In recent posts I have described the brief history of the brands owned by EL Cord. The last manufacturer he owned for a while was Auburn.
Auburn was founded around 1900 and formed out of the Eckhart Carriage Company by the brothers Frank and Morris Eckhart. They absorbed a couple of smaller local companies (Zimmerman Manufacturing and W. H. Kilbinger) and produced cars until WW1 when materials started to be in short supply and the factory closed. The oldest known model is at the Auburn Museum and is a 1-cylinder 1904 version although they do have a picture of the prototype taken in 1903. Styling of these earlier cars was very similar to all others from this period, so quite non-descript and they have an early Benz or Ford influence. Auburn moved to two cylinders in 1905 and progressed to four in 1909 and six by 1912.
The Eckhart brothers sold the company in 1919 to a group of Chicago investors (including William Wrigley – of Wrigley’s Gum fame) who restarted production but didn’t make the money they were hoping for, so in 1924 they offered the company to EL Cord, the General Manager, after he had sold all of the unsold stock by lowering the roofs and brightly painting each car. In 1926, he added Duesenberg to the group and with the help of some creative designers started to build some swoopy sports models namely the 8-90, 8-100 and 851 Speedsters. These cars started to show the rounder styles that were becoming popular as new manufacturing processes made it easier to build more aerodynamic designs.
Like the Cord 810, the Auburn branded cars used 4.9-litre Lycoming V8s pumping out a massive 115hp, although Duesenberg was working with Lycoming to add a supercharger to the V8 increasing power to 150hp! From 1932, Auburn added in a series of V12 Lycoming powered models, some selling for as little as $1,000!
The cars were too expensive for the Depression era and so in 1937, EL Cord sold his companies to Aviation Corporation and car production ceased although the V12 engine was used in aircraft and fire trucks right up to the 60s.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum now occupies the factory in Indiana.