The Auburn Speedster: Design and History

The Auburn Speedster is the epitome of the term “classic car.” This popular roadster was created by the now-defunct Auburn Automobile Company and is a coveted item among serious car collectors. In addition to being a solid vehicle, the Speedster has quite a bit of history behind it. 

Auburn’s Inception

In 1900, brothers Frank and Morris Eckhart founded the Auburn, Indiana-based Auburn Automobile Company. Prior to this, the Eckharts had built horse wagons alongside their father, but after inheriting the family business, Frank and Morris decided to branch out into the “horseless carriages” that had recently started to gain steam. However, after their first vehicle a one-cylinder, chain-drive runabout failed to meet sales expectations, the newly-formed company fell on financial hard times.

Birth of the Speedster

Disappointing sales of their flagship vehicle coupled with the financial impact of the 1921-1922 Recession prompted the Eckharts to enlist the aid of young marketing guru Erret Lobban Cord and a small assortment of talented designers. After successfully selling off their entire stock of older vehicles, the new team set to work creating the very first Auburn Speedster

Newfound Success

The first Speedster was unveiled in 1925. Featuring semi-elliptic suspension, a 68 bhp Lycoming engine and hydraulic brakes, the body-styled two-seater quickly became a hit. Over the next nine years, the Speedster would see a number of design changes. In addition to incorporating mechanical brakes, later models sported supercharged engines and were marketed as race cars that featured all the comforts of casual-use vehicles. Unfortunately, despite the company’s relative success with the Speedster, Auburn wound up ceasing vehicle production in 1937.   

A highly sought-after item by car collectors across the globe, the Auburn Speedster remains popular more than a half-century after its creation. Learning more about the history behind this plucky little roadster is bound to enhance one’s appreciation for all the vehicle has to offer. 


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