Pic-A-Day (979) Albert Mach Fine Art
Some of those compromise programs included creating ¼ scale clay models to see how they looked. The first involved mating the Cord front end to an existing Auburn body, the second involved mating the rear end of the Cord to a conventional Auburn-style front end. As he expected the results were atrocious while the Cord project was put on an extended hiatus he worked on another interim project, The Gentleman’s Speedster.
The Gentleman’s Speedster stemmed from Ames’ desire to use up surplus Lycoming 12-cylinder engines Auburn had in inventory. Buehrig and the rest of Auburn’s styling department worked on the project during the Spring of 1935, creating a quarter-scale clay model which was used as the basis for the full-size prototype which was eventually constructed using a 120” wheelbase 6-cylinder Auburn chassis fitted with a 160-hp 390-cu.in. Lycoming V-12.
The coachwork of the Gentleman’s Speedster used the cowl, windshield and doors of the 1931-1933 Auburn Speedster mated to a bustle-back rear end that included an integral trunk. Although the clay model featured dual side-mounted spares, the prototype’s single spare was mounted at the rear for a more continental appearance. Although the car was equipped with a very attractive one-off mascot it was constructed of mostly off-the-shelf A-C-D components such as low-mounted Auburn Model 851/852 headlamps, an Auburn 851/852 radiator shell, slightly modified Cord 810/812 fenders, Cord 810/812 bumpers and a hood constructed using parts taken from a Duesenberg Model J.
In a letter published in the May 1957 issue of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club newsletter, Buehrig mentioned the Gentleman’s Speedster:
"In 1934 Mr. Ames who was executive vice-president of Auburn came up with an idea for a car he called a Gentleman’s Speedster. The Auburn 12 had gone out of production and the company had a few hundred 12 cylinder engines beyond their normal service requirements. Mr. Ames' idea was to design a car on the Auburn 6, chassis and equip it with the 12 cylinder engine.
"This was a wonderful idea and it is too bad the car never went into production because it would probably be a classic car today. We designed the car and built a ¼ scale model. It looked like a kingsize MG-TD roadster. The instrument group looked like, a panel from an airplane. We built an actual prototype. I remember driving it from Auburn to Connersville and it was very fast. As I recall the experience, I don't believe all the handling characteristics were real good as there had been no development work done on springs, shock absorbers, etc."
Once the car had served its purpose it was sold, presumably through the Cord-controlled Los Angeles distributor, to former child star John Leslie ‘Jackie’ Coogan Jr. (b. 1914 - d. 1984), who used it as his daily driver while he was courting Betty Grable, whom he married in 1937 - yes, after breaking up with Toby Wing (another Hollywood beauty) TV’s Uncle Fester went on to marry Betty Grable!
Although technically an Auburn prototype, many continue to identify it as a Duesenberg prototype, although no badging is present. The car survives and was recently exhibited at the 2011 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance and 2012 Elegance at Hershey. It currently resides in the collection of the William E. Swigart Jr. Automobile Museum in Huntingdon, Pa
You can enjoy seeing this in person at the William E. Swigart, Jr. Automobile Museum
This year’s Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance was wonderful, full of amazing vehicles.
You have to come and see it to believe it next year in 2018!
Don’t miss one of the most fabulous events of the year held on the second weekend in March.
Link to information here:
Next years Elegance will be held June 8, 2018 at the fabulous Hotel Hershey.
Don’t miss it!