Hershey

9-10 October 2014

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Lot 159

1924 Marmon Model 34B Speedster

  • Chassis no. 2240111

$125,000 - $175,000


84 hp, 339.7 cu. in. valve-in-head inline six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission with reverse sliding gear, semi-elliptic front suspension with reversed rear shackles, and mechanical rear brakes. Wheelbase: 132 in.

  • Largely unrestored; same-family ownership since the 1970s
  • Odometer shows just 40,000 original miles
  • Rare low-production Marmon model offered between 1921 and 1924


Marmons were produced in Indianapolis, Indiana, from 1903 to 1933. The Model 34 was first introduced in 1916, and it featured an inline, overhead-valve six, whose cylinder block and most components were made of aluminum, as was the body and radiator shell. At 3,450 pounds, the car weighed some 20 to 30 percent less than comparable large cars, earning it the title of the fastest American production car in the early 1920s.

The advanced design of the Model 34 series featured “unification construction,” making the body and chassis nearly one and essentially creating an early version of unibody construction. Even weight distribution was an ideal 50/50 front-to-rear, and the foot pedals were placed to allow quick movement from throttle to brake to clutch. Instruments were placed in a single cluster with indirect night lighting, one of many features we take for granted today.

With 84 horsepower on tap, the Marmon Speedster was chosen to pace the 1920 Indianapolis 500. During this race, a production car was required to average better than 60 mph to bring the pack up to speed on the pace lap, which was no problem for Marmon. Legendary driver Barney Oldfield was able to lead the starting grid around the course at a sensational 80 mph before pulling off at the end of the pace lap. Oldfield was so impressed that he purchased the car after the race, resulting in perhaps the best endorsement Marmon could ever receive.

This rare Marmon is a preservationist’s dream. Until recently, it remained in the same family since the early 1970s. It was annually driven from southern New Jersey to the Hershey Fall Meet, and according to the consigner, it runs and drives beautifully. It was likely repainted once in its life, from grey to the red it now wears, which is evidenced by the brush marks in the rustic preparation done so many years earlier. The interior is tattered, and the top, although torn and not original, is remarkably intact. The odometer shows just 40,000 miles from new.

The transmission is equipped with a locking mechanism atop the shifter ball, which operates when reverse is selected, and it is essentially an early anti-theft device, if you will. In addition, the Marmon is equipped with an air compressor that is attached to the generator, and in the event of a flat, a spare tire tube could be inflated. Both are typical of the advanced thinking of Howard Marmon. The unusual but stylish turtleback body is accessed through two golf-bag doors. Rather than being equipped with the standard wood artillery wheels, it is equipped with optional wire wheels, which cost a staggering $135 when new. It has recently been serviced, and according to the consigner, “It is ready to go!”

With today’s emphasis on preservation, this is an ideal candidate for competition in the unrestored and survivor classes at most shows and concours. It will no doubt be a crowd-pleaser wherever it appears.

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