Film Friday: Auburn Speedster tackles the Bonneville Salt FlatsFri, 25 Apr 2014
Inspired by a recent trip to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Ind. (more to come on that soon!), we're diving into the historical film archives for some A-C-D goodness. And it doesn't really get any better than vintage footage of the classic Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster tearing up the Bonneville Salt Flats circa 1935 followed by a demonstration of the big Duesenberg streamliner, “The Mormon Meteor” thundering across the lake bed.
There's an automotive safety disclaimer at the beginning (the 1930s equivalent of “professional driver, closed course,” perhaps) and a staged conversation between some Auburn brass -- not to mention the brief backgrounder on Utah's Mormon heritage -- but the Salt Flats action starts around the eight-minute mark.
Legendary driver Ab Jenkins is Auburn's wheelman for this endurance demonstration. Previously, we saw Jenkins take to the flats in a fenderless Pierce Arrow for a 24-hour endurance run; this time, his ride is a is a stock Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster powered by a supercharged straight-eight.
High-speed performance was always the goal of the 851 Speedster: Each car leaving the factory bore a dash plaque certifying that it had been driven in excess of 100 mph by Jenkins. The goal of this endurance run was to push things even further, driving for at least 1,000 miles, at least 100 mph.
The second half of the film focuses on several straightline runs in the massive the “Mormon Meteor.” As impressive as this monster is in person, it's something else to see it in action – even if the vintage film isn't exactly high definition.
Did Ab, and his Auburn and Duesenberg, succeed? You'll have to watch to find out. But this wouldn't be much of a promotional reel if man and machine didn't perform as intended.
Also note the airplanes seen in some of the film's shots. They aren't mentioned by name, but we suspect they're Stinsons -- the aircraft manufacturer was, along with Auburn, one of the many arms of E.L. Cord's transportation empire.
By Graham Kozak