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Lot 200

1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

  • Chassis no. 16 144 705
  • Engine no. 16694
  • Body no. 518

Sold for $1,320,000


200 bhp, 490.8 cu. in. OHV V-16 engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 145 in.

  • The largest American engine of the Classic Era; a masterpiece
  • One of eight known Convertible Coupes
  • Beautifully restored by Marmon Sixteen expert Harry Sherry
  • Fitted with Ridgley-Severn improved cylinder heads
  • Long-term ownership by known Marmon enthusiasts
  • Documented by Dyke W. Ridgley’s Marmon Sixteen Roster


MARMON’S MASTERPIECE

The Marmon Sixteen was introduced in 1931, and it represented automobile pioneer Colonel Howard Marmon’s ultimate, greatest, and most impressive vision for what a luxury car should be. With beautiful coachbuilt bodies by LeBaron and a state-of-the-art overhead-valve engine that could displace over 490 cubic inches, the Marmon Sixteen was capable of 200 horsepower and a top speed over 100 mph. The Sixteen was a triumph of pattern-making and foundry technology, as its all-aluminum engine construction was matched to a chassis that was state of the art, and the model had an unmatched power-to-weight ratio. In fact, the car was reportedly capable of out-accelerating a Duesenberg Model J, yet it cost buyers only one third as much. This was something that no doubt embarrassed Marmon’s Indianapolis neighbor.

Credit for the Sixteen’s styling is often given to industrial design legend Walter Dorwin Teague Sr., but it was, in fact, his son, Walter Jr., who penned the beautiful lines that ultimately entered production. Dorwin, as he was known, was a student at MIT and a gifted designer in his father’s mold. He envisioned a sleek and graceful car that was completely devoid of gratuitous ornamentation and characterized by simple shapes, with a bold beltline, low roofline, and raked windshield. Particularly noteworthy were the fenders, which had an understated skirting in the front that served to hide the working components of the suspension and chassis.

Unfortunately, Cadillac’s own V-16 beat Marmon to the market by almost two years, stealing the thunder of what otherwise would have taken the automotive world by storm. Also, Howard Marmon lacked a deep-pocketed backer like General Motors to help his company survive the Great Depression. The writing was on the wall, and the end came quietly in 1933. The Sixteen was the final production Marmon automobile, but it was also the car that ensured that this great company—the winner of the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911—would be remembered for its exploits on the road as well as the track.

Dyke W. Ridgley, of the Marmon Sixteen Roster, estimates that between 370 and 375 Sixteens were produced. Of the seventy-six known survivors, only eight are convertible coupes. It is no surprise, then, that this particularly desirable and sporty body style almost never comes available for sale.

CHASSIS NUMBER 16 144 705

The Convertible Coupe offered here, chassis number 16 144 705, has been thoroughly documented by Mr. Ridgley’s Marmon Sixteen Roster. It has long-term history in the Denver, Colorado, area, where it is believed to have resided in the possession of several early enthusiasts from as early as 1948. Eventually, it was purchased in 1963 by William E. Carney, of Shawnee, Kansas, but by the early 1970s, it had returned again to Colorado, this time in Yuma, where it was purchased by Oliver Kofoed from a fellow enthusiast in 1972.

Mr. Kofoed began a restoration of the Convertible Coupe, but he did not complete it before selling the car to Robert Atwell, of Kerrville, Texas, in the late 1980s. Mr. Atwell was one of the preeminent Southwestern enthusiasts of his era. He was particularly fond of Marmon Sixteens and had assembled the world’s best collection of the cars, one that represented virtually every body style. Most of his cars, including this Convertible Coupe, eventually passed to his son, Rich Atwell, who continued the restoration of chassis number 16 144 705 before selling it to another well-known Sixteen aficionado, Marvin Tamaroff of Southfield, Michigan, in 1998.

It was fortunate that Mr. Tamaroff then chose to have the Convertible Coupe’s restoration completed by his favored restorer, Harry Sherry of Warsaw, Ontario. Mr. Sherry, although now retired, was for many years the world’s foremost Marmon Sixteen restorer, known for his expertise and exquisite level of craftsmanship and detail. He restored this car in its present sparkling maroon and silver livery, with a contrasting maroon interior and grey soft-top.

Typical of Mr. Sherry’s restorations, the car is outstanding and has aged almost flawlessly, with only the slightest signs of age. Since 2007, it has been carefully maintained in its present home in the Andrews Collection, as the last and best of several Sixteens that Paul and Chris Andrews have owned and enjoyed over the years, and it is still in superb cosmetic and mechanical condition. It wears Classic Car Club of America Senior badge number 2379.

It should also be noted that this Marmon has a new set of cylinder heads installed, as part of a project undertaken by Dyke Ridgley and Gary Severns. These two enthusiasts reverse-engineered the cylinder heads and arranged to produce new ones for these cars through the utilization of the latest techniques in metallurgy. Although they are 100% correct externally and feature the best American castings by Edelbrock, as well as final machining by Carroll Shelby Enterprises, these cylinder heads are fully modern internally and have extra corrosion protection and strength. They also incorporate minor changes that add even more power to the already high-performing Sixteen.

This car is a splendidly restored example of perhaps the most desirable factory Marmon Sixteen style, and it has benefitted from the ownership of some of the most prominent names in Sixteen connoisseurship: Atwell, Tamaroff, and Andrews. It is the ideal choice for any enthusiast who wishes to complete his or her collection with one of the great engineering masterpieces of the Classic Era.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more