Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Auburn: "You can't equal it for $1250"

This 1907 advertisement for The Auburn from Cycle And Automobile Trade Journal isn't quite as cool as the advertisement for The Dragon that I wrote about last year, but it's still interesting.

The Auburn, as it was touted 112 years ago (seven years before the birth of Norman Lloyd) was a five-passenger touring (open) car with a 100-inch wheel base, a pressed steel frame, 24 horsepower and the capacity to travel between 3 and 40 miles per hour.

All of this for just $1,250 in 1907, which is the equivalent of — gulp — more than $33,000 today. That amount of cabbage these days would get you, according to Google and certainly not me, an Audi Q3, a Mercedes-Benz CLA, a Lexus NX or an Infiniti Q50. I'm good with my Civic, thanks.

Auburn Automobile Company, which manufactured this namesake car, was in business from 1900 to 1937 before succumbing to bankruptcy. In 1926, Errett Cord, then the owner of Auburn, partnered with Duesenberg Corporation, which was famous for its racing cars, to launch a line of high-priced luxury vehicles — the Duesenberg Model J.1 Ongoing love for that era's vehicles spurred the launch of the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club in the early 1950s. Of Auburn (under Cord) and its Duesenberg subsidiary, the club's history page states: "The cars they produced are today among the best known and visually stunning in the world. It is fair to say that no two car companies — anywhere, anytime — incorporated more new concepts into their products over a period of so few years."

The company went out of business in 1937, but its Art Deco headquarters in Auburn, Indiana, now houses the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, which opened in 1974. The building is also a National Historic Landmark.

1. Various sources put the total cost of the 1928 Duesenberg Model J between $13,000 and $19,000, which would be between $190,000 and $277,000 today. Unless your grandfather was a crown prince, this was not your grandfather's car.

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