1927 Auburn 8-88T review

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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Huge tourer has had only three owners

1927 Auburn 8-88T

It's not every day you trip over a car this size, let alone with the Auburn name attached. The giant 1927 8-88T – as its American builders named it – was one of just 19 made that year, was probably the only soft-top and is thought to be the only survivor.

Auburn is one of those brands that slips under the radar, even for car nuts, though at its zenith it hit an annual production number of 31,000. Owned by EL Cord – who was the founder of the eponymous Cord marque – Auburn slotted in as an upper-echelon brand with a range of offerings. Depending on the buyer, the US maker could challenge offerings from Chrysler through to Packard.

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There were Auburn dealers in Australia, and the Queensland franchise that sold this car must have been celebrating the day the cheque arrived. It would have been for around 1200 pounds – the price of a modest house – and for that you got a seven-seater grand tourer with a straight-eight engine by Lycoming. It sat on the firm’s biggest chassis, with a 147-inch (3.73m) wheelbase. To give you a sense of scale, a current Toyota Land Cruiser sits in a 112-inch (2.84m) wheelbase. It’s huge.

At that time Cord owned Lycoming, which builds aircraft engines to this day, having outlived its host car brands. This engine is a sidevalve straight eight, which Lycoming by this stage had bored out to 4.8lt. It was available in several states of tune, and this version was enough to punt the giant car to a solid 100km/h. It’s matched to a three-speed manual transmission.

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It had some cruical conveniences such as a self-starter (electric start) and the safety feature of four-wheel brakes. Cheaper brands often made do with rear brakes only.

That powerplant was also the basis for the better-known Auburn Speedster coupe, which boasted as much as 120 horses.

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The mining family which first bought the car new owned it all the way through to 1973, though it had been taken off the road in the 1950s. The second owners had it restored in the early 1990s and weren’t afraid to drive it across the country to assorted vintage and classic rallies.

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Its current owner is Ron McCann of Undercover Cars in Queensland, who has kept it as a toy for many years. He’s owned a number of Auburns and admits, "I fell in love with this one because of the size of it." He chuckles that the owners of this car bought upgraded wheels because they didn’t fancy the standard rims – a practice that’s very much alive and well in the car game today.

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So what’s it like to drive? "Vintage, but rewarding," he says. Now he’s decided to sell and it’s on the market for $97,000. A lot of money, perhaps, but when you look at the prices of equivalent cars from Packard or Rolls-Royce, it starts to look like value.

Undercover Cars can be reached on (07) 3823 1483.

From Unique Cars #435, January 2020

 

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