Big Band music fills the air in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana, encouraging your imagination to run wild as you walk among classic cars that were the epitome of the life of luxury in the 1920s and 1930s.
Think of the extravagant lifestyle portrayed in the 2013 film The Great Gatsby that highlighted these classic beauties (classic car aficionados note that the movie was a departure from the novel, which refers to Gatsby driving a Rolls-Royce). High ceilings, ornate trim, polished tile floors, and a grand staircase in the museum are fit for Gatsby himself.
Cord, who became president of the Auburn Automobile Co. in 1926 and purchased Duesenberg Motor Co. the same year, also had a love of aviation and melded the two together. He purchased Lycoming Foundry and Machine, now the powerhouse Lycoming aircraft engine manufacturer, in 1927. Lycoming produced engines for several car manufacturers including Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg. The opening gallery of the museum features a Lycoming-made Cord 812 V-8 170-horsepower supercharged engine that increased acceleration and top speed in the cars. Cord also owned two airlines serving the Midwest and West with Stinson aircraft powered by Lycoming engines (Stinson also was a Cord company). That fascination with aviation also had an influence on his cars, including a one-of-a-kind Cabin Speedster capable of going 100 mph that’s featured in the Auburn Boattails collection for supercars of the Golden Age.
The display cars are impeccably restored and maintained (volunteers spend more than 1,400 hours a year shining them), and many of the pieces are drivable. If you want to see Auburns, Cords, and Duesenbergs driving, mark your calendar for the week prior to Labor Day. Each year, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival brings hundreds of these and other classic cars to Auburn for a parade, displays, Gatsby Gala Ball, and more. The popular RM Auctions Auburn Fall Collector Car weekend also takes place during the festival. The company also hosts a spring auction.
If you are like Errett L. Cord and have a love for cars and airplanes, then the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum and festival—where a beautiful history intertwines the two—is for you!