The Auburn Auction

Lot 70
1931 Auburn 8-98 Boattail Speedster

Selling on Saturday Evening

1931 Auburn 8-98 Boattail Speedster


• Striking colors and presentation
• High quality restoration
• One of the most enduring designs of the Classic Era

268 cid Lycoming straight eight-cylinder engine, 100 HP at 3,400 RPM, Stromberg updraft carburetor, three-speed manual transmission with Columbia dual-ratio rear axle, four-wheel vacuum-assisted “Steeldraulic” drum brakes, front beam axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, rear live axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs

The Auburn Automobile Company grew out of the Eckhart Carriage Company in Auburn, Indiana. Founded in 1874 by Charles Eckhart, a flourishing carriage business was forged by the time he handed reins over to his sons Frank and Morris. Seeing the writing on the wall for the horse and buggy, the Eckhart brothers went into the car business in 1900. The Speedster, making its debut on the 8-115, was like nothing else at the time. A sharply raked V-type windshield sat atop a long hood and high beltline, ending in a tapered tail. Sitting still, it looked fast. And that was the factory body, not a special one-off from a coachbuilder. All of this, and for only $2,195 when new—in contrast to the nearly $5,000 needed to put a Stutz Black Hawk in your garage. The racy lines and Boattail give the car an aviation look like it’s moving when standing still.

Auburns featured a Lycoming developed eight-cylinder would become the basis for the 1925 Model 8-88. The 276 cubic-inch 60 HP straight eight became the basis for what would form the architecture of every Auburn that followed. With the new, powerful 8-88, Auburn went racing with the goal of beating the popular Stutz on the track. While often coming in second to the “Car that Made Good in a Day”, the Auburn still very much came in first when it came to value, as the list price of an Auburn was less than half that of a Stutz.

In 1928, Auburn replaced the 8-88 with the 8-115. Under the hood was a 299 cubic-inch straight eight that made 115 HP, two more than Stutz's eight-cylinder. The 8-98 featured a more economical 268.6-cid version of the venerable Lycoming straight eight producing 98 horsepower. Cosmetically, even more sleek and sporting bodywork was designed. Underneath its speedy-looking body, the first use of X-bracing on a rear-wheel drive car was featured, along with Bijur lubrications, Lovejoy hydraulic shocks and semi-elliptic suspension all-around. Priced from $945 to $1395, it is little wonder that Fortune magazine went on to call it "the biggest package in the world for the price."

This stunning Auburn Speedster was the recent recipient of a comprehensive body-off restoration. It was built on an original Auburn chassis with a reproduction glass Boattail body fitted from the cowl back. Finished strikingly in regal red, black fenders and a silver belt line, this sporty Speedster is a show-stopper. It features six Buffalo wire wheels with wide whitewalls and chrome knock off bronze caps that are threaded for quick dismount and change. The interior is in the correct pattern with supple red leather interior with a hidden black canvas Haartz cloth top. Very few original speedsters were built, making them an extremely rare sight today. The dramatic design became an icon in automotive art and history. This example is in superb condition throughout and is ready to drive and enjoy.

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