Cars to Drive in a Lifetime: Auburn 851 “Boattail” Speedster

There were a few grand American automakers which were strong enough to survive the Depression, but Auburn was not one of them. Among the last most alluring luxury models that the manufacturer created during the 1930s was the 851 “BoattailSpeedster. Launched in 1935, the car flaunted a unique design by famed automobile designer Gordon Buehrig, with pontoon fenders and a tapered tail, features that were meant to evoke the design of sleek watercraft. The car had a maximum speed of 100 mph and it needed 15 seconds to complete the 0-65 mph sprint.

Clearly, Auburn targeted the young and dynamic customers with the 851 “Boattail” Speedster. The car was powered by a straight-eight engine and there was also an optional supercharger available for those who wanted more horsepower: 150 hp instead of 115 hp for the standard version. There was also a diesel version of the car, which was not a common feature among luxury vehicles of the time. However special this car was, sales were quite poor, with less than 2,000 units sold in 1936. The following year saw no more new Auburns. Still, driving one of these is a true honor today.

  • Claim to Fame: Even today, this is considered a landmark American classic.
  • Soundtrack: “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer” by Nat King Cole
  • Ideal Passenger: Greta Garbo
  • Where to Drive It: The streets of Beverly-Hills.
  • How to Get Behind the Wheel: Maybe you can pull something if you get hired at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Indiana.

Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster (2) 

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