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The Cheapest Marmon Sixteen!

1931 Marmon Sixteen

The seller of this 1931 Marmon V16 claims it is the cheapest of its kind in the entire world, but then again it is probably the roughest one too! These massive prewar machines are exceptionally rare and as the price would suggest, highly desired. I’m not sure if the seller’s claim is really the best sales tactic for a car like this, but it’s certainly an interesting strategy to take. I guess it caught my attention, but any prewar car with a V16 will do that. It is located in Apple Valley, California and appears to have been parked out in the elements here for a number of years. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of $47k.

Rusty Marmon 16

In the world of ultra-rare prewar classics, cheap and affordable are relative terms. A few years back a project Marmon Sixteen sold for $172k, so this one seems like a bargain. That being said, it is going to take buckets of money to it back on the road. I can only imagine how difficult it will be to locate parts for this, as there were less than 400 built. Not only is it going to take money and time, it’s going to take a lot of knowledge to get everything just right, but in the end you will have a car eligible for just about any Concourse you could ever want to attend!

Marmon 16 Interior

This car really is a piece of engineering brilliance. The Sixteen was awarded for being the most noteworthy automotive accomplishment in 1932 by the Society of Automotive Engineers and that was mostly in recognition of the V16 motor. Marmon had a long history with pioneering technology, with Howard Marmon designing everything from air-cooled V-Twins all the way up to the 491 (that’s 8.0 liters by the way) V16. Marmon began work on the engine in 1927 with the goal of building the first production V16, but the economic downturn kept them from going to production until 1931. The delay gave Cadillac enough time to design their own V16 and beat Marmon to the market.

Marmon V16 Motor

Cadillac might have beaten them to market, but the Marmon still had a lot going for it. It was far more advanced and much of the technology is still being used today. One of Marmon’s greatest advantages was their experience working with aluminum. Yes, the lightweight futuristic alloy was being used on automobiles 80 years ago and there were plenty using it well before that! As a matter of fact, this V16 is made almost entirely of the stuff. To deal with heat and friction issues, the cylinders are sleeved with steel liners. The design proved to be durable and quite powerful, with a total of 200 horses and while torque was never officially released most speculate it was well over 400 foot-pounds!

Marmon Sixteen

Aluminum also made its way into the chassis and some of the body panels. As a result of the use of alloy, these cars were considerably more expensive than their Cadillac counterparts, but they were also lighter. The reduced weight gave them a considerable edge in performance and allowed this massive luxury car to achieve a top speeds of over 100 mph. If you wanted something faster than the Sixteen your only option was Duesenberg, and of course you paid considerably more for one. The alloy construction might have been beneficial when these were new, but it can cause issues when restoring one today. I would suspect there is serious corrosion anywhere steel and aluminum come in contact with each other. The fact it has been left outside for who knows how long only makes things worse.

Marmon 16 in the Desert

This car could be a beautiful piece of road art someday, but it is going to take finding the right owner. I’m sure there are a few Marmon and prewar fans out there that would love to have it! Price typically isn’t an issue for those who collect these cars, but given its current condition and that fact that it has been on the market for a while, it could become a factor. I have no doubt or questions in my mind about the seller’s claim that this really is the cheapest Marmon on the market today. The real question is, will it retain that title after adding all the restoration costs in?


  1. SSMcDonald

    Tragic that this car was allowed to deteriorate this much. Also tragic is the nonsensical $47,000 price tag. Under $10,000 is more in line with what remains of this once fine car.

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  2. Brian

    Yeah, you can still get some nice early 30s Packard, Hudson, Studebaker sedans for $47k or less that, maybe far from perfect, are ready to hit the road and respectable enough at shows. Sure this one is rarer, but alot of missing parts will have to be custom made. No thanks!

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  3. jim s

    if it is worth $47000 it needs to be stored inside under lock not outside where anything can happen to it. if it can not be restored then i am sure someone can use the parts. great find

    Like 1
  4. Dave Wright

    I was high bidder on this car over a year ago on eBay, the guy wouldn’t sell it with the engine……..he said that people always just threw the engines away and made hotrods. I assured him than this car will not become a hotrod. He would not budge…….The engine is the most uneque part of this car…….the entire package is a masterpiece that deserves a high end restoration by a top shop. This really would be a million dollar car. It is in the same league as Dusenburgs and period Mercedes.

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    • Josh Staff

      That is crazy Dave! It doesn’t even make sense to not include the engine. Maybe he thinks he will get more if he splits the two up? I really am struggling with his logic, it just doesn’t make sense. If he doesn’t want it to be made into a hotrod than the motor needs to go with the car, seeing as finding a replacement would be impossible, leaving an engine swap as the only feasible way of getting it on the road. I hope this go around he is going to sell it with the motor!

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    • Jim Nelson

      I’ve inquired about the car several time as well, and you’re right, the guy won’t budge. For my money, he’s missing way too many seriously hard to find parts to make a straightforward restoration possible, so you’re looking at a project that you can’t begin to finish with what you’ve got. Too bad, I’m not chasing it.

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      • Charlie

        The car parts aren’t the only thing missing. I agree with the lot of you. This guy is a few screws loose himself.

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    • Blake

      he’s got 100% rating as an ebay seller. If he welched on a deal over like you report, I would have reported him to ebay and left a negative rating. Good on you for trying to save the poor thing. Wish I had the money, I’d love to get it going again, even as a #2 driver.

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      • Smitty

        You can leave/have negative ratings and still be rated at 100%. That’s one of the reasons people aren’t using eBay as much. They changed the rating system so after a certain period of time, the old stuff goes away.

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    • Debra Smith

      1927 Marmon Little Eight in pieces with additional chassis. The chassis used for parts but my father passed away recently and was never able to restore. One is two door and one is four door. Marmon memorabilia also available. Located in Illinois.

      Like 1
  5. David C

    I’m not sure if it’s worth the 47k but I don’t think the asking price is that far off either. This is a Pebble Beach worthy project. Fantastic car! My pockets aren’t deep enough.

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  6. charles gould

    Respectfully, I disagree. Although the Marmon is an incredible motorcar, and the V16 is the holy grail of Marmons, , this is not on par with the Duesenburgs and Mercedes of the period. First of all, it is, and always will be, a closed four door motorcar. Second, in order to substantiate what this car could be worth, you are looking at a several hundred dollar restoration, and that is if you can source or fabricate all of the missing parts. Although this would be a remarkable project, it may be difficult to avoid getting upside down in this one rather quickly.

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  7. Clay Bryant

    Been advertised for close to a year and a half.

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    • Clay Bryant

      This was in 2014 when it had been on here for 1.5 years. That almost 7 years ago and I saw it advertised (or shown off) years before that…….I remember when the tattered blue covers were still covers instead of dirty “overwear”.

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  8. Tom S.

    The current SCM pocket price guide values this model at $125,000 – $175,000 for a car in #2 condition, described as “better than your average driver, but not national show-level condition”. Do you think a restoration investment of $80,000 – $100,000 would bring this car up to #2 or better condition?

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  9. geomechs geomechs Member

    This would be quite the project, a lot more than I would be willing to tackle. It looks like one would be fabricating the instrument cluster from scratch, and that’s just one thing.

    I find it strange that the car has been listed before but the guy–won’t let the engine go? Man, the engine makes that car. He must not want to sell it that badly.

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  10. MikeG

    I find it so interesting how so many of these kinds of highly sought after treasures are simply left outside to rot. Would it really have been so hard to have towed this car into an enclosed space?

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  11. Rene

    I beleave it could be saved :-)

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  12. Jamie

    That car has been advertised for alot longer than two years………and yes, it is missing a ton of parts. I looked at it in 2010. I believe he has some of the gauges, in an old, old box…..but those as well are not complete. Without the engine, that car is almost worthless. It is a shame that the wrong guy owns this car. If he was serious, he would contact someone other then Ebay…….just fishing really…..and who ever gets on Ebay to research such a car as this? It will never sell…..maybe not on Ebay….but quite possibly never period. Someone will get a deal when this guy goes to the big crazy junk yard in the sky.

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  13. dj

    This car has been on there for a very long time. I think if you threw $100k at it, you’d still be far from complete. It’s a shame this car is like this.

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  14. Dan Strayer

    This guy keeps offering the car for sale and getting no takers. Or he does things like tell buyers they don’t get the engine. It’s too bad this unique automobile isn’t in the hands of someone who appreciates what he has and WANTS to restore it.

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  15. That Guy

    I read some of the seller’s Ebay feedback and it seems at odds with Dave Wright’s experience. He seems to sell a lot of prewar vehicle stuff, and people’s comments are overwhelmingly positive, even mentioning how much they enjoyed visiting his place. In the pictures it looks like some bat-!*%# crazy old dude’s hoarding graveyard, but he does have a long and excellent eBay record.

    So his attitude about this car is a bit mystifying. But in the eBay listing, he does seem pretty specific about saying the price includes the engine, so maybe he has realized his previous strategy wasn’t getting him anywhere and he’s more serious about it this time.

    I also remember seeing this car advertised before. I seem to vaguely recall there was a second, very incomplete example there as well, but maybe I’m mistaken about that.

    These are real connoisseur’s collector cars. Sub-$150K values as mentioned above seem too low to me. Are there any recent actual sales to benchmark against?

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  16. PaulG

    His comment in the ad “Raised the price because I’ve been offered a lot for the engine & trans” is quite the curveball.
    On the other hand, he has a lot of other interesting stuff for sale on E-Bay as well.

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  17. A.J.

    1. The Marmon 16 is a masterpiece, but not a million dollar car.

    2. Same body style, older restoration was sold by a well known dealer about 3 years ago for around 175k.

    3. This car needs 300-400k worth of profession restoration work.

    4. After (3) you may have a 250-300k car.

    Like 1
  18. stillrunners

    Thinking it was in a garage fire at some time…..and bought through auction like that…like most said….little high…..

    Like 0
  19. Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

    The auction ended with no bids. Surprise, surprise.

    Like 0
  20. jim

    I saw this car on E-bay as well. I think it was listed for about 10k till somebody told him what the engine was worth. He ended the listing after that. My uncle has a 32 Marmon V16. It runs n drives. We had it on the road last summer here in MN. It’s not mint but all original.

    Like 0
    • Ed Williams

      Hay Jim!

      How about submitting a picture of your uncle’s car? Love to see a complete one!

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    • Jim

      Got two pics sent. I’ll try to get some better ones soon. Not sure when. The is 100 miles from me.


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  21. DWBlietz

    the gentleman that owns this has his value wheather it realistic or not it is still is his the problem that he is forced with is the people that remember this car are in there 90’s-80’s and if the car was sold 30 yrs ago it wouldn’t be here and could of been someones last hurrah ,hope someone can make a deal it deserves it remember it is a hobby have fun

    Like 0

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