Live Auctions

Needs Finishing: 1931 Auburn Boat Tail

1931 Auburn Speedster

Alright, so this isn’t a genuine factory built boat tail speedster, but it is a genuine Auburn! This car started life as a 8-89 Cabriolet, but when it was found by the seller it was in rough shape. They had been looking for a speedster, but hadn’t had any luck finding one. So they decided a cabriolet would have to do. They just happened to come across a real boat tail body a few years later, so they decided to turn their rough cabrio into a speedster. The bodies were swapped out and all the body work completed in preparation for paint. Sadly, they aren’t going to be able to finish it, so you can find this project here on eBay in Star, Idaho.

1931 Auburns

I know this one won’t ever be worth as much as a real boat tail speedster, but finding a genuine one of those won’t be easy or cheap. Having a genuine boat tail body is a plus, but I kind of wish the seller had kept the original body in case you decided to return it to a cabriolet.

1931 Auburn Chassis

This car is still going to need considerable work before it will be show ready. No mention on the engine’s condition is given, just that they believe it is original and that it doesn’t run. Getting it running might be as simple as a fluid change and a tune up or it might need a complete rebuild. Let’s just hope it is the original Lycome that came with the cabriolet.

1931 Auburn Project

While I’d rather have a genuine speedster, for the money, this is the route I would go. It won’t ever be worth as much as the real thing, but will still be desirable and absolutely breathtaking once completed! As a matter of fact, I’d rather have this one so I can drive and enjoy it. How about you?


  1. Rich

    This is the way to go. You get the best of both worlds. An authentic bodied Auburn that you can drive without too much worry.

  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Nice car! Way out of my budget but I think it’s worth it. There’s a guy in our antique car circuit who has driven his (’35) to antique meets from Spokane to Saskatoon SK in Canada. That’s a haul; I’ve done it myself. He had a head crack on him in Kalispell (4) years ago and had to trailer it home. But he got it right back on the road. Horse bucks you off; you gotta get right back on…

  3. A.J.

    Beware the use of the word “authentic” to describe the body. I do not believe that is a real 1931 Auburn built body. If it was he would publish the body number and the wood wouldn’t be so nice and new.

    • Francisco

      Who else, besides Auburn, would build a steel speedster body. Really, I’d like to know

      • A.J.

        There have been steel bodies built. Remember, a real V12 speedster (of which there are very very few that are 100% verifiable back to new) is worth 800k plus. When selling a speedster, 35/36 or the earlier ones like this it is 100% on the seller to prove the authenticity of the car or you can assume that there are shenanigans going on. That body should have a number stamped in the sill plates and wood. It would be interesting to know what it is.

      • Francisco

        Are you saying, A.J., that there have been steel bodies built by hand? These in themselves must be valuable in their own right, given the craftsmanship and time to produce them.

      • Dave Wright

        The boat tail design was popular in the 30’s. Many coach builders made them for there customers on various chassis. Auburn was actually one of the less exotic makers that produced them.

    • Dan10

      Go to the ebay add where it clearly states “correct coach built boat tail body out of a estate sale from a ACD club member”, in fact he states first that this is NOT a factory boat tail.

      • A.J.

        Can you change the words in an ad after it is up? I swear it said “authentic” instead of “correct” which clearly means rebody.

  4. charlie Member

    Went to the Petersen Museum in LA on Sunday. A large percentage, maybe 20% of the really exotic cars have been “rebodied” and are worth 6 or 7 figures. Race cars, customs, luxury cars, even Eisenhower’s presidential limo (Chrysler Imperial dual cowl open car) had the body swapped out to look more modern.

    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      The car in question started out as a 1952 Imperial dual-cowl, one of 3 built [One each for NYC and LA, the 3rd car was to be an official White House parade car, but was refused by the Government for reasons unknown to me.] Chrysler kept it in Detroit as a promotional car. The NYC & LA cars are still owned by their respective cities.

      The car in the Petersen museum was the Detroit version. I remember riding in it with the owner [Paul Stern, a serious Mopar collector], and one time when I was about 17, Mr Stern actually let me drive the car to a local W. P. Chrysler Club show, so he could take several cars. That one drive got me hooked on the 55/56 Imperials, and at one time I owned one of the actual 55 Imperial Crown limousines used by the White House. I also had the 56 Imperial assembled in Paris by Facel, for the Paris auto show. The 354 Hemi engine in the Paris car had 3 head gaskets per cylinder head, to lower the compression ratio due to the poor grade of fuel in France. That car was my everyday transportation in the mid 1970’s in Europe, I paid 300 DM for it, a little over $100, and I drove it back to the base. Drove it over 30,000 Km and it was very reliable. The biggest problem was finding tires for it!

  5. A.J.

    There is a difference between a body swapped in period and one done recently.

  6. Chuck Foster Chuck F 55chevy

    These are cool looking boattails, but for the money I would rather get a boat tail 36 Auburn replica, unless I had more money that I knew what to do with, then I could afford a nice one of these. I used to live in Auburn IN as a 3 year old, and spent many Labor Day weekends at the ACD Festival and collector car auction, but not since moving to Florida 13 years ago.

    • Dave Wright

      Plastic junk could never compare with this car……even not being a factory built orignal.

  7. Mark S

    I’m confused what was the point of switching the bodies on the two cars were they not both Auburns. If they they were and the bodies got traded then would not both of them be none authentic and there by rendering them both less valuable. Can someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Dave Wright

      Changing coach work on cars is am old tradition. Many fine auto makers didn’t even build bodies. An Auburn sedan even an original one will never compre to the value of this boat tail car when completed. It seems to have decent provonaunce and is well documented. Have you seen the rebodied Mercedes 550 on eBay for 2 million…….it is probably 5 million cheeper than a true orignal but 1.5 million more than the donor Mercedes.

      • Mark S

        So what was wrong with he chassie and drive train that the boat tail body was originally bolted to. It looks like from the pic’s to be an auburn too. Was there something special about the cabriolet chassie engine that I’m not seeing? I’m interested in what you have to say about that Dave.

      • A.J.

        Don’t confuse bespoke (custom coachwork) bodies built in period with hobbyist swapping bodies 30-60 years later. Two different things and the sale price differential is 20x for the former vs the later.

        Also, you say “decent provenance” yet I see zero provenance so I’m wondering if I missed something?

  8. Roselandpete

    I’d like to see it when it’s finished.

  9. Kent Pearson

    great find! Would kill someone for it.

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