When RM Auctions closed its Meadowbrook sales in 2007, the highest bid for a 1932 Marmon prototype that, had it been volume-produced, could claim to be the most advanced car in North America.
Despite this, it boasts one of the most beautiful in America and was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, the son of William Dorwin Teague, a famous industrial designer who helped turn mundane household appliances into works of art.
This was Marmon’s last gasp that came at a time when the stock market was falling and due to the depression pulled the plug on the luxury car market.
In addition to this beautiful shape, it had an independent 4-wheel suspension, 4-wheel drum brakes, and an all-aluminum overhead-valve V-12 (three-quarters of the legendary Marmon Sixteen engine) that delivered 151 hp and a top speed of 112 mph when tested at the Indianapolis Speedway by racer Wilbur Shaw.
This Marmon’s history is almost as interesting as the car itself.
By the time it was finished the Marmon Motor Car Company was in receivership. With no prospect of his moribund company building it, Howard Marmon took his car on a tour of the nation’s auto manufacturers.
None of the Big Three was interested, nor were any of the independents. Marmon delivered the car to his estate in North Carolina and wrapped it in cellophane. It remained there until his death in 1943. Eventually, it came into designer Brook Steven’s collection until purchased by the seller in 1999.
Ironically, Walter Dorwin Teague had never seen the car until being re-united with it at Pebble Beach in 2001, where it won best-in-class. Teague was 94 when that magical moment happened. The car sold for $ 891,000, well below the estimate.
A harbinger of things to come in a faltering economy?