Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, Auburn, Indiana: Saturday, June 25, 2016: Gordon Buehrig, Cars of Indiana, Gallery of Speed

Gordon M. Buehrig (1904-1990)
The next gallery at the museum honours the celebrated automobile designer, Gordon Buehrig, who was responsible for some of the most iconic cars in the United States during a career that lasted some 45 years.  Immediately following a stint at Stutz, where he was responsible for the three lightweight boattailed Black Hawk Speedsters raced at LeMans in 1929, he joined Duesenberg Inc. as the in-house body designer in June 1929.  He was ultimately responsible for the designs for half of the coachwork that was to adorn the Model J.  In addition, he was the designer of the Auburn 851 Speedster and the Cord 810/812.  A master of the clay model, Buehrig's gallery shows models used for designing the Cord 810/812, along with tools of the craftsmen, and other highlights of his illustrious career.

One of Buehrig's great designs was the Duesenberg SJ Torpedo Sedan by Rollston, known as the "Twenty Grand" in recognition of its for-the-day astonishing cost of $20,000.  It was displayed at the 1933 Century of Progress fair in Chicago.  Photo via Sports Car Digest

In the former Accounting Department room is now to be found the Gallery of Technology, which features some of the interesting technical achievements of the company.  In addition to a bare chassis Cord L-29, illustrating the impressive front-wheel drive system, the room is dominated by the rather amazing Duesenberg V-16 engine, designed to be the most powerful aircraft engine available until the end of World War I meant the end of this and other Duesenberg aircraft engine development.

Cord L-29 chassis

Duesenberg Model H V-16 engine, with 48 valves, produced 800 hp

Duesenberg and Cord engines on display
In 1909 Indiana ranked only behind Michigan in terms of automobile manufacturing in the United States and can boast of having had some 350 individual car makers.  A fascinating gallery in the museum houses a display entitled "Hoosier Made: World Driven" featuring fine cars from Indiana companies, some more famous than others.

1894 Black Motor Buggy was constructed by carriage maker and blacksmith Charles Black, who may have already demonstrated an internal combustion vehicle in 1891

1899 Wavery Stanhope Phaeton

1901 Haynes-Apperson Model A Motor Carriage

1922 Haynes Model 55 Touring Car
1911 Izzer Roadster, a vehicle commissioned by Dr. H.H. Bissell and produced by the Model Gas Engine Works in Peru, Indiana.  A total of three cars were made, of which this (Dr. Bissell's own car) is the only survivor
1919 Cole Aero-Eight Model 885 Toursedan

1924 Marmon Model 34C 4-Passenger Speedster

1920 Apperson Model 8-20 Touring Car

Typical of "assembled" cars of the period, the Moon used a Continental engine, in this case a Red Star Six

1931 Stutz MB Chassis, power from an OHV 322 cu. in. V-8

The former Woodworking and Experimental Shop of the Auburn Company now houses a small gallery devoted to racing and record-setting cars

1910 Auburn Model 40 Speedster

Duesenberg Model A Engine

1932 Auburn 12-160A Boattail Speedster
Automobile enthusiasts Baron Jr., Miles, and Sam Collier of New York's Collier Advertising dynasty were instrumental in forming the Airmobile Racing Club of America in the 1930s. This 1932 Auburn Speedster was owned by Sam Collier who nicknamed the car Beelzebub. The vehicle was somewhat modified for racing by adding the small Brooklands windshields, the large tachometer and the copper cooling coil. The vehicle was road raced in Europe in 1933 against smaller cars such as MGs, Bugattis, and Model A Fords. In 1936 Sam raced it at the Cotton carnival Road Race in Memphis where he took top honors for the Touring Class. In 1937, Sam's brother Baron Jr., sped to a second place overall victory in the Climb to the Clouds race held at Mt. Washington.

1900 Eckhart Carriage, from the company that would eventually become the Auburn Automobile Company
The final gallery in a tour of the museum is housed in the former Purchasing and Accounting Office and is devoted to early Auburn cars, from 1903 to 1924.  The display cars are shown on a nice carpeted area, meant to invoke an upmarket car dealership.

1904 Auburn Model A

1911 Auburn Model N Four-Door Touring Car

1909 Auburn Model G Touring Car

Duesenberg racing at the French Grand Prix, LeMans, 1921
Duesenberg racing car at Gasoline Alley, Indianapolis Speedway
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1924 Auburn Model 6-43 Touring Car
1924 Auburn 6-63 Touring Car, in original condition

It was following the disappointing sales of 1924 that E.L. Cord was brought in to revive Auburn's fortunes and see led it to profitability until the Depression ended his empire.  E.L. Cord's office is found along a corridor lined with pictures from the company racing successes.

 Duesenberg racing car at the famous Gasoline Alley at the Indianapolis Speedway

Duesenberg racing at the French Grand Prix, 1921

E.L. Cord's Office

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