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A Closer Look at the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster

1935 Auburn 851 Speedster

One of the most iconic supercars in the history of automobile design and manufacturing is the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster. We recently came across one of these rare collectibles going up for auction at the 15th annual RM Sotheby's Hershey sale at the Hershey Lodge in Pennsylvania. News of such a rare vehicle piques the interest of rare automobile collectors from around the world. The rare beauty has a rich history and it also has a distinct place in history books as one of the most innovative and advanced vehicles in the world during its era. To fully appreciate its value, one must have a basic knowledge of the history of the brand and the historical importance of the model.

History of the Auburn Speedster

Wikipedia confirmed that the designer of the Auburn 851 Speedster, produced in 1935, was a gentleman named Gordon Buehrig. The Speedster is one of the most iconic vehicles in American history. The model was put together at the Auburn Automobile Company, headquartered in Auburn, Indiana. Completion took place at the Connorsville plant. The Auburn Automobile company was bought by Errett Lobban Cord, who hired James Crawford to design and develop a new vehicle range. The first Auburn eight-car was produced in 1925 and titled the Auburn Eight Inline. The engine of the Auburn Eight saw an upgrade of 4.8-liters engines that produced 68 BPH through 1930 when the company developed the first 115 bhp engine, dubbing it the Speedster.

The automaker continued to evolve its line and in 1935, The Speedster 851 which would become the final production model of the Indiana automaker was introduced. The first vehicle designed by Gordon Buehrig featured a bespoke flat-head eight engine that was reliable for its day. It was easily the most beautiful automobile on the road, and among the fastest with a 3-speed gearbox with a dual ratio ale that made it a six-speed transmission. The Auburn 851 Speedster was produced from 1934 through 1937 when the Auburn car produced its final vehicle and closed its doors forever. The 1934 vehicle was marketed as a 1935 model year with a 4.5-liter straight-eight engine, supercharged.

A rare car worth nearly $1 million

The Robb Report, highlighted an example of the iconic 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster that became available t the RM Sotheby's Hershey sale. It's scheduled to of on the auction block at the event to be held through October 7 -8. It's an A-list automobile from the pre-war era from one of the most distinguished automakers from the 1920s and 1930s. The brand competed with the likes of Cord and Duesenberg. Auburn vehicles were known to be among the most expensive, luxurious, and breathtakingly beautiful vehicles of their time. It was a progressive design that occupies an essential niche in American automotive history.

Other facts about the Auburn 851 Speedster

The 851 Speedster featured a design called boattail styling, which was the rave in the 1930s. The engine generated 150 horsepower which allowed it to reach a top speed of up to 100 miles per hour. The 851 Speedster was the first American production car o ever reach this speed and to hold it steadily for 12 hours. The Auburn Automobile plant only produced 150 of these vehicles from 1935 through 1936, making them all rare collectibles, if you can find one. The example set for auction is offered from the Robert Thayer collection, bearing the distinction of Best in Class from the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2011. The estimated value of this car at auction is set at $900,000.

Other examples

Supercars, offers a look at a few of the other Auburn 851 Speedsters and their value at auction. Although there is a finite supply, there has been a lot of activity involving the 1935 Auburn 851 over the past decade. Quite a few collectors were either working on restoration projects or offering their examples up for auction. When we look at the most current information about the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedsters and similar models from the era, we see a range of values from over the past decade. Chuck Arlington's 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster was restored in 2008, as one of four the collector had restored. He offered it at an RM Sotheby's Monterey auction in 2015, selling the car for $770,000. Chances are the same vehicle would have a higher valuation in today's collectibles market.

A 1935 Model 851 Custom Phaeton 2505H was sold by Bonhams at The Amelia Island Auction in 2015 for $192,500. Before that, a 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster was auctioned in 2013 at an Arizona Auction by RM Sotheby. The example ended up selling for $517,000. A 1935 Auburn 851SC Boattail Speedster took over two years to complete the restoration process. The total cost of the restoration exceeded $180,000. It's expensive to bring these iconic vehicles back to their original glory, and collectors are willing to go the extra mile to own a mint condition version of what was once the fastest car in America.

Final thoughts

It's always a pleasure to learn more about the iconic vehicles that inspired the modern inventions we enjoy today. The Auburn Automobile Company produced some of the most innovative and technologically advanced automobiles from the 1930s era. Its most iconic model was the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster. Most collectors do not need an education about the significance of this vehicle. Examples offered in pristine condition bear estimates of an auction value of $900,000, but we'll soon learn what value collectors are willing to place on this exquisite example. The thing about antique collectible cars is that their value amounts to the price a collector is willing to pay for them. Perhaps the auction slated to take place in a week will go beyond the current estimates, or it may fall short, depending on who shows interest and places their bids.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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