Auburn Automobile

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Auburn Automobile Company
Type Automobile Manufacturing
Industry Automotive
Genre Touring cars
Headquarters Auburn, Indiana, United States
Area served United States
Products Vehicles
Automotive parts

Auburn was a brand name of American automobiles produced from 1900 through 1936.

Corporate history[edit]

The Auburn Automobile Company grew out of the Eckhart Carriage Company, it was founded in Auburn, Indiana, in 1875 by Charles Eckhart (1841–1915). Eckhart's sons, Frank and Morris, began making automobiles on an experimental basis before entering the business in earnest, absorbing two other local carmakers and moving into a larger plant in 1909. The enterprise was modestly successful until materials shortages during World War I forced the plant to close.

In 1919, the Eckhart brothers sold out to a group of Chicago investors headed by Ralph Austin Bard, who later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and as Undersecretary of the Navy for President Roosevelt and for President Harry S. Truman. The new owners revived the business but failed to realize their hoped for profits. In 1924, they approached Errett Lobban Cord (1894–1974), a highly successful automobile salesman, with an offer to run the company. Cord countered with an offer to take over completely in what amounted to a leveraged buyout. The Chicago group accepted. Cord aggressively marketed the company's unsold inventory and completed his buyout before the end of 1925.

But styling and engineering failed to overcome the fact that Cord's vehicles were too expensive for the Depression-era market and Cord's stock manipulations that would force him to give up control of his car companies. Under injunction from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to refrain from further violations, Cord sold his shares in his automobile holding company. In 1937, production of Auburns, along with that of Cords and Duesenbergs, ended.

1936 Auburn 654 Cabriolet.


The 1904 Auburn was a touring car model. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 2 or 4 passengers and sold for US$1000. The flat-mounted single-cylinder engine, situated at the center of the car, produced 10 hp (7.5 kW). A 2-speed planetary transmission was fitted. The angle-steel-framed car weighed 1500 lb (680 kg) and used half-elliptic springs.

In 1926, Cord, now the owner of Auburn, partnered with Duesenberg Corporation, famous for its racing cars, and used it as the launching platform for a line of high-priced luxury vehicles. He also put his own name on a front-wheel-drive car, the Cord, later referred to as "L-29".

Employing imaginative designers such as Alan Leamy (who was chiefly responsible for the 1933 Speedster)[1] and Gordon Buehrig (who modified leftover bodies to produce the 1935 851 Speedster, and facelifted the four-door),[2] Cord built cars that became famous for their advanced engineering as well as their striking appearance, e.g., the Model J Duesenbergs, the 1935–1937 Auburn Speedsters and the 810/812 Cords. The Auburn Boattail Speedster was a car frequently seen in Hollywood and was powered by a 4.6L straight eight that, with the popular supercharger option(150 hp),[3] could top 100 mph.

The Depression, coupled with Cord's stock manipulations, spelled the end of the company. Production ceased in 1937. The company's art deco headquarters in Auburn now houses the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. It was made a National Historic Landmark in 2005. The Auburn Automobile Company also had a manufacturing plant in Connersville, Indiana, that occupied a facility formerly owned by the Lexington Motor Company.

Auburn production specifications[edit]

See also[edit]

1935 Auburn Speedster ad


  1. ^ Buehrig, Gordon M., and Jackson, William S. Rolling Sculpture: A Designer and his Work. (Newfoundland, NJ: Haessner Publishing Inc.), 1975.
  2. ^ Buehrig and Jackson.
  3. ^ "Directory Index: Auburn/1935_Auburn/1935_Auburn_Brochure". Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  • Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly (January 1904)
  • Auburn & Cord by Lee Beck and Josh Malks (1996)
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg by Don Butler (1992)

External links[edit]