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Lot 302: Auburn 851 Phaeton

Automobiles of Amelia Island, RM Auctions (14 March 2009)

115hp at 3,600rpm, 279.9 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission with dual ratio rear end, front and rear semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel Bendix hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127"

By 1934, E.L. Cord had resigned from the presidency of the Auburn Automobile Company for the final time, while a succession of Cord Corporation executives came and went. Incredibly, despite management turmoil and dire economic conditions, Auburn steadfastly continued to improve its fine automobiles.

For 1934, the relatively small Auburn company committed a sizable block of its capital to new tooling for a new line of modern, all-steel bodies. This investment in technology promised important cost savings, and although sales increased by 50 percent over the previous year's levels, the company's financial results did not improve. Senior management found a convenient scapegoat in Auburn stylist Al Leamy, who was replaced by a young Gordon Buehrig. With a small budget and precious little time, Buehrig retained the fine basic design of Leamy, concentrating on the grille, hood, and front fenders. The resulting Auburn models for 1935 were very well received, and today remain among the most desirable and sought-after pre-war American cars.

The beautiful, aerodynamic 1935 Auburn Model 851 Phaeton Sedan offered here was formerly the property of noted Michigan collector Richard Kughn, who acquired it in 1974 from Elwood Griest of Livermore, California. In 1977 Mr. Kughn commissioned a frame-off, no-expense-spared restoration of the car that rendered it a show-quality automobile through and through. After completion, it amassed a long list of awards, including National First Senior status from the Classic Car Club of America and Level One Certification by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club (1989), attesting to its authenticity and correctness throughout.

A favorite of the Carail collection, the Kughns toured and showed the car extensively and it was the subject of original artwork commissioned by the Kughns. Following the closing of the Carail Musuem the car was acquired in 2003 by the current owner. Since then, the Auburn has been well maintained and used regularly for family touring throughout New England. Strikingly finished in Glacier White with a black leather interior, it continues to present very well and is complete with whitewall tires and dual sidemount spares with proper metal wheel covers. The car will be sold with a substantial file documenting Mr. Kughn's restoration and the Auburn's show history. Fully sorted and reliable, it will certainly remain a welcome entrant at events nationwide and is sure to make a very comfortable touring vehicle by virtue of its Phaeton body style.

Lot Details
Auction Automobiles of Amelia Island
RM Auctions, The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida
TypeCar
Lot Number302
Estimate$75000-$100000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$45000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1935
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number1148H
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors