Auburn Twelve Custom Phaeton Sedan
But for Erret Lobban Cord, Auburn might have remained an unremarkable automobile. Cord, top salesman for Moon in Chicago, took the job of General Manager at Auburn in 1923 with the proviso that if sales improved sufficiently he could buy into the firm. He spruced up the accumulated inventory of unsold cars with bright paint jobs and nickel trim and quickly sold them all. By 1926, Cord was president of the company and held a controlling interest. He readied new models and positioned Auburn as a performance car at a low price.
By 1931, new Alan Leamy-designed eight-cylinder cars were selling for $945 to $1,395, an unheard of bargain. The cars were attractive, taking design cues from Cord’s long, low Cord L-29, and sales increased, even in the face of the deepening Depression.
For 1932, Cord and his Auburn team came up with another bombshell, a V12. Designed by Auburn’s chief engineer George Kublin, it utilized a narrow, 45-degree vee and an unusual combustion chamber set at an angle to the cylinders. The valves were in the heads but horizontal, operated by a single camshaft through rockers. It developed 160 bhp from 391 cubic inches, more efficient than either Packard or Lincoln, and was priced as low as $1,105. The same year, a Columbia two-speed rear axle became available, enabling a choice of drive ratios, effectively six speeds ahead.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.
160 bhp, 391.6 cu. in. horizontal valve V12 engine with three-speed manual transmission and Columbia electric overdrive, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 133"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel