1933 Marmon Sixteen Victoria CoupeSOLD

RM Auctions - Automobiles of London - October 31, 2007

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Estimate: 125,000£-175,000£
Estimate: €182,000 - €254,000
Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of £122.925

From the Collection of Mr. Bernie Ecclestone

200bhp, 8,030cc overhead valve V-16 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with leaf springs, live rear axle with leaf springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 145in. (3,683mm).

Howard Marmon was by all accounts a brilliant engineer. Having built his first motor car in 1902 at the age of 23, his long-tailed Marmon Wasp won the Indianapolis 500 nine years later at the Brickyard’s very first race. The formidable reputation of Marmon’s cars was further solidified over the course of 50 additional racing victories in only two years.

However, financial success did not come so easily. A road-going version of the Marmon Wasp, dubbed Model 49, proved to be an excellent car, but at $5,000 apiece, sales remained rather stagnant. Moderate success followed in 1916 with the Model 34, which featured a host of innovative features, most notably the most extensive use of aluminium to date. In fact, much of the car, including the radiator, transmission, rear axle, and body were constructed from the metal.

World War I sidelined most automotive projects as Marmon, along with many other motor car manufacturers, contributed to the war effort. After producing over 5,000 Liberty aircraft engines and surviving the war financially reinvigorated, Marmon resumed production of its Model 34, but quickly found itself affected by the post-war recession.

Finally, in 1925, Howard’s brother resigned as president of the company, making way for George M. Williams, an astute businessman who envisioned a profitable future of more affordable Marmon cars that would lay the foundation for the company’s recovery. The resultant Roosevelt model was much more affordable, albeit relatively underpowered by its inline eight-cylinder engine. By the late 1920s, sales had increased dramatically and the company was producing more than 20,000 cars per year.

Howard Marmon was not satisfied; driven by a desire to leave his own automotive legacy, he began work on the project that would fulfil this dream. The Marmon Sixteen, completed in 1931, represented his greatest and most impressive automotive vision. With bodies built by LeBaron and a state-of-the-art overhead valve engine that displaced over 8 litres, the Marmon Sixteen produced 200 horsepower, and was capable of 100-mph top speeds. A triumph of pattern-making and foundry technology, the Sixteen’s all-aluminium engine construction harkened back to the legendary Model 34. Much of the chassis was aluminium as well, giving the Sixteen an unmatched power-to-weight ratio. In fact, the car actually out-accelerated the legendary Duesenberg Model J, while costing just one-third as much.

Although credit for the Sixteen's styling is often given to Walter Dorwin Teague, it was in fact his son who penned the beautiful lines that ultimately entered production. A student at MIT, Walter Jr was a gifted designer who envisioned a sleek and graceful car, completely devoid of gratuitous ornamentation, and characterized by simple shapes with bold belt lines, low rooflines, and a raked windscreen.

Unfortunately, timing would be the undoing of the amazing Marmon Sixteen. Cadillac’s V-16 beat Marmon to the market by almost two years. Without a deep-pocketed backer like General Motors, the writing was on the wall, and the end came quietly in 1933. As the swansong of the Marmon Motor Company, the Sixteen remains among the marque’s most desirable models.

The Marmon Sixteen presented here is a one of only 33 V-16 examples produced in Marmon’s final year of production. Restored to exceptional show quality by Bob Mosier, the car was honoured in 1995 with a First Place award in the Primary Division at the Classic Car Club of America’s Summer Grand Classic. The Sixteen’s owner, Larry Harvey, subsequently sold the car to Bernie Ecclestone, who imported it to the United Kingdom in 1996, where it has remained in the same, virtually perfect condition ever since.

The two-tone grey paint is highlighted by red pinstriping and remains in superb overall condition. The fitting of the body panels is generally perfect throughout and the chrome plating is of the same show quality, particularly on the radiator shell and on the headlights, wherein the engraving and wording are crystal clear. Proper 16-inch Marmon split-rim wheels match the pinstriping and have been equally well restored.

The same calibre of excellent, professional restoration is apparent in the interior, where the finish on the dash and instrumentation is exceptional, down to the crisp detailing of the choke, park, and throttle levers. The woodwork is finished with a perfect and deep, rich gloss while the upholstery is generally of the same superb quality. The odometer reads 1,619 miles, which might very well represent the mileage since restoration.

The engine bay, meanwhile, is in very good condition and, short of a thorough cleaning, remains of concours quality. The undercarriage was likewise completely cleaned and repainted and generally exhibits the same level of detail as the exterior.

A testament to its excellent, award-winning restoration, this Sixteen reportedly runs and drives extremely well. These cars are regarded as the hot rods of the classic era, and with good reason. Powerful and light, they were quick and agile, and a more enjoyable American classic to drive is difficult to imagine. With only 36 cars of all body styles produced, we can safely say that this must certainly be the finest example of its kind extant.

Reference Number 11531

as of 7/22/2007

Car 1933 Marmon Sixteen Victoria Coupe
VIN 16143907 
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