Lot 137

2016   |   Pebble Beach Auctions 2016

1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster

SOLD $990,000


$900,000 - $1,200,000


33151 E



Car Highlights

Breathtaking Design and Exceedingly Rare Art Deco Masterpiece
Known History from 1960
Recent and Complete Concours-Level Restoration
2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® Participant
ACD Level-One Certified

Technical Specs

280 CID Lycoming L-Head Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Stromberg EX-32 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
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Register to Bid

2015 Concours Restoration I One of the Finest Examples in ExistenceJean-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)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2010)

AACA National Meet, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1967 (Senior First Place)Niello Concours at Serrano, El Dorado Hills, California, Fall 2010 (First in Class, Preservation)Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, August 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,” which was 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, along with numerous engine-block modifications, and the resulting supercharged GH-series engine was rated at a robust 150 bhp.

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 engine modifications for supercharging performed by the factory, is extremely rare. The GH 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 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 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. In a recent phone conversation with the consignor, Mr. Fontana attested that the Speedster retains the engine that was in it when he purchased it.

After their acquisition, the owners recommissioned the Speedster in Mobile, and sold it to R.A. Straker of Zanesville, Ohio, in 1965. The Speedster then achieved its Senior First Place status at the National AACA Meet in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1967, as reflected by a dashboard plaque that comes with the car. 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 a historian for the ACD Club and remains familiar with the Speedster.

The consignor, a noted Auburn enthusiast and collector, acquired the Speedster from Mr. Rinker in 2010, and later embarked on a concours-level restoration. It was restored in accordance with strict ACD Club guidelines. The engine was in proper running order, but the consignor elected to perform a full top end engine rebuild, and a full supercharger rebuild by Frank Cek, the technical advisor for the ACD Club. It was then that the proper block, camshaft, crank and connecting rods were verified as being original.

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. Additionally, this Speedster was put through a painstaking three-year study and earned ACD Club certification in June 2016. The Speedster was shown just once since its restoration, at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, when it completed the 80-mile Tour d’Elegance®. The Speedster comes complete with restoration documentation, photographs, invoices, 1967 Indianapolis and 2015 Pebble Beach plaques, operation documents, original jack, side curtains, and remaining paint.

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 amazing 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Boattail Speedster is likely the most well-documented, accurate, and freshest example extant.