E. L. Cord’s 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster

The Auburn Boattail Speedster was a car designed for the roaring twenties. The automobile featured in this article, the 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster, was the dream of a man by the name of E.L. Cord. While the Boattail Speedster was the new automobile model Cord felt Auburn needed, the design is credited to Alan H. Leamy who worked for Duesenberg and Cord.

1929 auburn boattail speedster

1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster

E. L. Cord became president of the struggling Auburn Automobile Company in 1924 in an effort to revive a company trying to sell it's cars and having a difficult time doing so. The company was sitting on several hundred unsold cars piling up at the factory.

A Chicago area investor group which included William Wrigley recruited Cord to try to turn it around. The Chicago investor's took over the company in 1919 from the Eckhart brothers who started it in 1900 in Auburn Indiana.  As with so many of the very early automakers, the Eckhart brother's family had been in the horseless carriage business.

Cord's background was in automobile sales and marketing. Cord was a very successful automobile salesman. He restructured the company's sales and distribution channels and met with good initial success.

auburn boattail speedster

Auburn Boattail Speedster

An Attempt to Revive an Automaker

Auburn produced the Boattail Speedster from 1928 through 1936. The car had a bold and revolutionary appearance, much like a race car. Everything about the car's design pointed to speed. Auburn's Speedster was meant to bring new life to the company.

One attribute of the Boattail Speedster was that it offered eight cylinder power and performance at a price that many buyers were paying for six cylinder cars with nothing near the performance. The Boattail Speedster sold for about $1,400 to $1,800.  Interestingly enough, the Boattail Speedster was built on the exact same chassis as the rest of the Auburn line. It's name was derived from the boat-tail like rear end of the vehicle. The boat-tail and the car's pontoon style fenders gave it a very distinctive look.

Because of the company’s lackluster sales performance at the time, the Speedster was intended to spark excitement among the performance car buying public and bring in much needed cash. The Auburn Automobile Company was trying to remake itself with the flashy Speedster models.

1929 auburn boattail

1929 Auburn Boattail

The 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster was part of the best sales year in the history of the Auburn Automobile Company. During that model year Auburn sold a total of 32,301 vehicles. That figure was enough to beat Hudson, Packard and DeSoto.

After the 1929 stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression Auburn began to suffer. While the Boattail Speedster was a great buy for the money the company's sales, mostly due to the economy, went downhill quickly and by the end of 1937 automobile production ceased. An interesting historical note is that the company offered the lowest priced Auburn V-12 of any automaker in 1932, around $1,000, which was obviously a result of the Depression but certainly didn't help the bottom line.

As far as E. L. Cord's status was concerned, during the 1930's the former car salesman turned auto company president and owner was under fire for alleged mismanagement as well as questionable stock dealings and the company found itself with an acting president in 1935 by the name of Harold T. Ames. Ames oversaw some good enhancements to the Auburn Speedster and the car did quite well in racing competition but sales never met expectations. As mentioned above, the company stopped producing cars in 1937.

auburn speedster dash

Auburn Speedster dashboard

For those car owners left with their Duesenbergs, Auburns and Cords, a Detroiter by the name of Dallas Winslow purchased the assets of the bankrupt company and operated the business as a parts supplier and a service provider.

1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster Specifications

The 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster featured here has a 268 cubic inch Lycoming Straight Eight engine. This engine delivers 96 horsepower.

In 1929 Auburn offered two Speedster models, an 8-90 and an 8-120. The horsepower was rated at 96 and 125 respectively.

Transmission was a three speed manual and brakes were four wheel drum.

Wheelbase was 130.0 inches. Length was 194 1/4 inches and width 71.0 inches.

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Two books offered on the subject of E. L. Cord and the Auburn automobiles include Errett Loban Cord : His Empire, His Motor Cars by Griffith Borgeson and Auburn Automobiles: 1900-1936 Photo Archive by Jon M. Bill.

auburn speedster

Auburn Speedster

Auburn Boattail Speedster Collector Car Values

Today, depending on condition and degree of restoration, the 1929 Auburn Boattail Speedster has a value of about $55,000 to $150,000. Concours quality Speedsters can have price tags of over $500,000. We have also seen replica models with asking prices north of $60,000. Some of the Auburn Speedster replica or reproduction companies include California Custom Coach, The Classic Factory, Elegant Motors and Speedster Motorcars.

The two most popular models for car collectors appear to be the 1935 and 1936 Auburn Speedsters. The 35/36 Speedsters had 280 cubic inch straight eight Lycoming engines delivering 150 horsepower with a wheelbase of 127.0 inches. Their top speed was claimed to be over 100 MPH.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)

The 1951 Mack LS 85 Fire Truck

When you see a Mack truck you'll surely see the company's "bulldog" logo on the front of most of it's trucks. The "bulldog" trademark originated from World War One when the British government bought Mack AC models to use on the front lines. As it turned out the Mack truck performed so well and was so durable that it reminded the soldiers of the toughness and strength of the British Bulldog.

1951 mack fire pumper truck

1951 mack LS 85 Fire Pumper

Mack Trucks of Allentown Pennsylvania has quite a history of building fire trucks and other fire apparatus. Like so many of the early automotive companies, Mack had it's roots in the horse drawn carriage trade. This was the history of the Studebaker brothers as well. The Mack brothers built their carriages in the late 1800's and went on to build their first motorized vehicle in 1902.

The company began building fire fighting equipment in 1911. The company built thousands of fire trucks up until 1990.

Mack Trucks built many types of vehicles of course in addition to fire trucks. During the late 1930's and early 40's the company built a total of 290 trolley buses.

The L Series of Mack fire trucks, of which our featured fire truck is a part of, were produced between 1940 and 1956. The Mack L models had attractive new styling while having a rugged look. The LS models were built in many different configurations which means that the historian and collector will find a good many unique models.

Many like our 1951 Mack LS 85 are on display at museums all over the U.S. In addition to this you'll also come across a variety of Mack fire trucks from the 1950's for sale to collectors and restorers.

controls on fire pumper truck

Side controls on fire pumper truck

The 1951 Mack LS 85 Fire Pumper Truck shown in this article was capable of pumping 750 gallons of water per minute. Some of the LS 85 models pumped 1,000 gallons per minute.

The tank on the truck of this model year might contain 300 to 500 gallons. The new truck price in 1951 would have been around $15,500.The first Mack L fire pumper models sold for about $7,800 in 1940.

For collectors today this same 1951 antique fire engine might be priced in the area of $6,000 to $8,000 depending on the condition.

All pumper fire trucks are made to pump water whether from a tank on the truck or from a source like a fire hydrant. Pumper trucks carry water in case a hydrant is unavailable at the scene of a fire and are generally the first trucks to respond. Hoses can usually be attached to several places on the truck allowing many firefighters to operate at one time. On this model there were two discharge ports on the driver's side and one on the opposite side. Suction intakes were on each side of the truck and on the rear. Some pumper trucks also carry firefighting chemicals.

1951 mack fire engine

1951 Mack Fire Engine

You might remember the early horse drawn carriages with a tank attached. The modern pumper fire trucks are complicated machinery that are typically built to order. Today the fire pumper truck is also referred to as a fire engine company whose sole purpose is to get water on a fire. For comparison sake a ladder company is sent to a fire to gain access to the structure, typically a multi-storied building. While you'll find fire departments around the country employing many pieces of equipment, the engine company (pumpers) and the ladder company are the main two components. The third component is generally the rescue vehicles of fire departments.

The 1951 Mack LS 85 Pumper shown in this article has pumper controls on the side of the truck. Top controls however give firefighters a 360 degree view.

1951 mack fire pumper

1951 Mack Fire Pumper

The Mack LS 85's which were known as semi-open cab models were built with a Mack 707A engine. This was a 707 cubic inch engine delivering 225 horsepower. This was a straight six engine.

The common transmission on the Mack LS 85's was a four speed manual.

The 1951 Mack LS 85 had a 750 gallon per minute two stage Hale centrifugal pump.

The LS 85's had a wheelbase of 182 inches and an overall length of 25 feet.

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mack fire pumper truck

1951 Mack Fire Pumper

Visiting the San Antonio Fire Museum

When visiting San Antonio Texas and enjoying a stroll along the Riverwalk and a tour of the Alamo, there's another very interesting venue located behind the Alamo grounds. The San Antonio Fire Museum is located at 801 East Houston St. in downtown San Antonio.

This museum located in the old Central Fire Station not only exhibits fire trucks but also a large collection of artifacts and photos that highlight the history of San Antonio fire fighters and the city itself. You'll find the museum staffed with retired fire fighters who are volunteers. They are very knowledgeable and will give you plenty of good information regarding the exhibits. This is a gem of a fire museum and is a must stop when visiting San Antonio Texas.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)

1932 Ford Phaeton Street Rod

Phaeton was an open automobile style that was derived from the phaeton horseless carriage. The phaeton carriage was an open carriage or buggy. There were many things connected with horseless carriages that carried over to the new automobile world. A phaeton automobile body had no protection whatever from the elements.  Many automakers designated their open air styles as phaetons. This included Cadillac, Ford, VW, Buick and others.

1932 ford phaeton street rod

1932 Ford Phaeton street rod

Finally during the latter 1930's when true convertibles were offered the phaeton fell out of favor. Closed bodies and convertibles took over which really was a natural progression of coachbuilding. Not surprising however, the pillarless hardtops and convertibles were still often marketed as phaetons.

The 1932 modified Ford Phaeton featured in this article was a Ford Model B. The 1932 Ford Phaeton, like the one shown here, is an attractive street rod and many have been modified into these. Hot rods and street rods come in many forms and the one overriding attribute is that just about every one is a bit different from the other.

Replica Ford Phaeton Bodies

Today you'll find original 1932 Ford Phaetons although they're rare finds. One company that has manufactured 1932 Ford Roadster bodies for over thirty years is Westcott's Auto. This company also offers parts and fenders for street rods. The Ford bodies they cover a range from 1926 to 1940.

1932 ford model 18

1932 Ford

Another company, Timeless Rods and Customs, offers 1932 Ford fiberglass bodies among several other replica bodies.

Original Specifications 1932 Ford Phaeton V-8

Ford's Model B which came out in 1932 continued to offer 200 cubic inch the four cylinder engine. For Ford this kept costs down. A Ford V-8 also came out in 1932 which was on the phaeton and was designated the Model 18. The Model 18 was considered the very first V-8 put in mass production. The Model 18's engine was a 221 cubic inch V-8 delivering 65 horsepower. The engine's output was increased later with improved carburetors.

It should also be noted that the mass produced V-8 Model 18 was considered an affordable V-8. This is saying a lot as 1932 sales were experiencing the effects of the Great Depression.

1932 ford model 18

1932 Ford Phaeton Model 18

Transmission on the 1932 Ford Phaeton was a three speed floor shift sliding gear manual.

Brakes were four wheel mechanical.

The 1932 Ford Phaeton's wheelbase was 106.0 inches (same as the Model B) and overall length was 165.5 inches. . This would crease by six inches in 1933. Vehicle weight came in a bit under 2,400 lbs.

Estimates are that there were about 2,000 Ford Phaetons built for the 1932 model year. This number includes all Ford Phaetons, both four and eight cylinder. Ford Model 18's were built in a variety of body styles including a Tudor and Fordor. A total of about 265,000 1932 Ford Models were built. Out of this number about 192,000 were Model B's and 73,000 Model 18's. In addition to these Ford Motor produced about 17,000 vehicles in Canada, about 10,000 of those being Model B's.

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modified 1932 ford street rod

Modified 1932 Ford street rod

1932 Ford Phaeton Collector Car

I believe most collectors will tell you that out of the 1930's the largest segment of vintage automobiles in demand are the open air cars such as the phaetons and woody wagons.

If you can find a 1932 V-8 model, which won't be easy, the car in a way is a milestone vehicle. As mentioned above, the 1932 Ford Model 18 was the first V-8 set up for mass production. The 1932 Ford V-8 was also introduced to surpass Chevrolet's V-6.

Ford's V-8 leapfrogged Chevy's V-6. Most auto history books will tell you that Henry Ford quickly put into production his 1932 V-8 because of Chevy's V-6 offering. By doing this he did one-up on Chevy. Deveopment of Ford's V-8 was undertaken at the company's Dearborn Engineering Laboratory.

ford model 18 street rod

Ford Model B sleek styling

All early 1930's cars are highly collectible. In regards to the 1932 Ford Phaeton, the plus is it's popularity among collectors and it's rarity. The car however can be over restored. It's not difficult to over spend on this vehicle. Some might also say that the car can be overpriced. It's a fine line as to how much is enough to restore or modify the car. Originality will generally help with value but you'll find a lot of beautifully modified Ford Phaetons with impressive asking prices.

Ford automobiles of the late twenties and through the thirties have excellent auto clubs around the country which can be a big resource whether you're restoring an original or putting together a Ford street rod.

ford phaeton dash

1932 Ford street rod modified dashboard

When researching Ford serial numbers  a collector will a also want to know that some of these 1932 Ford Phaeton models that were originally built as Model B's with the four cylinder engine were modified into V-8's.

1932 Ford Phaeton prices cover a wide range depending on the originality and modifications. Four cylinder replicas can be priced at around $20,000. As of this writing look for prices for "original" 1932 Ford Model 18's in the $65,000 to $75,000 plus range.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)