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Aside from the fact that beauty is subjective, a few cars throughout time are unanimously agreed upon as beautiful designs; the Jaguar E-Type, Ferrari 250 GTO, and the ‘57 Chevy. These models just work. When they cross our gaze, there is an automatic response of pleasure. That said, there is another vintage car that should not only be on that list but should probably top it. Feast your eyes on the most beautiful American car ever made, the 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster. 

1935 Auburn 851 Speedster
1935 Auburn 851 Speedster | Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

What is the most beautiful American car ever made? 

The 1930s were a hard time for American automakers. Prohibition was still happening until ‘33, and the effects of WWI still echoed in the distance. Still, most importantly for high-end carmakers, The Great Depression sent the country into financial ruin. Yet, somehow, during this time, some of the finest cars to ever be built rolled off of factory floors. The finest of them all may well have been the Auburn 851 Speedster. The Auburn Supercharged Speedster convinced approximately 143 sales over its short run, including the 851 and 852 models. However, the company would quickly succumb to the Great Depression and file for bankruptcy by 1937.

The Auburn Speedster 

The rear end of a black Auburn Speedster, common thoght of as the most beautiful American car ever made.
1935 Auburn 851 Speedster | Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

According to Silodrome, Aubrun opened a shop in 1900 in Auburn, Indiana. The once-carriage builder turned to the automobile industry and built a wide range of beautiful cars. While Aubrun is most well known for its luxury models, the company also built many affordable sedans. However, by the 1920s, the firm focused on making mostly high-performance luxury cars. 

The first Auburn Speedster rolled off the factory floor in 1925. This insanely stylish car drew its power from a 4.5-liter side-valve straight-eight Lycoming engine. According to Silodrome, the 4.5-liter made the Speedster a fast car by the day’s standard. Even in the 1920s, cash could be hard to come by for many Americans. But it was a smash hit for those who could afford an Auburn Speedster. Auburn had to continually update and improve on the Speedster in order to remain competitive; in 1926, the engine was upgraded from 4.5 to 4.8 liters, and by the 1930s, it was producing 115 bhp. Despite eventually graduating to a V12, the Speedster struggled to sell as the Great Depression tightened its grasp on America. 

The most beautiful car in America

Vintage ad for the Auburn Speedster
Auburn Speedster | Auburn

The Auburn 851 Speedster was the pinnacle of the Auburn line. The V12 was too expensive, so Aubrun returned to its Lycoming straight-eight. The 851 not only ditched the V12, but it also got a new body design from Gordon Buehrig that was painfully beautiful. Although the 851’s body was an updated version of the old one, its new fenders and other new body parts came together to make one of the finest automotive silhouettes ever conceived. 

The Auburn 851 Speedster got a beautiful new body, an optional Schweitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger that boosted power output to 150 bhp, and a Columbia dual-ratio rear axle that combined with the three-speed transmission to effectively offer six forwards gears and two reverse gears. Amazingly, this new performance Auburn 851 Speedster could top 100 mph. 

Auburn only ever sold 143 examples. This is why the most beautiful American car ever made is so rare.