2023 |Amelia Island Auctions 2023
1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail SpeedsterRegister to Bid
$800,000 - $1,100,000
A Masterpiece of Art Deco Design by Gordon Buehrig
Known History from 1960
Concours-Level Restoration Commissioned for Marque Expert
2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® Participant
280 CID Lycoming L-Head Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Stromberg EX-32, 1 3/8” Venturi Carburetor
Schwitzer-Cummins Centrifugal Supercharger
150 BHP at 4,400 RPM
3-Speed Manual Gearbox with Columbia 2-Speed Rear End
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Beam Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Please note that a brake fluid leak was detected in the rear wheel cylinders.
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Jean-Pierre Fontana, Mobile, Alabama, and Ronald Capedeponp, Gulfport, Mississippi (acquired in 1960)
R.A. Straker, Zanesville, Ohio (acquired from the above in 1965)
Harry Rinker, Orange, California (acquired from the above in 1969)
Paul Petrovich, Sacramento, California (acquired from the above in 2010)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2016)
Indianapolis AACA National Meet, 1965 (Senior First Place)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2015
Gifted designer Gordon Buehrig delivered a triumphant stylistic update for the 1935 Auburn by utilizing 50 unused bodies-in-white remaining from the 1932–1933 Speedsters and introducing what is now recognized as the “tapertail”. Versions of this design were also used on three Duesenberg speedsters. Buehrig left the existing top, doors, and windshield untouched while integrating the cowl with the new Auburn front-end design. He created a new tail section and added voluptuous pontoon fenders, with spectacular results.
Performance engineering matched the Speedster’s gorgeous lines. Augie Duesenberg and Pearl Watson paired the Schwitzer-Cummins “pancake” centrifugal supercharger to the Lycoming GG-series straight-eight engine, using an innovative planetary-drive system, and the resulting supercharged GH-series engine was rated at a robust 150 hp.
Of the 143 Speedsters built, it is believed that fewer than 50 remain, and finding one that has been certified as having a correct engine, with the original special block and modifications for supercharging performed by the factory, is exceedingly rare. The GH-code supercharged engine upgrade cost an additional $220 from the factory. Additionally, an optional Columbia dual-ratio differential expanded the standard three-speed gearbox to six forward ratios. To demonstrate its performance, famed racer Ab Jenkins drove a stock 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster at an average speed of over 100 mph for a 12-hour period, becoming the first American to do so.
The Speedster on offer, chassis 33151 E, has a known history back to 1960, when it was found stored in a barn in Kaufman, Mississippi, by Ronald Capedeponp. Mr. Capedeponp purchased the Auburn in partnership with Jean-Pierre Fontana of Mobile, Alabama, a friend since their service together in the Korean War. Mr. Fontana attested to the previous owner that the car retains the engine that was in the car when he purchased it.
After their acquisition, the owners recommissioned the Speedster in Mobile, Alabama, and sold it to R.A. Straker of Zanesville, Ohio, in 1965. The Speedster then achieved its Senior First Place status at the AACA National Meet in Indianapolis, in 1965. Noted collector Harry Rinker of Orange, California, bought the Speedster in 1969 from Mr. Straker. When delivered to Mr. Rinker, the car was unloaded by a then-18-year-old Randy Ema, who is now the dean and historian of the ACD Club and remains familiar with this Speedster.
In 2010, Paul Petrovich, a noted Auburn enthusiast and collector, acquired the Speedster from Mr. Rinker and later embarked on a concours-level restoration, adhering to strict ACD Club guidelines. The engine was in proper running order, but Mr. Petrovich elected to perform a full top-end engine rebuild, and a supercharger rebuild by Frank Cek, the technical advisor for the ACD Club.
Countless hours were spent ensuring proper panel fit and the correct finishing of myriad pieces of factory hardware and trim, including Parkerizing the special “W” head bolts to their original flat black charcoal finish. The Speedster was shown just once since its restoration, appearing at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, when it also completed the 80-mile Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance®. Additionally, this Speedster was put through a painstaking three-year process and earned ACD Club certificate A-539 in June 2016. Later that year, the 851 joined the consignor’s impressive collection of Art Deco automotive masterpieces.
Beautifully finished in a rich shade of two-stage Sikkens brand silver paint deepened by black undertones, this Speedster is offset by its black leather interior, black canvas top, concours-quality brightwork, Firestone blackwall tires, and its original Kelsey-Hayes 16" chrome wire wheels. Correctly and impeccably restored, stunning in presentation, and having received the all-important ACD Club certification, this stunning 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster is among the most well-documented and accurately presented examples extant.