Any way you look at it, Auburn, Indiana is a great destination.
In June 2017, the Great Race planned a stop for the night in Auburn, Indiana. That seemed a good excuse to visit one of my favorite places, the Auburn Co rd Duesenberg Museum. The museum lives in the restored headquarters of the Auburn Automobile Company. Auburn automobiles ended in 1937. The corporate showroom is still one of the great Art Deco spaces in the world, thanks both to the design of the room and the cars it contains. I arrived with hours to spare before racers crossed the finish line, which gave me ample time to photograph the museum and then witness the race. Follow me through these images of automotive grace and grit.
Entrance to the showroom is from the side and back of the room, where a Duesenberg touring car acts as greeter.
The space unfolds quietly, enticingly without the glare or blare of less sophisticated museums. The car behind the pillar is a '27 Duesenberg with a boattail butt you'll see in the next photo.
1927 Duesenberg speedster.
This hot number is a 1931 Cord L29. You'll get a look at the chassis in the next photo. Let's go upstairs for a second.
The museum has this L29, bare chassis on the third floor in the Hall of Technology. The Hall of Technology was the Auburn accounting department. The L29 used front wheel drive. You can see the transmission mounted ahead of the engine. If you're a Chrysler person, you'll aslo notice the decidedly non-Floating Power method of construction.
The hot L29 leads us to a gray Auburn . . .
. . . which points to a creamy Auburn . . .
. . . which gazes back at the '27 Duesenberg. The flow among the cars is beautiful, and the room is always framing the automobiles to their advantage.
It's unusual to see an open Auburn with the top up and side curtains in place. This is a 1935 Auburn 851 speedster.
At last, I got a photo that does the museum justice.
Now we've stepped behind the showroom into the former Experimental, Engineering and Design Wing. It's now the Gallery of Special Interest Automobiles, where you can have your picture taken in this 1916 Dodge Brothers touring car. I sat in it. Comfy.
I suspect the existence of a fellow Chrysler sympathizer in the bureaucracy of the ACD Museum. First the Dodge, and now this stunning 1933 Chrysler Imperial CL roadster by LeBaron. Sad that it's back here in the dark, but this is the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, not the Chrysler Museum. What a thing it would be if this Imperial could be displayed in the old Chrysler Corporation showroom at the Chrysler Building in Manhattan! I can see it on the turn-table behind the invisible glass now
Spare tire cover detail on the Imperial.
Please DO call it a Chrysler Imperial.
Trunk space, for weekend getaways.
I think the '33 Chrysler Imperial is the prettiest car in the museum.
More evidence of a Chrysler conspiracy at the Auburn. This 1937 Chrysler Airflow coupe is, quite rightly, part of an exhibit about streamlining.
And here's Walter Chrysler himself. I believe the photo on the right was taken at his office in the aforementioned Chrysler Building. Onward, to the upstairs!
A few years ago, the ACD museum built a modern addition on the former courtyard of the building. This 1930 Cord L29 is in the Gallery of Excellence on the third floor of the addition.
The museum does a good job of covering Indiana automotive history aside from Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg. Here's a pretty 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Studebaker headquratered out of South Bend, Indiana.
Not a product of Indiania, the 1930 Ruxton was a Cord-like attempt to build a front wheel drive car. Cute, but doomed from the start.
The third floor contains original office space, including the conference room. When I entered, I remembered Zero, the “Rollerball” (1975) supercomputer saying, “Corporate decisions are made by corporate executives. Corporate executives make corporate decisions.”
Corporate decisions probably were made here, too.
In addition to being a celebrity driver for DeSoto Division, Peter DePaolo raced from the Duesenberg team. According to the story board, the little shoes belonged to DePaolo's son, Tommy. DePaolo tied the shoes to the front springs of his car for good luck
1932 Studebaker President in the former drafting room.
We're back downstairs and standing beside a 1932 Duesenberg.
The crowd has gathered outside. It's time to inspect the Great Race.
Before we get to the race, the parking lot contained a few interesting scenes. Here's "T" time.
On the Day of Judgment, all FireDome and Fireflite Hemi engines shall arise from the hot rods that yanked them, and be restored to their respective DeSotos in righteous glory.
The Great Race finish line (for the day) outside the front of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.
Great Race participant #75, a 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible, driven by Shelbie Buchanan with navigator Ashleigh Powell. The tailfins surely increase driving accuracy over the race course.
Raylly gear. Notice that the Plymouth's speedometer and odometer are covered with tape.
Race car #30, a 1918 American Lafrance speedster, groans into the parking area.
I think that this is car #1, a 1916 Hudson speedster.
Powered by Chrysler, car #68, a 1973 Jensen Interceptor.
An Auburn in Auburn, a 1931 boattail speedster.
Car #2, a modified 1932 Ford roadster.
Car #56, a 1933 Ford Speedster.
Lady spectator with red flower.
Here's something you don't see every day, a 1960 Fiat Multipla - sort of a precursor to the modern minivan.
This has to be a hard ride, a 1946 Dodge WD20.
This 1949 Chrysler Royal club coupe passed by in normal traffic.
I was delighted to catch the center brake lights of the '49 Chrysler in action. The car moved with confidence.
1950 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe.
Parked on the street near the finish line, a rare AMC AMX. Perhaps someone can identify if it's a '68, '69 or '70.
When this 1964 Ford police cruiser pulled in singing the "Mayberry" theme, I called it quits. I hope all the Great Race participants made it to Traverse City, Michigan, their final destination. Thanks for looking.