Lot 260 - 1929 Marmon Model 78 Coupé
|Odometer reading||4,232 km|
|Estimate||£45,000 - £55,000|
Howard Carpenter Marmon's family business was the manufacture of milling machinery and the pre-eminence of the Nordyke and Marmon Company allowed the young Howard to indulge his interest in the automobile. He made his first car in 1902, an air-cooled, overhead valve V- twin which, unusually for the time, featured a gear driven, pressure fed lubrication system. His next car, the 1904 V- four, featured aluminium in some of its construction and Marmon went on to become an ardent promoter of light aluminium construction in the motor industry.
With victory in the inaugural Indianapolis Five Hundred Miles Race in 1911 going to the Marmon Wasp driven by Ray Huroun, the Marmon Motor Company was in the ascendancy and the new, six cylinder Model 34, announced at the 1916 National Automobile Show was acknowledged as one of the finest cars of its era, alongside the Packard Twin Six and the pioneering Cadillac V-8.
By the mid 1920s the company was experiencing financial problems and a board shake-up ensued. Howard Marmon's brother, Walter, left the board and a new president, George M. Williams, was appointed to put the company back on its feet. A new, lower priced, Marmon with fashionable straight eight engines of smaller displacement was the new president's answer and former Locomobile engineer, Barney Roos, was hired to design the new model. The 1927 Little Marmon was a great success selling over ten thousand units in its first year of production. Roos did not stay long and his replacement Thomas J. Litle, previously with Lincoln, was engaged to design no less than three separate lines of straight eights. Of these, the car offered here, the 217 cubic inch overhead valve Model 78 was the top model. It was offered with a choice of factory built body styles namely sedan, two seater Coupé, five seater Victoria Coupé, Collapsible Coupé, Roadster and Speedster. With a 5.5: 1 compression ratio the engine produced 86bhp at 3400rpm, sufficient to give a top speed of 85mph which The Indianapolis Motor Speedway deemed impressive enough for them to make a Model 78 rumble-seat roadster the official pace car for 1928.
The immaculate Model 78 offered here was originally exported to Switzerland; hence the speedometer is calibrated in kph and, according to The Marmon Club, is one of only two surviving Coupés built in 1929. Little is known of its history but it was recorded as having been discovered in Switzerland in the late 1980s and, while in the ownership of a Mr. Ernst Justrich, was entrusted to Peter Orlainsky of Blunders-Burs in Austria for complete restoration. The quality of the work undertaken is superb and the car is still presented in concours condition.
In 2000 Mr. Justrich sold the Marmon to UK Rolls Royce and Bentley specialists P&A Wood who subsequently sold the car to a Mr. Jock Thompson. It was then purchased by a Mr. Richard Herbert who enjoyed the car for a couple of years before selling the car on to the current vendor twelve years ago, during whose ownership the car has been used sparingly. It has however, been professionally maintained and kept ready for use at any time. The Marmon still looks as if the restoration was completed only yesterday and a short drive in the car gave testament to its excellent mechanical condition. The straight-eight motor runs very quietly and is extremely flexible yet will emit a lovely note when use is made of its, not inconsiderable, performance. While the mileage cannot be warranted it is thought that the Marmon has covered only a small mileage over its lifetime.
There is a history file with the car which includes a detailed photographic record of the restoration and also a rare Marmon sales catalogue of the period. The car comes with a UK V5C registration document and a number of magazine articles in which the Marmon has featured. This incredible and rare car is good enough to grace any concours event and will surely appeal to the most discerning vintage car collector.
Note: Grateful acknowledgement is given to Felsted School for use of their grounds to photograph the car.
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