Auburn 851 Speedsters did not just look fast, they were fast. To prove this, famed speed-demon and race driver Ab Jenkins sat behind the wheel of an 851 Speedster and was the first American to set a 100 mph average for a 12- hour period endurance record in a completely stock 851 Speedster. As a result, each Speedster built carried a dash plaque attesting to it's over 100 mph capability, bearing Ab Jenkins signature.
Union City Body Company is credited with building all of the bodies for 8 different versions of the 1931-33 Auburn Boattail Speedster. The 100 standard, 100A Custom, 105 Salon, 12- Series, 12- 60 standard, 12-160A Custom, 161 Standard, 165 Salon. Union City also supplied Auburn with 100 bodies for the 1935- 851 Boattail Speedster.
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Union City 1935 851 Boattail Speedster # U47
12-165 Salon Boattail Speedster
12-160 Series Boattail Speedster
8-100 Boattail Speedster
12-161A boattail Speedster
8-100A Boattail Speedster
12-160A Boattail Speedster
The 851 Speedster body consisted of 22 sections, which had to be hand joined and fitted. The finish took hours of body shaping, using an English wheel and a bead roller. Deep draw metal stamping was in it's infancy at that time and to craft a pontoon fender of this size would take several sections of hammered and shaped panels pieced together.The Auburn presented below is one such hand crafted Union City bodied car. Although it started life as a 1935- 851 Speedster, it went unsold, and as commonplace, was rebadged for 1936 as an 852 Speedster. The first 100 Gordon Buehrig designed 851's carried Union City Coachwork from revamped 1933 leftover bodies. Bodies were always painted in primecoat and upholstery protected with a muslin cover. Speedsters were ordered in batches of 50, first year of 50 with a Straight 8 Lycoming Engine - 851''.
The early examples of the 851 Speedster were different from the cars that followed. The first 12 to 15 cars share certain early features, which gradually disappeared until the 15th or 16th cars.
Vanity photo of a Chauffer driven Auburn Boattail Speedster in the dead of winter.
Extremely Rare, We only built three of these, two in Jan. and one in April of 1933. This being the second built in January.
Nice view of the golf club baggage compartment.
The Auburn 851/852 Boattail Speedster is easily recognizable and unlike anything else.
( A - Custom )
This 1935 - 851 Union City built Auburn Boattail Speedster recently sold at Auction for $445,500. With 68,000 original miles, V-12 motor 320 + hp. Supercharger, and a speedometer that goes to 160 mph.
Union City 1936 - 852 Boattail Speedster
1. Lower rear exhaust manifold ports, 2. enclosed fender shields, 3. brown steering wheel, 4. dash trim panels carried over from 1934 and sedan style door handles.
Designer Alan H. Leamy created some of the most memorable designs of the late 20's and early 30's. In addition to his work for the Cord L-29 and 31-34 Auburn Speedsters, he also is credited with some styling of the Duesenberg J.
In 1932, only 84 Auburn Speedsters were produced with the straight eight lycoming engine. V-12's were installed for the remainder of 32 and all of 1933. Union City had to modify the leftover 1933 bodies for the upcoming 1935 model year. With less modifications, several Speedsters were left with the V-12 motor and sold as 851's. The 1934 model Speedster was not well-received at the New York Auto Dealer Showing, Designer Alan Leamy had stayed with the same design for too many years. Carmakers were designing away from the 13'' bucket headlight, Model-T look. Leamy was let go and Designer Gordon Buehrig was brought in for a re-design. Buehrig went with a more streamline front end, by adding a slant covered radiator. He removed the running boards, added a few more panels to the fenders and tail, and went with the bullet style headlights. In order to qualify for any AMA ( Automobile Manufactures Association ) Sanctioned Auto Show , Carmakers had to have 100 examples already built for the model year. Without many changes, Auburn was able to prepare the Speedsters for the 1935 Show. Only 147 Speedsters were built for the 1935-36 model year, between 500-600 built for all three generations. By 1937, the Depression had taken it's toll on the remainder of Cords Automotive Empire, and all production ceased for Auburn and Cord.
(Recently sold at Auction for 1,210,000)
1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster
Union City and Auburn factory built Boattail Speedsters will always have their Supercharger pipes on the Drivers side of the automobile. Other builders reproducing them, will most often have them on both sides. According to Copy laws a replica must be a certain percentage different than an original, so most will opt for the supercharger pipes on both sides of the car.
AMERICA'S first SPORTS CAR
Union City built Auburn Speedster at the Muroc dry lake run in the Mojave desert. This Speedster was powered by the new 160 h.p. V-12 Lycoming engine."Automotive Industries" reported in it's Jan.1932 issue that new speed records were set at distances from one mile to 500 miles. The mile run set a new 100.77 mph mark, and the 500 mile distance was covered at an average speed of 88.95 mph.
Actress Jean Harlow with Auburn Boattail Speedster. Photo taken at the July, 1933 National Air Races.