Auburn 12-165 Saloon Phaeton

Car producer : 



12-165 Saloon Phaeton





Auburn turned the industry on its ear with a new V12 for 1932. Designed by chief engineer George Kublin, it utilized a narrow, 45-degree vee with horizontal valves in the heads, operated by a single camshaft through rockers. It developed 160bhp from 391 cubic inches, more efficient than Packard or Lincoln. Priced from $1,105, it was an incredible bargain.

The success of his eight-cylinder cars notwithstanding, Cord decided to offer a V12 model, which arrived towards the end of 1931. Not only was the 12-160 technically very interesting, it was also the world's cheapest ever 12-cylinder car, selling for mere $975 with coupé bodywork. Despite its impressive power and sophistication, it cost less than the contemporary eight-cylinder Dodge. The 12-160 was superseded for 1933 by the types 12-161, 12-161A and 12-165, the latter being the most expensive Auburn on offer. Like their predecessors, they were powered by a Lycoming engine, which had a capacity of 6.5 litres, enabling the 12-cylinder Auburn chassis to cope with the weightiest of coachwork with ease. The more expensive models were equipped with an ingenious 'Dual Ratio' freewheel differential. Controlled by a lever on the dashboard, the system provided two speeds for each of the three gears, one of the benefits being reduced fuel consumption.

Auburn’s Salon Twelve model of 1933 combined the Indiana automaker’s top-of-the-line 6.4-litre 160 horsepower Lycoming V-12 with a host of new engineering, comfort, and stylistic improvements. Mounted on live rubber air cushions atop a frame strengthened with a new front A-member, it powered a car with such advanced features as adjustable vacuum-boosted brakes, a dual-ratio rear axle, Bijur chassis lubrication, Houdaille double-acting shock absorbers, and a tubular cowl frame structure, similar to that found on the fuselage of an airplane. Special body trim included a painted radiator shell that vee’d out at the bottom, a radiator cap concealed by the hood, headlamps with unique convex lenses, and stylized “ribbon” bumpers.

Due to the Great Depression and Auburn’s continuing financial difficulties, the Salon Twelve was actively built only in 1933. While it continued in offering into 1934 – the only Twelve model to do so – the cars sold that year were retitled 1933s.

In 1931, sales more than doubled and profits again reached 1929's record levels. This was due to the brilliant Alan Leamy who redesigned the entire Auburn line for 1931. Using some of the cues from the low-slung Murphy-inspired Cord, he applied them to dramatic effect on the taller Auburn chassis.

Auburn hoped for a repeat of previous successes, but that was not to be. The hefty profit of 1931 fell by 97 per cent, and 1933 was worse: just 6,000 cars were sold. 1934 was poorer still, with barely 4,000 produced. 1935, was the last year of the magnificent Twelve

Foremost among them is the Auburn Twelve Salon Speedster, which was produced only in 1933 and 1934. It was the sportiest of all Auburns, as it combined the power of the famous Lycoming V-12 with Alan Leamy’s striking “boattail” styling and featured additional chrome trim, unique headlamps, a unique dashboard, and the now-iconic Salon “ribbon” bumpers. It is believed that only nine were originally produced by the factory in Auburn, Indiana.

The speedster body was offered on eight- and twelve-cylinder chassis. Naturally, it was the Twelve that became the prestige item. The price was slightly higher in Custom trim, which added chrome sidelights, headlights, and taillights; wire wheels; and the “Dancing Lady” hood ornament. Nonetheless, it was an astonishing performance bargain for an automobile. Nonetheless, it was not abundant power that made the Auburn Twelve Speedster an icon of its age, it was Alan Leamy, the man who made beauty out of a beast.

Of all the Salon Twelve Auburns constructed, the most sought-after is the racy Speedster, of which it is believed fourteen original examples were built. These are among the most desirable of all Auburns, and arguably the best-looking automobile that the company ever built.

The V-12 speedster was a stunner, but it merely capped Auburn’s handsome eight-cylinder boattail speedster. That had actually been provoked by the Stutz Blackhawk, which he thought he could better at less than half the price, $2,195 against $5,000. However the V-12 speedster was the coup de grace.

Auburn produced only 20 Eight and Twelve Speedsters of all types, including the Standard, Custom, and Salon models, in 1933.

Among the scarcest Salon Twelve body styles is the cabriolet, of which about twenty-seven were built and only five survivors are known.

Sold for: 268800 USD
Go to restoration
See other models

You may also like these cars

to top