1931 Auburn Model 8-98A Phaeton Convertible

The 1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton Convertible is one of the finest looking vintage automobiles you’ll come across. The Auburn Automobile Company, produced in Auburn, Indiana, has a storied history in several ways. Auburn cars were produced from 1900 ( a one cylinder car) to 1936. It’s head man during the mid 1920’s through 1935, Errett Lobban Cord, once admitted to having made and lost $50,000 three times in the course of his business dealings, and all before reaching the age of 21. That was a tidy sum in that era.

1931 auburn
1931Auburn 8-98A

E. L. Cord

Cord actually breathed life into the Auburn Automobile Company when he joined the the automaker as general manager in 1924. A that time the company was building more cars than it could sell and was becoming a candidate for bankruptcy. E.L.Cord had been an excellent salesman, not an engineer, but knew enough to make a few timely changes that essentially turned the company around.

He would replace all six cylinder engines with Lycoming straight eight engines and launch a restyling program that would have Auburns painted in two-tone color schemes. Cord added some pizzazz to what had become a staid laid back auto company albeit with an excellent reputation for performance cars. E. L. Cord would go on to take over the Auburn Automobile Company with investor capital and partner with Duesenburg. Cord would ultimately come out with a front wheel drive car with his name, the Cord L-29.

1931 auburn phaeton convertible
The sleek new 1931 Auburn

It should be noted that at one time E.L. Cord was one of the world’s wealthiest men, operating much more than his automobile companies. Cord controlled an airline, a shipbuilder, a communications company, an engine company and an aircraft manufacturer. After his downfall from the automotive world in 1936 for alleged illegal stock dealings, Cord later moved to California and made millions more in radio and TV and real estate.

The 1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton Convertible

The year 1931 ushered in what many say were the glamor years for Auburn. Visionary automobile designer Al Leamy introduced new styling features for 1931. These included an elegantly swept fender line along with a long hood. With a new body style came the underlying chassis and frame which featured a rigid X form cross member. This enabled the car to have a three inch lower body height off the ground which in turn made the Auburns of that year much more sportier and swanky looking.

The Convertible Phaeton Sedan was a very popular Auburn body style. The Auburn Phaeton models offered some innovative options such as roll-up windows and removable center pillars for a flush “all-weather” fit along the convertible top. With the center pillars removed and the windows and top down gave passengers a terrific view with nothing to obscure the passing landscape. This of course was one of Auburn’s firsts.

1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton Convertible Specifications

The 1931 Auburn Model *-98A as built with a 268 Cubic Inch Lycoming Straight Eight engine. The engine delivered 98 horsepower (thus the 8-98 model) with a claimed top speed of

Brakes were four wheel internal expanding and the car’s transmission was a three speed Synchro-mesh manual.

Suspension was comprised of semi-elliptic leaf springs both front and back.

The 1931 Auburn 8-98A had a wheelbase of 127.0 inches.

The new car price for the 1931 Auburn Eights averaged over $1,000. This was a very pricey automobile in 1931 and during the first part of the Great Depression. To give you an example of prices for more mainstream models during this period, a 1932 Ford V-8 could be bought for between $400 and $500. A 1932 Chevrolet Convertible cost new about $500.

The prices Auburn was charging for their sharp looking and well manufactured cars hurt sales significantly. As an example, per the publication Complete Book of Collectible Cars, 1931 Auburn Eight production totaled 36,148 vehicles. In 1932 that figure fell to 6,000 and for 1933 the figure was 4,000. The depths of the Depression hurt automakers like Auburn to a very big degree and contributed to it’s demise in 1936.

auburn 8-98
Front end view of the 31 Auburn 8-98A

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum

If you’re an Auburn automobile enthusiast and you’re anywhere near Auburn Indiana you’ll want to stop at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum. The museum building itself is located in what used to be the International Headquarters of the Auburn Automobile Company from 1930 to 1936. The museum’s automobile and artifact collection is spread throughout the building mingled with restored work areas and offices. Among the automobile collection are Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs plus other classics and other automobiles manufactured in Indiana. The museum address is 1600 Wayne St, Auburn, Indiana.

1931 auburn dashboard
The dashboard on the 1931 Auburn 8-98A

The 1931 Auburn Collector Cars

All Auburn automobiles are very collectible. In regards to the 1931 models, the highest valuation collectibles are the open models.

The 1931 Auburn 8-98A Phaeton Convertible in museum like condition and original will likely sell at auction in the high five figure range. Models like this have sold for $75,000. The 1931 Auburn Boattail Speedster has sold at auction for $176,000. Phaeton Sedans have sold in the $40,000 plus range.

You may also enjoy the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below…

1935 Auburn Boattail Speedster

The Cord L-29

The Rare 1936 Ford Woody Wagon

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)