Throwback Thursday: The Auburn Automobile Company

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

 DeKalb County has several ties to the early automobile industry, but we haven’t yet done a post on the most well-known automobile manufacturer from the area: the Auburn Automobile Company.

1903 Auburn

Like many early automobile companies, Auburn had roots in the buggy business, having originally been created as an extension of the Eckhart Carriage Company in 1902 (not 1900, as their logos after 1917 claim!)

Their earliest models were single-cylinder cars with a “buggy-like” design. By 1907, the company was making two-, four-, and six-cylinder models; windshields, tops, and headlights were optional, and could be added for an extra fee.

1912 Auburn

As the company grew, they strove to design cars that were well-made, beautiful, and affordable, too. They frowned on cutting corners or creating “experimental” cars at their customers’ expense.

A 1913 Auburn catalog puts it like this: “. . . there are two ways of making an article distinctive—by making it a freak, or by giving it quality. Quality gives it distinction; and that is the way the ‘Auburn’ is made.”

1920 Auburn

In the ’20s, E. L. Cord became Vice President, General Manager, and then owner. The Auburn Automobile Company also made several acquisitions, including Duesenberg, Inc., of Indianapolis. The first eight-cylinder car—the 8-88—was introduced in the ’20s, along with the L-29 Cord, the first front-wheel drive vehicle to be offered to the public.

Auburn Super Charger

It wouldn’t last forever. By 1932, the Great Depression began to take its toll on the company. A 1954 issue of Motor Trend suggested that the company’s focus on the Cord L-29 probably didn’t help, because of “the public’s reluctance to buy a car they thought was an experiment.” Intriguing designs—like the Supercharged Auburns and the Cord 810—were introduced, but sales continued to drop.

No Auburns were made in 1937, and the company closed its doors, but the cars and their history are still celebrated at the ACD Museum in Auburn.

You can check out the museum’s display on the Women Workers of the Auburn Automobile Company here at the Willennar Genealogy Center from now until the end of December.

Want to see more from our collections? Check out our online photo database! Feel free to visit the Genealogy Center’s official Facebook page, too.


About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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