1935 Auburn 851

Boattail Speedster
A million-dollar GTO (no, not a Ferrari) in Kissimmee
Wednesday, 4 January - Sunday, 15 January
Sale Price
$850,000 - $975,000
Est. Range
14 January 2023
Sold Date
Lot Number
Recent restoration
Mecum Auctions
Auction House
Chassis no. 2988E; Engine no. 3777. Duck Egg Blue over red. 280 cid Lycoming straight-eight, floor shift 3-speed, red wheels with hub caps and trim rings, blackwall tires, golf bag door.

Evaluation: Represented as the only 851 Boattail Speedster delivered without a supercharger, reportedly because it was sent out to the Boston Automobile Show before the blowers were ready. Not sure how much of a boast that is, but it does make this Art Deco icon a rare example.

Body-off restoration finished in 2021 with original chassis and body (but not, presumably, the original engine). The paint is attractive and of high quality except for two long cracks behind the driver’s door and paint coming up a bit along the creases down the body sides. The chrome, interior and underbody are near show quality. The Boattail Speedster is among the most beautiful and valuable Prewar American automobiles, but how much of a difference this one’s unblown engine makes in value is up to the bidders.

Bottom Line: In 2009, this possibly unique Boattail Speedster sold for $243,000 at auction in Branson. That was a significant discount then and a $687,500 final price is a significant discount for it now. For reference, a blown Boattail (Lot U68.1) hammered at $800k the next day, and it didn’t even sell.

The supercharger is a big part of the 851’s story and gave the car a well-deserved reputation for performance. Let’s face it, though, no collectors are out there racing their Auburns between the lights. People buy them for leisurely drives and to admire them in the garage, and this blue Boattail is just as good for both. The more mundane engine arguably makes it more interesting and no less attractive, so let’s call it a very good buy. Sold for $243,000 at Branson 2009 – “While the supercharged Auburn Boattails have a deserved reputation for performance it is little if ever employed by collectors. This rare, possibly unique, unsupercharged Boattail is just as handsome, has adequate performance and a sharp, quality restoration that has met the test of time. The buyer got a terrific car for a relatively modest price.”

by Andrew Newton
21 January 2023

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