As we arrived in Monterey, California to cover the Pebble Beach Concours we discovered that Gateway Classic Cars in St Louis, Missouri had listed a 1932 Marmon 16 for sale on the Cars On Line.com website. The syncronicity of that occurrence could not be overlooked. This 1932 Marmon 16 would fit right in with the cars that are flooding into the Monterey Penninsula this week for the Concours. What an incredible piece of automotive history. It’s one thing to look at photos of this historic car, but click the video window here to see this car on the road:
The Marmon 16 was designed by Walter Teague of the Marmon Motor Company. The design is significant for its sharp clean lines and its excessively luxurious interiors. You’ll note from the video that this 1932 Marmon 16 is well suited to the road and performs very well with all kinds of power. It was meant to be a road car. It should be remembered that this is a massive automobile, spanning a 145-inch wheelbase, with a gross vehicle weight of 5,500 pounds. It was beautifully crafted and was considered to be well ahead of its time mechanically with aluminum heads. Marmon was known for using aluminum crankcases and gearboxes, and even used thin walled aluminum casting for body sections. It is said that a Marmon 16 owner could set a coin on edge on the intake manifold while the engine was running. That’s how smooth the Marmon 16 engine was.
Howard Marmon started his company in 1902 in Indianapolis, and produced a car that had the reputation of being reliable. In the first year they produced an air cooled V twin engines, followed by an air cooled 4-cylinder, then a V6 followed by a V8. Later they conformed to the straight 6 configuration, but Howard was working on a V-16 luxury car for years. Two of his engineers went to work for Cadillac and Peerless, both companies ended up beating Marmon into production with a V-16 class car. Marmon finally put the Marmon 16 into production for the 1931 model year.
The engine itself was designed by Howard Marmon. It was an overhead valve 390.8 cubic inch V-16 producing 200 horsepower. Because of the V-16 engine, Marmon Motor Company advertised it as “The World’s Most Advanced Car.” Each chassis was tested at the Indianapolis 500 race track to make sure it would do 100 miles per hour before it was sent to the coachbuilder.
The massive Marmon 16 had an equally giant price tag. The cars sold for between $5,100 and $5,400. Only 400 Marmon 16 vehicles were actually produced between 1931 and 1933. In 1933, the worst year of the depression, Marmon Motor Company went out of business. It is said that only 60 examples of the Marmon 16 have survived till today.