There are seven main galleries displaying the museum’s automobile collection. Each gallery reflects a different piece of the story the museum tells. In addition to these galleries, there are restored Auburn Automobile Company offices along with technology, art, and design exhibits.
Auburns and Cords have always been known for their rakish style and stunning performance. As such, they attracted more than their fair share of attention from the public when they were new. Their eye-catching appearance made these in-vogue automobiles even more appealing to celebrities. The museum’s curatorial department has developed a special exhibit dedicated to the immortals that were owners of some of our favorite vehicles. The staff selected three American heroes of the 1920s and 30s, and cars like the ones they drove, to represent the many notable individuals that enjoyed ownership of the products from the Auburn Automobile Company. The exhibit is located in the Gallery of Excellence and Innovation on the upper level of the museum. The display is set to open on November 19.
Babe Ruth and the 1926 Auburn 8-88 Roadster
Babe Ruth of baseball’s New York Yankees’ “Murderer’s Row” was without a doubt the most famous athlete of his time. In 1926, he was presented with a new Auburn 8-88 Roadster by the magazine “Police Gazette.” Auburn, always on the lookout for publicity, was quick to make this fact known to potential customers. The photograph and caption taken from an original 1926 issue of “The Accelerator” (sent to Auburn dealers) underscores this point.
The museum’s 1926 Auburn 8-88 Roadster is virtually identical to the Babe’s car and will be on display with a life-size cut-out of the “Sultan of Swat,” to provide great photo opportunities for museum visitors.
Amelia Earhart and Her 1937 Cord 812
Few Americans have sparked the imagination of our nation like Amelia Earhart. She was an inspiration to all. Her adventurous spirit and love of aircraft and flying, put her in the world’s spotlight. What better car for her to drive than an aircraft-inspired new Cord. Earhart’s husband, George Putnam, gifted her with a 1937 Cord shortly before her fateful attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
Amelia Earhart proudly displays her new Cord Phaeton next to “The Flying Laboratory” her Lockheed Electra 10E at Purdue University Airport. A life-size cut-out of Ms. Earhart will accompany the exhibit with a Cord Convertible finished in Cigarette Cream, a light-yellow hue. Yellow was her favorite color.
Frank Lloyd Wright and his Cord L-29 Cabriolet
Frank Lloyd Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “The Greatest American Architect of All Time.” He also had a fascination with automobiles, purchasing his first car in 1909, a Stoddard-Dayton roadster. Wright went on to own more than 50 cars until his death in 1959.
He drove many exotic cars as well as some less expensive vehicles. Wright was a fan of the Cord L-29 and owned two during his lifetime. He wrote, “I became a Cord owner because I believe the principle of the front drive to be logical and scientific, therefore, inevitable for all cars. The proportion and lines of the Cord come nearer to expressing the beauty of both science and logic than any other car I have ever seen.” The museum is fortunate to hold one of his Cords in our permanent collection along with Wright’s 1952 Crosley Super Sport Roadster that was in his fleet of small cars.
1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet once owned by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
On October 14, 1933, part of Dillinger’s gang, let by bandits Walter Dietrich and Harry Copeland, robbed the Auburn Police Department, stealing bullet-proof vests, ammunition, and amongst other weapons, a Thompson submachine gun.
The prized piece in the display is the very same Thompson submachine gun. Returned to the Auburn Police Department from the FBI in 2014, police officials decided the best place for public display is at the Museum. Auburn Chief of Police Martin McCoy says, “The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is where this piece of history belongs and we are very happy it is now on display for others to see and enjoy”.
Displayed alongside the submachine gun are period artifacts including a drum barrel, police hat, and a Detroit Free Press newspaper chronicling the theft. The display touches upon the biography of Dillinger, the getaway cars Dillinger used, and the storied history of the submachine gun. Visitors can get their mug shot taken in front of a height chart backdrop while holding a mug shot placard.
Step back in time and enjoy the display of Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs of the classic era (1925 – 1937) in their magnificent Art Deco Company Showroom! Walk across the terrazzo floor, lit by Art Deco chandeliers and sconces that highlight the elegance, beauty, and depth of this impressive space, just as it did in 1930. Browse among these classic cars, rich in history, technological innovation, luxury and beauty, a combination that defined the Auburn Automobile Company.
During the Auburn Automobile Company’s heyday, this Showroom was filled with the latest Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs along with several other products sold by the Cord Corporation, Auburn Automobile Company’s parent organization.
As you browse through the original Art Deco Showroom, you will experience the golden age of motoring in the 1930s. Dealers from the United States, its territories, and 99 countries could visit this showroom to select products to sell in their local regions all over the world.
This gallery is committed to the WOW factor! It includes spectacular automobiles from Full Classics™ (1928 through 1948) to comparisons, contrasts, and evolutions of the automotive world including those built by the Auburn Automobile Company and Duesenberg, Inc., their contemporaries, and their competition.
The term Full Classic™ is specific to a group of automobiles representing the highest quality of construction, design, and performance. Both domestic and foreign makes are listed under this prestigious designation created by the Classic Car Club of America.
A century ago hundreds of automobile makes and manufacturers of auto components dotted the Indiana landscape. The State of Indiana continues to be an important part of America’s automotive industry. Displayed in this gallery are rare and unusual vehicles built in the Hoosier state.
This area of the building was once used by the Auburn Automobile Company as its main drafting room and records department.
On display are Auburns from 1904 to 1924, located where the cost and purchasing departments once resided along with a portion of the blueprint room.
You will see Auburns designed and created before E.L. Cord’s arrival to the Auburn Automobile Company. The gallery theme is reminiscent of a 1924 Auburn sales showroom as seen in the wall mural on the north side of the gallery. The experience of what it must have been like to purchase an Auburn car in the 1920s is illustrated throughout the gallery and in its video presentation.
See the beginning of horseless transportation by the Auburn Automobile Company at the turn of the Century.
These domestic and foreign vehicles represent milestones of automotive advancement. Each automobile is significant in at least one of four areas: luxury, design, performance, or ties to the Auburn Automobile Company.
This portion of the building was once used by the Auburn Automobile Company’s engineering department and includes two “dead level” terrazzo floors that were used for accurate alignment of the chassis and the measurement of various automobile components. With frequent rotation of display cars, there is always something new to see.
Gallery sponsored by Steel Dynamics, Inc.
No fewer than 11 different brands of motorcars were produced in Auburn, Indiana. Even on the local scene, Auburn Automobile Company had formidable competition. These were some of the first horseless carriages.
This gallery space, once the home of the Auburn Automobile Company sales department, places you in the early part of the 20th century. It includes photo murals that depict scenes from the city of Auburn and its local automobile factories.
Auburn’s Export Department, headed by Robert Wiley, had dealers located in 93 countries and U. S. Territories throughout the world. Domestic Sales were directed by Neil McDarby. By 1930, new dealerships were added at the rate of five per day.
Located in the original area of the building occupied by the Export Department, visitors see Mr. Wiley’s office and many personal effects.
Gallery sponsored by Terence E. Adderley
Race cars are exciting to watch, and even more exciting to drive. Powerful, loud, dangerous, and fast, their history is as old as the desire to compete, win, and be the best. The rigors imposed by the discipline of competition have challenged car designers and car building in ways that cannot be duplicated. Only the best automobile could stand up to the grueling punishment of the race track, finish the race, and beat all the others.
Many of the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg mechanical innovations and avant-garde designs can be traced directly to their rich racing histories. Duesenberg dominated Indianapolis racing throughout its first decades. All three marques’ trials, triumphs, and tribulations, many on the raceway, led to passenger cars offering innovations and designs that are still revered to this day.
Without a doubt, race cars have made the passenger cars of today safer, more reliable, and better performing. Racing helped set the standard for innovative engineering. Perhaps you will look at your car in a new way. And maybe, you will thank a racer!
Woodworking and experimental engineering took place in this section of the building.
Gallery sponsored by Raisbeck Engineering
Gain a fuller understanding of how the Auburn Automobile Company and Duesenberg, Inc. were responsible for many patented innovations that are still on the cars driven today including hydraulic brakes, X-frame chassis construction, front wheel drive, and retractable headlights. Physical and digital interactive exhibits teach how automobile components work. Learn about the technologies and engineering personalities that brought these forward-thinking ideas to consumers in the 1920s and 1930s.
In the 1930s, this area of the building was home to Auburn Automobile Company’s accounting department.
Gallery sponsored by: Alcoa Foundation, E. L. Cord Foundation, and the Charles and Barbara Goodman Foundation
The innovative techniques that Buehrig and his design team utilized to create a masterpiece, the Cord 810, are showcased. The creative process of component design at Auburn Automobile Company, such as speedometers and wheel hubs, is shown.
The last automobiles manufactured carried the 1937 model year. Company records were destroyed in bulk the following year. No designs for the 1938 model year were known to exist . . . until 2003 when Auburn Automobile Company Designer Paul Reuter-Lorenzen’s portfolio was discovered in a garage in Pennsylvania! Depictions of the 1938 design renderings are shown in this gallery of design.
This area of the building was used by the advertising and the traffic departments.
Gallery sponsored by Sandra and Gene Davenport
Automotive artwork from original designer renderings to modern watercolor. The gallery displays artwork from many notable designers of classic cars such as Gordon Buehrig, Alan Leamy, Herb Newport, Frank Hershey, and Paul Reuter-Lorenzen. Works from present day artists including Tom Hale, Lory Lockwood, and David McIntosh are also exhibited.
Located in the executive hallway, the corporate conference room is where sales meetings, dealer and distributor conferences, departmental meetings, and general meetings were held.
From Cord’s office, he made his important business decisions concerning the Auburn Automobile Company, Duesenberg, Inc. and his far reaching transportation conglomerate called Cord Corporation.
From his office window in the northeast corner of the third floor, Cord could oversee the nearby automobile plant, located on 23 acres.
The advertising campaigns used to promote Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs were as fantastic as the automobiles themselves. The company was one of the first to sell a lifestyle with its automobiles.