The Auburn Auction

Lot 71
1948 Playboy A48 Convertible Coupe
OFFERED WITHOUT RESERVE


Selling on Saturday Evening

1948 Playboy A48 Convertible Coupe
Offered from The Roaring Twenties Collection

CHASSIS NO: 2416010

• 1 of only 97 made and under 40 known to exist
• Retractable all-metal top
• Museum piece since the early 1970s
• Purchased directly from Bill Harrah


92 cid Continental flathead inline four-cylinder engine, 50 HP, manual transmission with overdrive gear, folding retractable top, 12-inch rims, curb weight 1,900 pounds; length: 155”, wheelbase: 90”


The Playboy Motor Company was established in 1947 by Lou Horowitz. After World War II, Horowitz, who formerly owned a Packard dealership, wanted to address what he saw as America’s need for a small car…at least smaller than a Packard. With help from his friends, mechanic Norm Richardson and engineer Charlie Thomas, Lou began to develop his new car company with hopes of producing a reliable, efficient car that would only cost around $900. After setting up shop in the old Franklin factory, the men hired several migrant laborers and proceeded to make cars using wooden bucks and hammers to beat panels out of sheet steel. True to Horowitz’s word, the final product only cost $985, roughly $10,000 in today’s dollars.

This Playboy A-48 Coupe, offered from The Roaring Twenties Museum Collection, is one of only around 40 surviving cars. Built with a solid steel removable top, it was one of the cars to feature a fully retractable hardtop after World War II. This all-metal top can be folded up and hidden to transform the Playboy into a roadster. The suspension is uniquely designed with coils set in front of the spring arms, giving the car the ability to roll over potholes instead of bouncing in and out of them. The car is powered by a 50 horsepower Continental motor that gets 40 miles per gallon, possibly even more when using the overdrive gear. Formerly owned by William H. Harrah of Harrah’s Casino in Reno, Nevada, this car was purchased directly from him in 1970. With its vibrant bright red paint, there is no doubt that this car will generate a lot of interest wherever it is shown.

Unfortunately, the late 1940s was not the best time to begin a new car company. With the Tucker crisis in full swing and in the wake of the negative press coverage surrounding it, Mr. Horowitz was ultimately unable to form an adequate dealer network. Lacking subsidy, Playboy was ultimately unable to compete with the better-financed companies who built conventional cars. Quality issues also ensued as the retractable tops of the cars were found to be not watertight. After completing a production run of just under 100 cars, the Playboy Motor Company filed for bankruptcy and became defunct in 1951. With only around 40 Playboys left, this could be the only opportunity to own one of these unique and interesting cars for some years to come.

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