International auction house Sotheby’s has sold an iconic art deco performance car of the Classic Era for the whooping $550,000. The original, authentic example has been beautifully restored to its former glory. It was formerly owned by well-known enthusiast David Tunick.
The Model 852 boasts a 150 bhp, 280 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine, single two-barrel carburetor, Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger, three-speed manual transmission with a Columbia dual-ratio rear axle, solid front and rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 127 in.
Designed by the legendary Gordon Buehrig, it was a head turner even by the standards of its time with its curvaceous bodywork and a straight hood line that shot back from the radiator to a sharply vee’d windshield. The distinctive rear design, elegantly outlined by chrome and striping, gave the Speedster its everlasting nickname, which is, simply, “the boattail.”
The model that was sold at Sotheby’s auction is one of about one hundred fifty last-generation Speedsters built, and it is an authentic Speedster, with its original frame and body. The 1936 model Speedsters are extraordinarily rare, as they were essentially leftovers of the 1935 line, and therefore, they are highly desired among ACD enthusiasts.
At its sale in 2005, the Speedster was carefully restored by Jim Stranberg, of High Mountain Classics in Denver, Colorado, at a reported cost of $480,000. This was followed by a second restoration by its next owner who chose to change the colours by commissioning a high-quality repaint in the car’s original black, but he still retained the dark red leather interior of its Stranberg restoration.
The end result is this Auburn “Boattail” Speedster with a surprisingly modern-feeling pleasure to drive. This particular car still holds rank among the finest treasures from the past.