Lot 117

2016   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2016

1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe

Coachwork by LeBaron

SOLD $1,210,000


$1,200,000 - $1,500,000





Car Highlights

Magnificent 16-Cylinder OHV Alloy Engine
One of the Most Revered Marques of the Classic Era
Considered the Most Desirable Body Style and One of Eight Survivors
Outstanding Stone Barn Restoration
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® First in Class Award Winner

Technical Specs

491 CID OHV V-16 Engine
Single 2-Barrel Downdraft Carburetor
200 HP at 3,400 RPM
3-Speed Manual Synchromesh Gearbox
4-Wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
Solid Front and Live Rear Axles with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Register to Bid

Charles W. Bishop, New Haven, Connecticut (acquired circa 1946)Vernon Jarvis, Decatur, Illinois (acquired in 1965)Bernard Miller, Los Angeles, California (acquired in 1968)Laurence Witten, New Haven, Connecticut (acquired in 1972)Sam Bergman (acquired in late 1972)Thomas W. Barrett III, Scottsdale, Arizona (acquired in 1973)Owen Hoyt, San Francisco, California (acquired in 1973)Matt and Barbara Browning, Ogden, Utah (acquired in 1985)Seal Cove Auto Museum, Seal Cove, Maine (acquired in 1990)Philip T. Bray, Grosse Ile, Michigan (acquired in 2001)David Kane, Bernardsville, New Jersey (acquired in 2002)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2002)

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1973Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 1980Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2003 (First in Class)

Howard C. Marmon’s preoccupation with speed garnered notoriety in May 1911 when a Marmon Wasp won the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500. Twenty years later, that focus on speed manifested itself in the introduction of the Indiana firm’s finest offering: the Marmon Sixteen.

Proclaimed as “the world’s most advanced motor car,” this was not just marketing bravado, as the car had the mechanical and aesthetic elements to back it up. The advanced Marmon chassis combined with the finest coachwork produced by LeBaron made for a motoring experience unlike any other, particularly in an open model such as the sporting Convertible Coupe presented here.

Introduced a year after Cadillac’s V-16, the Marmon engine bested its nearest rival in a number of ways. It produced 200 hp to the competition’s 175 hp rating. Torque, at nearly 400 lbs./ft was significantly higher than that of the Cadillac. But power ratings alone were only half of the equation. This prodigious output came from an aluminum-alloy engine that weighed just 930 pounds, providing the Marmon Sixteen with the highest power-to-weight ratio of its time.

Testimony to those impressive figures came in the form of a Stevens Trophy for speed and endurance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October 1931. In fact, every Marmon Sixteen came with a “Speedway Certificate”validating its 100 mph speed in a 210-mile chassis test at that track.

In appearance, too, the Marmon Sixteen was unlike any other. Its clean lines, free of ornamentation, can best be described as Art Deco at its height. The bold grille design composed of horizontal bars makes for a broad-shouldered presence. In profile, the straight beltline is elegant in its simplicity, and the rear-end treatment of the Convertible Coupe is particularly attractive as it tapers gracefully to the bumper. Credit for the design goes to Walter Dorwin Teague Jr., who remarked, “I knew instinctively that the Marmon Sixteen body design was the chance of a lifetime.” Production of his powerful design was entrusted to LeBaron.

Production estimates for the three-year run of all Sixteen body styles range from 365 to 370, with likely fewer than 40 of those in Convertible Coupe form. Just eight examples of this body style survive today.

Thanks to Dyke W. Ridgley and his Marmon Sixteen Roster, the known history of this car has been thoroughly chronicled and begins around 1946, when Charles W. Bishop of New Haven, Connecticut, was its owner. Still in his possession in the summer of 1955, its mileage was noted at 30,000 in an article by the Classic Car Club of America. In January 1965, VernonJarvis of Decatur, Illinois, acquired the car, after which it passed among four owners, finally becoming part of noted San Francisco enthusiast Owen Hoyt’s collection in 1973.

By 1985, the restored Marmon found its way to Ogden, Utah, as part of the famed Matt and Barbara Browning collection. Richard Paine’s Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine acquired the car in a multi-car trade with the Brownings in 1990 and displayed it for more than a decade. During this time, a Marmon Sixteen article characterized the car’s condition with the words: “excellent appearance.” Late in 2002, the car was acquired by the current owner, an esteemed, private West Coast collector, who embarked on a no-expensespared restoration by Stone Barn in Vienna, New Jersey. Engine specialist Chris Leydon was entrusted to rebuild the magnificent V-16 powerplant.

The paint color chosen was a pleasing soft green perfectly complemented by an olive green leather interior. The freshly restored Sixteen made its debut at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it was awarded a First in Class trophy. Since then it has been diligently cared for in one of the premier automobile collections in the country.

The subtle color palette, accented with a tan convertible top, is set off by chrome adorning the grille, wire wheels, and side-mount tire covers. Collectively, its presentation speaks quiet authority over the road. The next owner, when seated behind the wheel, will be presented with six large gauges arranged horizontally across the body-colored dashboard that keep a pulse on all things mechanical while en route. A small plaque centered at the top of the dashboard reminds both driver and passenger of this ultimate mode of transport: Marmon Sixteen.

Offered here is a pristine example of the ultimate Marmon with highly desirable open custom coachwork. With just eight Convertible Coupes in existence today, it is a rare occasion when one becomes available, even more so in light of the superb condition and refined presentation of this universally revered classic.