Saturday, October 20, 2018
The Auburn, Cord, Dusesenerg Automobile Museum
THE AUBURN, CORD, DUSESENBERG AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM
1937 Cord 812S
When I was a child in the 1930s, the most frequent cars I saw around me were Model A Fords and Chevies. These were mass produced, assembly line products from Detroit that many people could afford. But, there was something else on the road that looked different, and when I saw one, I stopped in wonder to admire it. That car was the Cord, produced in Auburn, Indiana. Individually made they were considered then and even more so now as not only cars, but as works of art.
Recently on one of our trips to Indiana, my wife and I were fortunate enough to stop in Auburn, Indiana, and visit the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Museum where the Cords with their sister/brother cars the Auburn and the Duesenberg are on display restored to all their original beauty.
The manufacture of these cars ceased in 1937 because the depression had seriously cut into their sales, and they became collectors’ items with a group of mechanics dedicated to keep them operational.
After closing down the factory 37 years later in1974, the museum was opened in the former headquarters of the Auburn Automobile Company, a three-story building that is an ideal setting for the 131 impeccably restored automobiles.
In 1997 the museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums, an award given to only 5% of all museums in the country. Added recognition came in 2005 when the museum was designated a National Historic Landmark joining an exclusive group that includes Mount Vernon and the White House.
The Cords with their Art Deco styling are what first caught our eyes as we entered, the Cords seem to be moving even when standing still and still made me think of rocket ships and science fiction. The L-29 Cord was 11 inches lower than the average production car of its day. This along with a 137 inch wheel base made it a very sleek looking vehicle.
Duesenberg a car for the rich and famous
The Duesenbergs are big, massive and look like they cost a fortune. We don’t remember seeing any as children, they were the automobiles of the rich and famous and Gary Cooper and Clark Cable drove them. The Duesenberg cost $15,000 when a Ford could be bought for $500.
The Auburn’s were the innovator in other ways. We studied one that amused us because it had the first seat back that lay down to create a bed, a solution for the fact that few motels existed in those days and a car that gave you a bed was one solution to getting a good night's rest on the road.
A radiator covered with a cleverly designed front, front wheel drive, and a hood that lifted from the front; all innovations that were copied by other manufacturers. In fact by 1936 Fords and Chevies were taking a stylistic look with curves that while not quite as arty as the Cords and Auburns improved their looks.
These cars still get attention. In 1951 the Museum of Modern Art named the Cord 810 as one of the greatest car designs of all times. This year, 2018, a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ sold for 22 million dollars.
In one of the films at the museum we noted that Jay Leno who is a famous as a classic car collector had some in his collection.
The Museum's Education Department offers schools a variety of study experiences, including science, technology, engineering, artistry and math.
The museum welcomes thousands of students each year including school study trips, scout, and other children’s groups.
Auburn is the center of a great collection of other museums, besides this one there are seven others open to visitors. Among them are The National Auto and Truck Museum, The Hoosier Air Museum, the Garrett Historical Railroad Museum and the Early Ford V-8 Museum.