Established by brothers Frank and Morris Eckhardt
in 1900, their new company took its name from
the town of Auburn, Indiana, USA. The company
started out making horse drawn carriages; three
years later they decided to try their hand
at the manufacture of a single-cylinder chain-driven
car, known as the Runabout. In a time of rapid
automotive technological change, the single-cylinder
engine was dumped in favour of a twin cylinder
unit in 1905, a four cylinder engine followed
in 1910 and by 1912 a six cylinder engine was
used. None of these engines, however, were developed
by Auburn, rather they sourced them from Continental,
Rutenber and Teetor. 1919’s Beauty Six
was a solid and reliable car, and would morph
into the 6-51 sports car.
Despite the popularity
of these cars, the cost of automotive innovation
in keeping pace with the plethora of other start-up
automotive manufacturers took a heavy financial
toll, the company being rescued by William Wrigley
who enlisted Erret Lobban Cord to assume control. A new range of Auburns was commissioned for 1925,
and the company bounced back for a time, enough
to ensure Auburn would survive the depression.
While the straight six, straight eight and V12
were always popular, the 1931 8-98 set the benchmark
for modern styling, and it’s bigger brother
the 851 supercharged speedster caused something
of a sensation. åGuaranteed to reach 100 mph,
the magical figure to which all automotive manufactures
aspired, ensured the Auburn Speedsters would
forever be remembered in automotive history.
The Speedsters were extremely expensive to manufacture,
Auburn losing money on every single one sold.
It was a recipe for disaster, and demonstrated
very early the difficulties any super-car manufacturer
would face. Auburn went into liquidation in 1937.