The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum Is A Mecca For Classic Car Lovers

Detroit might be the Motor City, but for a time, it did not have much on Auburn, Indiana. Throughout the early 1900s, this little town was a big focus of the American automobile industry. In fact, automobile enthusiasts who want to see a different side of history than Detroit can provide will find a gem when they visit the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum.

Dubbed one of the “Top Ten Gearhead Destinations in the United States” by MSNBC in 2007, this museum pays homage to the cars in the Cord, Auburn and Duesenberg lines. The museum has on display more than 120 cars ranging in production date from 1894 to 1999. Housed in the old Auburn Automobile Company national headquarters, the museum has had its doors open since 1974.

While many people are aware of the history of American auto giants out of Detroit, the story of these three lines is lesser known. Auburn was known for its affordable cars. Cord was famed for its innovations. Duesenberg provided the wheels many Hollywood stars tooled around in.

The history of the three lines all came together in Auburn, which is why the museum focuses keenly on the trio. The Auburn Automobile Company produced vehicles out of its Indiana headquarters from 1900 to 1936. During the course of the company’s history, it also picked up the Cord and Duesenberg lines. Auburn itself was responsible for such vehicles as the 1929 8-90 Speedster and the 1935 851. The Cord line was manufactured by Auburn from the late 1920s and into the 1930s. Deusenbrg was a standalone company that built luxury cars along the line of the Rolls Royce. This highly popular company was founded in 1913 and was bought by E.L. Cord in 1926, cementing its ties to Auburn.

Plans for the museum date back to 1969 when the nonprofit Auburn Automotive Heritage Inc. was formed. The group had its sights sets on honoring the Deusenberg, Cord and Auburn lines. Its initial statement purpose was to “discover, procure and preserve whatever may be related to the history of the automotive industry in the City of Auburn and County of DeKalb, Indiana.” By the 1974 opening, the group was able to procure 24 automobiles on loan along with a variety of memorabilia.

Since its opening, the group has greatly expanded its collection and even managed to get National Register of Historic Places recognition for the building. Visitors to the museum today will find it chockfull of exhibits dedicated to the three lines. It features three floors of gallery space, an archives, education center and more. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum plays host to special events and exhibits throughout the year.

Car lovers interested in the history of the American automobile outside of what happened in Detroit will find the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum provides an eye-opening experience. This museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It only closes on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Tours are self-guided, but it is possible to arrange a docent-led visit.

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