of perfection. Automobile pioneer Colonel Howard Marmon created a triumph of pattern-making and foundry technology, containing at its heart an all-aluminum V-16 engine on a state-of-the-art chassis. With 200 horsepower from over 490 cubic inches of displacement, the car was capable of out-accelerating a Duesenberg Model J—yet at only one-third the cost, making it as much of a performance bargain as a $5,000 automobile could be.

Walter Dorwin Teague Jr., an MIT student working for his father’s industrial design firm, dressed the Sixteen in crisp lines devoid of gratuitous ornamentation and characterized by clean shapes embodying the lean sporty aesthetic of the age. A design with such superb styling and world-class engineering comingling in harmonious balance has seldom been seen before or since. Like a fine Swiss watch or the best mahogany speedboat, it whispered quietly but firmly of its owner’s wealth and exquisite taste.

Only 75 examples of the Marmon Sixteen remain in existence. They stand as a definitive statement of engineering and performance from the Classic Era and as among the finest driving automobiles of the decade.

The Sixteen convertible sedan offered here has had its ownership history traced by historian Dyke W. Ridgley back to the late 1950s, when it was in the care of someone by the name of Ballard. This owner sold the car in 1962 to longtime CCCA member, Robert “Bob” Mellin of Richmond, Michigan. Mr. Mellin apparently intended to move the Marmon’s body to another chassis, but this never occurred and, prior to 1974, the car passed into the ownership of another collector in Michigan. Shortly thereafter it was acquired by the prolific Oklahoma collector, restorer, and auctioneer, James Leake, and resided in Mr. Leake’s collection for several years.

The car was then acquired by Sam Vaughan, an oil and natural gas magnate in the small Texas town of Uncertain, who was building a large collection of vintage automobiles held by his business as an investment. Following Mr. Vaughan’s passing in 1989, the car was sold the following year and acquired by the current owner, an avid Marmon enthusiast who has now maintained it for over 30 years. It has been extremely well cared for, occasionally appearing at events such as the Marmon Muster, where it was awarded the President’s Trophy in 1991 and the People’s Choice Award in 1992.

Subsequently, the body and chassis were fully restored in 1995–1996 by Stan Uher of Classic Coachworks in Blenheim, Ontario, and the engine fully rebuilt by John Forsythe in Fremont, Ohio, with new cylinder sleeves, sealing rings, and machined pistons. A “new old-stock” oil pump was also installed, the engine block cleaned and internally ceramic-coated, the main bearing and connecting-rod bearings rebabbited and machined to proper crank dimensions, and the crankshaft polished.

More recently kept as an excellent driver, it remains in very attractive overall condition, and has been recently fitted with new cylinder heads—an important note on any Marmon Sixteen—and a new clutch.

Ideal for local showing or as an excellent tour and CARavan automobile, this is an especially handsome and appealing Marmon, benefitting from loving, long-term care.