Despite launching the world’s cheapest V12, Auburn’s success waned in the mid-1930s as Cord’s business ventures expanded to include Lycoming, Duesenberg, Columbia Axle, Checker Cab, and interests in shipbuilding and aviation.

Auburn’s peak came in 1935 with the 851, a remarkable car with a 4.6-litre, supercharged straight-eight engine and a striking boat-tail speedster design by Gordon Buehrig. Unfortunately, by 1937, Cord’s empire had collapsed, and Auburn ceased operations, but it left a lasting legacy with the iconic 851.

Each 851 was guaranteed to exceed 100 mph in its stock form and could be driven comfortably at modern highway speeds, thanks to an innovative Dual-Ratio rear axle providing both low and high ranges for each gear. Today, it is considered one of the masterpieces of the Classic Era, and surviving models are highly prized by collectors.

Photos by Corey Davis courtesy of RM Sotheby’s