1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster

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Auburn Automobile is one of the most storied car manufacturers in American history, and the 851/852 Boattail Speedster was the company's swan song before production ceased in 1937. This magnificent car was designed by Gordon Buehrig, who also designed the Dusenberg Model, Continental Mk II, and the Cord 810/812.

Power comes by way of a supercharged 4.6 liter straight-8. The engines were built by Lycoming, today one of the world's leading manufacturers of aviation engines. Lycoming was then owned by Errett Lobban Cord, who also owned Auburn.

This particular car was owned by Valentino Chickinelli, one of the very earliest collectors of significant American cars, who discovered this particular car in a garage in Omaha, Nebraska in 1949. Even in the dawn of car collecting and restoration, the beauty of the Auburn Speedster was recognized.

This car will be sold by Mecum Auctions in Monterey, California on August 18-20, 2016, right before the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.

---- Specifications ----
Price -- Production --
Engine 4.6 liter Lycoming straight-8 Weight --
Aspiration supercharger Torque --
HP 150 hp HP/Weight --
HP/Liter 32.6 hp per liter 1/4 mile --
0-62 mph -- Top Speed --

(from Mecum Auctions Press Release)

  • 'Valentino's Speedster,' formerly owned by famed collector Valentino Chickinelli from 1949-2013
  • Extremely original preservation level unrestored Supercharged Speedster
  • Stored from 1961-2013
  • Thorough yet sympathetic mechanical restoration performed by Auburn specialist, Howard Lane, overseen by Pre-War preservation expert Evan Ide in 2014
  • Original matching numbers Supercharged Lycoming 8-cylinder engine
  • Original supercharger rebuilt by Holman Automotive
  • Original Columbia 2-speed rear axle
  • A very special example of the iconic Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster

While many magnificent automobiles rolled out of the famed Auburn in Indiana prior, their true icon would come in late 1934. Penned by Gordon Buehrig, the young designer who had mastered designs for Stutz and Duesenberg, the 851 Boattail Speedster could be considered his masterpiece. An art deco influenced, streamlined Speedster, this exceptional automobile was powered by a supercharged Lycoming eight-cylinder engine, offered staggering 150 HP performance for its day, and the standard Columbia dual ratio rear axle added a whole new dimension to its drivability- speed. The 851 Speedster was the first stock American car to exceed 100 MPH for twelve hours. In fact, all 851 Boattail Speedsters were guaranteed to exceed 100 MPH in stock form. Its performance was astonishing, but the car is remembered today for its styling; it is undeniably one of the most striking and unforgettable designs of the 1930s.

Valentino Chickinelli, a World War II Marine Corps veteran, whose family founded the legendary Omaha Plating, had a love for cars. As one of the first true collectors of significant American cars, Val’s passion was hunting significant cars and in 1949, one of his car hunts led him to the discovery of this exceptional Auburn Boattail Speedster, Chassis number 32069E, in a garage in Omaha, Nebraska.

Val soon began “sprucing up” his Speedster, including many custom touches to show off the quality of Omaha Platings work. A long-time friend of Val's, who owned the region's premier coach shop, carefully applied the lacquer paint work it still wears today.

Val would tell people it was hard to drive the Auburn on the city streets because people were always running him off the road to get a closer look at his car. From 1955 to 1961, the Auburn was in numerous regional car shows and parades, where it won many major awards and cash prizes. In 1962, Val entered the Auburn in a vintage car club race at an oval racetrack at Playland Park, an amusement park in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa. During the event, the car overheated which cracked the cylinder head at the thermostat housing, but Val still won the race. His co-pilot was an old friend and customer of his, whom, during the race was smoking his cigar, elbowing Val in the side and kept saying to him "pour it to her, Chick!" At the end of the day, Val was able to brag that he beat his good friend's 1932 Supercharged Duesenberg SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton.

Val later located and acquired an original NOS replacement head, and had every intention of fixing the Auburn, but as often happens he found himself too busy buying and restoring more antique cars. The Auburn was parked in the garage during the summer of 1962, and didn't move from that spot for 52 years.

Val passed away in August 2013 at 89 years old, some sixty-four years after stumbling across a special Auburn in an Omaha garage. Of all of the cars in his 100-plus car collection, the Speedster was always Val’s favorite, a car he knew the first time he laid eyes on it in 1949 that he would never sell. In late-2013 Val’s family made the difficult decision to remove the time-capsule 851 Speedster from storage and offer it for sale. Its current owner, who had been looking for an 851 or 852 Speedster for many years, recognized the opportunity to purchase 32069E and became its next owner. After inspection by Auburn Speedster experts and Pebble Beach judges who confirmed the extreme level of originality 32069E possessed, from it’s incredibly rare original exhaust headers right down to its original gas cap and headlight lenses, he had Auburn specialist Howard Lane perform a thorough, yet sympathetic, mechanical restoration overseen by pre-war preservation expert Evan Ide. 32069E’s engine was removed, disassembled and inspected; the NOS cylinder head Val had sourced in 1962 was installed, the Supercharger rebuilt by specialist Holman Automotive, the entire fuel, cooling, and braking systems rebuilt and numerous other items to insure 32069E would be a reliable tour car that also performed as it should. Coker bias-look radial tires were also fitted to further improve the driving experience. Since its awakening, 32069E has been driven extensively and is reported to perform as a proper 851 Speedster should. It is strong and smooth, with the 2-speed rear axle affording surprisingly capable high speed capabilities and it’s original Supercharged Lycoming engine reminding all who experience it why these Speedsters were such a sensation when new. They were the American Supercar of their day.

In the complex world of Auburn Speedsters, where many either started life as something else, or are restored cars with few original Speedster components remaining, 32069E stands out from the crowd. It is one of the few, if any, essentially unrestored examples that remain and certainly the only one that spent 64 years in a single owners care. Valentino’s Speedster is well known among Auburn enthusiasts and, unlike a flawlessly restored car, exhibits the character and moving history lesson that can only be found in an original car. Every flaw in its wonderfully mellowed 60 year old paint job and every reflection in the components Val so carefully chromed at Omaha Plating in the early 1950’s tells a story. 32069E is one of the few significant pre-war cars that hasn’t had this kind of magnificent history erased by multiple owners and restorations.

And, when you “pour it to her” and feel that supercharged thrust, you can’t help but feel the same thrill Valentino and his buddy did that day they beat a Duesy SJ on that oval at Playland Park in 1962.

Please note this vehicle is titled as a 1936.