1929 Ruxton Model C RoadsterSOLD

One of Only Four Ruxton Roadsters in Existence

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ESTIMATE: $400,000 - $500,000

$423,500 Sold

One of Only Four Ruxton Roadsters in Existence

100 hp, 269 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual front wheel drive transaxle, deDion front suspension with leaf springs, live axle rear suspension with leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 130"

About 500 Ruxtons are thought to have been built, most of them at the Moon factory in St. Louis and a very few at the well-equipped Kissel factory in Hartford, Wisconsin which also made the Ruxton ’ s front wheel drive transaxle. The Ruxton was a thoughtful and innovative automobile, low and streamlined with a hood top that was barely higher than the fenders over its 19 ” front wheels. The roof of the sedan, designed by Budd ’ s Joseph Ledwinka, was only 5 feet 3 inches high. Ruxton ’ s premature demise denied American automobile history a ground-breaking design that could have revolutionized the industry ’ s technical direction.

During the twenties it was common practice for the industry ’ s body building contractors like Budd and Briggs to create concept cars. Intended to promote the bodybuilders to manufacturers, they demonstrated the companies ’ capabilities and suggested innovations that the manufacturers, with big investments in design and tooling, might not otherwise have given serious consideration.

The Ruxton was conceived by William J. Muller, a development engineer at Budd, (which would go on to pioneer all-steel body construction in a similar innovation) to demonstrate the advantages and versatility of front wheel drive. Design began in 1926 and was completed late in 1928. The prototype was based on a proprietary chassis with a six-cylinder Studebaker engine and Warner gearbox. It isn ’ t known which, if any, manufacturers were shown the Budd prototype but it is known that Budd brought this distinctive sedan to New York in early 1929 where its low profile, a good ten inches lower than the sleekest of its contemporaries, created widespread interest. Its effect wasn ’ t diminished by the stylish radiator emblem created for it by Budd: an oval with “ ? ” in its center.

New York in early 1929 was a promoter ’ s dream. Money was everywhere. Speculation, manipulation and syndicates were the order of the day. These were the circumstances and the atmosphere under which Budd ’ s front wheel drive prototype appeared in New York City. It was spotted by a promoter named Archie M. Andrews who was captivated by the Budd prototype ’ s appearance and quickly put together a syndicate, New Era Motors, Inc., to build it, hiring Muller to complete the design for production.

The “ ? ” was replaced by “ Ruxton ” . William V.C. Ruxton was an influential financier, a partner in Spencer, Trask & Company and a governor of the New York Stock Exchange. Andrews may have gotten a better tee time at the Greenwich Country Club by naming his car after Ruxton – but he never got an investment.

Muller ’ s finalized design was even better than the Budd prototype and it was completed almost unbelievably quickly, by the beginning of August, only months after the April formation of New Era Motors. In this time Muller effected a complete repackaging of the drivetrain, incorporating a Continental 18S straight eight and moving the engine ’ s mass forward for better weight distribution. This was accomplished by splitting the transmission, placing low and reverse in front of the differential, second and third behind it and using worm drive instead of crown and pinion gearing. An I-beam solid axle joined the front wheels, which used Spicer u-joints.

Compared with its only front wheel drive competitor, Cord ’ s L-29 introduced in late 1929, the Ruxton was lower, lighter and better balanced. It had much lower unsprung weight, giving it better ride and handling. No matter what the Ruxton ’ s advantages, however, Cord had its own manufacturing plant and an established dealer/distribution network.

Lack of distribution and financial manipulations in the wake of the Wall Street crash doomed Ruxton. It was, by all reports, well engineered, built to a high standard and Muller ’ s transaxle avoided the shortcomings of the Cord L-29. Had a major manufacturer with an established dealer network adopted the Ruxton design it might have demonstrated its quality and performance with smashing success. That didn ’ t happen and today few of these extraordinarily well-engineered and attractive automobiles survive.

Over the years, Ruxtons began to diminish in numbers. Their relative anonymity within the large-scale production market didn ’ t help their cause, either. While no single exact tally exists on the Ruxton total production run, it appears that no more than 500 models were built over their three year construction at all of the combined factories and today only a handful are known to exist. The survival of most of the Ruxton motor cars in existence today is owed largely to collector and motoring enthusiast D. Cameron Peck, who accumulated as many Ruxtons as possible in the forties and fifties, saving the marque from the scrap metal drives of a war torn American automobile industry.

The example offered here, formerly part of the S. Ray Miller Collection, has had a long and established history, with its ownership largely traced and known from new. Conversations with Ruxton aficionado Mr. Jack Donlan revealed that this Ruxton was an early production model assembled in Philadelphia, PA at the Edward Board Company facility. Mr. Donlan indicated that at the time, approximately 12 cars were built for the New York Auto Show.

The Ruxton is believed to have been originally owned by Archie Andrews ’ dentist. The car eventually found its way into the D. Cameron Peck Collection and was later sold to Mr. Al Baker of Battle Creek, Michigan, who traded a Stutz against the car to facilitate its purchase. Mr. Baker owned the Ruxton for many years and eventually sold it to Ann Arbor resident Mr. Calvin Zahn. While under Mr. Zahn ’ s ownership, the Ruxton received a frame-off restoration which returned the car to its magnificent original condition. Mr. Zahn retained ownership of the Ruxton until the mid-1980s, at which point it was sold to Ypsilanti, Michigan resident Mr. Dick Slusser. Slusser then sold the Ruxton to noted collector and motoring enthusiast, Mr. William Lassiter of Florida.

The Ruxton remained in the collection of Bill Lassiter for several years until S. Ray purchased the car upon seeing an ad in Hemmings Motor News. At the time the Ruxton was in very complete, presentable, restored condition and was finished in two-tone bronze and gold. After purchasing the Ruxton in 1988, S. Ray and Linda Miller decided that a full restoration of the Ruxton was in order and that the Roadster, with its stunning sweeping fenders, disc wheels and low slung coachwork, was also the perfect template to demonstrate some of the most extraordinary colors of the period. Together with LaVine Restorations, S. Ray and Linda decided that the Ruxton would be most impressive in the color scheme of light raspberry with orchid trim and beltlines, taupe accenting, wheels and interior with a bold, black low-slung top.

LaVine Restorations of Nappanee, Indiana embarked on a full restoration of the Ruxton that took several years to complete and resulted in an additional financial investment in excess of $300,000. Accordingly, its condition is truly impressive and show worthy in every respect. All the while, even prior to the restoration, the Ruxton received routine maintenance and upkeep as it was a favorite of S. Ray and Linda ’ s even before it received its new life in the raspberry and orchid paint scheme.

The Ruxton is accompanied by a full dossier of information, invoices, articles and photos highlighting the car ’ s history and restoration and is complete with all of its concours trophies and awards. Some of these awards include a Classic Car Club of America First Junior, First Senior and subsequently a perfect 100 point score at the Indiana Grand Classic. In addition to the CCCA events, the Ruxton also toured the AACA show circuit regularly, achieving numerous wins including the national award for “ The Rare and Most Unusual Car ” . It also took home several National First Prizes including one in Hershey in 1997. The Ruxton was successfully shown at Meadow Brook Hall and even won Best of Show at the Ault Park Concours d ’ Elegance in 1999.

The current gentleman owner purchased the Ruxton from the 2004 auction of the S. Ray Miller Collection. Following the purchase the car was once again sent to Eric and Vivian LaVine ’ s shop for a complete mechanical freshening, as it had sat on display for much of the last decade. While at LaVine Restorations the Ruxton ’ s mechanical condition was brought up to par with its cosmetic condition and accordingly, we understand it is a very fit running example that the next owners will be able to enjoy immediately. As a former 100 point example, the car remains virtually flawless and reflects the care of its current owner as much as its previous one.

Without question, the 1929 Ruxton Model C Roadster we have the pleasure of offering here is one of the most unique, entrancing and remarkable motor cars from the classic era - bar none. Its styling is completely unique unto itself, and the Miller Ruxton, finished in the stunning color combination of raspberry, orchid, taupe and black, is simply the most beautiful example of the marque.

It is important to note that there are only four known Ruxton Roadsters from the three year production run in existence. While many more were built, the Roadsters are the scarcest, most desirable and most elegant models built by the factory. Unequivocally, the 1929 Ruxton presented here is peerless in its design, appearance and beauty and its availability for sale here marks a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire one of the most rare and desirable Classic Car Club of America Full Classics known to exist.

Estimate: $400,000 - $500,000

Photography: ACME Studios

Reference Number 5816

as of 1/10/2007

Car 1929 Ruxton Model C Roadster
VIN 18S1023 
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