American classics lead RM’s Auburn auction, with $17.6 million total sales

1935 Auburn Speedster and 1936 Duesenberg Model J were top sellers in Indiana

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1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster reigned in its home town of Auburn | RM Auctions photos

 A pair of great American pre-war classics led the results for RM Auctions’ sale this past week at Auburn Auction Park in Indiana, with total sales of $17.6 million and a 91 percent sell-through rate.  More than 500 collector cars and 400 pieces of memorabilia were offered.

The highest seller was a racy 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster, a boattail beauty in Nassau Orange that went for $770,000 (all results include auction fees).  Fully restored and sorted for driving tours, the Auburn was offered for the first time in more than two decades.  How appropriate that an Auburn would be the top dog at Auburn.  

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The 1936 Duesenberg Model J Tourster was presented in an unusual dark-chocolate color

Next highest was a 1936 Duesenberg Model J Tourster, sold for $632,500. The elegant machine was one of only 10 “JN” cars produced for Duesenberg by Rollston, and fully restored, it retains its original engine, drivetrain, frame and firewall.

The annual collector car auction, which was held for its 50th year over Labor Day weekend at the Auburn venue, was conducted under strict pandemic restrictions, limited on-site to pre-registered bidders and their guests with no general-admission spectators permitted to attend the live event.  Much of the bidding was conducted by phone and online. RM Auctions, which held the sale, is a division of RM Sotheby’s.

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All of the top-10 highest selling cars were American classics, sports cars and Indy 500 race cars. The Indy racers came from the collection of Bill Akin, the noted enthusiast, historian and Indianapolis race car restorer, whosubmitted 11 racers and about 250 pieces of Indy memorabilia, which achieved a total of nearly $2 million.

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The 1961 Epperly Indianapolis race car from the Bill Akin collection

“This year’s Auburn Fall auction results bested those of the previous year and there was noted enthusiasm in the room for the wide-ranging offering of motor cars and automobilia,” said Donnie Gould, car specialist for RM Sotheby’s Group. “We were thrilled to see our clients participating in the auction across all of the available channels, whether via phone, internet, absentee and of course in person.

“Given the staggering amount of those who registered to bid in advance as we requested, it was reassuring to see the appetite for great American collector cars such as those highlighted in Auburn this year.”

The 10 top-selling cars at RM’s Auburn auction were:

1. 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster, $770,000

2. 1936 Duesenberg Model J Tourster, $632,500

3. 1953 Kurtis 500 B Indianapolis, $550,000

4. 1961 Epperly Indianapolis, $407,000

5. 1960 Epperly Indianapolis, $385,000

6. 1933 Auburn Twelve Salon Speedster, $330,000

7. 1935 Duesenberg II Model SJ Torpedo Phaeton, $187,000

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8. 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible, $184,800

9. 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra ‘4000 Series,’ $180,400

10. 1932 Cadillac 355-B 2/4-passenger roadster, $152,900

(All results include auction fees)

RM Sotheby’s Group continues its live auction calendar with the Elkhart Collection, comprising an eclectic group of more than 240 collector cars, over 30 motorcycles, a wooden triple-cockpit boat, an assortment of trucks, trailers and equipment, alongside an array of memorabilia, at the collection site in Elkhart, Indiana, on October 23-24. For more information, visit the auction website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. Two of my fraternity brothers bought an identical 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster from a man in Santa Fe NM for $300 in 1949. The body was in perfect condition and the engine needed only minor work. The seller had it stored on blocks in a barn.

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