In 1935, you would become an instant celebrity if you owned a vehicle that can go over a hundred miles per hour. The 100 mph cars were known as “the ton”. Today, vehicles going over 100 mph are pretty common. It’s easy to find modern cars to cruise at that speeds that remain comfortable and stable. Especially for cars with independent suspensions, hitting the 100-mph mark is a breeze. But it was completely different back in the 1930s.
The Model 851 Supercharged Auburn Speedster is one of “the ton” cars. It even boasts its 100-mph speed by having a plaque mounted on the dash that proudly says that this car has run more than 100 miles per hour which was a great marketing strategy at that time. All of the Supercharged Auburn Speedsters wore this plaque which was signed by David “Ab” Jenkins as a testimony to their performance.
Gordon Buehrig designed the body of the Model 851 Auburn Speedster which looks fast even when it is parked. Just by looking at it, you’ll know that the Auburn Speedster was entirely built for speed. The 100-mph speed is provided by the 280 cubic inched straight eight Lycoming engine topped with the Schweitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger that produces 150bhp. Although aerodynamics was still unheard off at that time, it certainly looks very aerodynamic which was an uncommon design at that time. The Auburn is probably one of the links between the boxy look of the 1920s cars and the completely smooth designs of the 1940s car. The Auburn looks very modern, even for today’s standard. The Auburn is years ahead of its time, both in style and performance.
The interior of the Model 851 Auburn Supercharged Speedster is a perfect fit for a very sporty car. it has a very luxurious design that provides a comfortable driving position, a whole lot better compared to other speedsters of its time. It features a 3-speed transmission with a Columbia dual ratio rear axle which provides a total of 6 gear ratios. But it doesn’t need to go through all of the gears to achieve its full potential. The 2-speed differential is mainly used to switch from the 4.5:1 gear for a town cruise to the 3:1 gear for highway cruise. The 2-speed differential featured an innovative epicyclic gear train that is fitted between the crown wheel and the axle. The gear shifting is a bit more complicated than the standard cars have at that time.
The other mechanical parts of the Auburn Speedster were more conventional. The flathead straight eight engine was very durable even with the supercharger. It featured semi-elliptic leaf spring and live axles for a very smooth ride. It is stopped by Lockheed drum brakes that are controlled by hydraulics.
The Auburn Speedster is actually more conventional than it actually looks. The few innovations are what set it apart from the standard cars and made it a very desirable classic.
This 1935 Model 851 Auburn Supercharged Speedster comes in a cigarette cream finish and looks stunning. It is a great example of the last cars produced by Auburn before finally closing down. Even though the 100 mph speed is no longer a big fuss today, its beautiful art deco style can still attract a crowd. A prestigious look that few modern cars can match.
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