Offered from Masterworks of Design
$313,000 USD | Sold
| Monterey, California
- The first production sedan built on this pioneering front-wheel-drive chassis
- Originally delivered with Joseph Urban’s multi-band color scheme
- Well-known for its longtime ownership by Doug Shinstine
- Described in Jim Fasnacht’s The Ruxton Automobile: History and Authenticity Guide
William J. Muller designed a front-wheel-drive automobile for his employer, the Budd Company of Philadelphia, which intended to sell the design to a manufacturer for whom they could then provide bodies. Archie M. Andrews, a rather infamous early corporate raider of the automobile industry and Budd’s largest shareholder, finagled his way into possession of the prototypes and tooling, and began production under the auspices of New Era Motors. The low-slung car, powered by a Continental L-head engine, was dubbed the Ruxton. About 96 were built before the firm fell apart amidst bankruptcy proceedings in 1930. Today the Ruxton is remembered as the first true production front-wheel-drive car built by an American automaker.
The car offered here is one of 19 surviving intact Ruxtons and is among the better known of this rare Full Classic marque. Believed to have been the first production sedan, enthusiasts and historians have cited this car as the example used heavily in early photo appearances and shows. It was also the first Ruxton to feature the famed multi-band “rainbow” paint scheme, developed by the Broadway set designer Joseph Urban, which used horizontal stripes of graduating colors to visually lengthen and lower the automobile—and to draw considerable attention on show stands. Its detailed construction and history are both recounted in historian Jim Fasnacht’s exhaustively researched book, The Ruxton Automobile: History and Authenticity Guide.
The sedan was restored in the late 1970s by longtime owner Doug Shinstine of Washington State, with a few tweaks to its color scheme and to the design of the hood, new blue cloth upholstery, and fitment of the Woodlite headlamps popular on Ruxtons. Importantly, it retains all of its important hard-to-find parts; it should be noted that the car received a correct replacement motor, most likely during its restoration, but this is less meaningful for a Ruxton than with other marques as there is no correlation between chassis and motor numbers.
In this form it won its class at the 1980 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Mr. Shinstine is believed to have retained the sedan until the early 1990s, when it was acquired for the present collection. The restoration exhibits some wear to the paint, especially minor areas of loss and checking around shut lines of the hood and the edges of the doors, while the interior has largely held up well over the years. Underneath the car, the undercarriage is clean and tidy, exhibiting more age than use, as does the engine compartment.
One of extremely few Ruxtons available at any price, this car is a fascinating survivor of a bold experiment with a terrific story—and among the most eye-catching vehicles of its era.