New York - ICONS

6 December 2017

1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

  • Chassis no. 144 859
  • Serial no. 16 144 859
  • Body no. 536
  • Frame no. 813

Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

  • An American masterpiece of styling and engineering
  • One of just eight surviving authentic examples
  • Formerly of the Harrah and Lyon Family Collections
  • Single ownership for 27 years
  • Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic


Like all great pieces of art, the Marmon Sixteen was one man’s vision of perfection. Automobile pioneer Colonel Howard Marmon created a triumph of pattern-making and foundry technology, containing at its heart an all-aluminum V-16 engine on a state-of-the-art chassis. With 200 horsepower from over 490 cubic inches, the car was capable of out-accelerating a Duesenberg Model J—yet it cost buyers only one-third as much. It was dressed by Walter Dorwin Teague, Jr., an MIT student working for his father’s industrial design firm, whose crisp lines devoid of gratuitous ornamentation and characterized by crisp design shapes embodied the lean sportiness of the age.

It was a design in which superb styling and world-class engineering existed with harmonious balance, as has seldom been seen before or since. Like a fine Swiss watch or the best mahogany speedboat, it whispered quietly but firmly of its owner’s wealth and exquisite taste. Seventy-six remain in existence; only eight of them are convertible coupes, by far the most desirable style. With the exception of the example now offered, all remain firmly held in long-term private collections from which they are unlikely to soon emerge.

THE HARRAH’S SIXTEEN

I drove the car around Reno and out onto Interstate 80, attracting a good deal of attention all along the way. Other motorists on the highway reacted as I expected—with surprise or astonishment, the latter most particularly from those I passed, and I passed quite a few.

—Bill Harrah, “Marmon Sixteen Impressions,” Automobile Quarterly, Vol. 27 No. 2

Much has been written of William F. Harrah and his quest to assemble the world’s largest automobile collection. Between 1948 and his death in 1978, he established the modern standards of quality and authenticity in restoration and made the immaculate results available for all to see in a vast facility—open to the public free of charge—on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada. Even among his 1,500 automobiles, however, Harrah had his favorites, which were often the cars that he had most admired and wanted in his youth. The Marmon Sixteen convertible coupe was one of them.

It was nearly as challenging to acquire a Sixteen convertible coupe then as it is now. Harrah finally sourced serial number 16 144 859 from Robert Sedgwick of Inglewood, California. In typical fashion, upon arrival at Harrah’s Automobile Collection, the car was extensively photographed and the collection’s full-time staff set about preparing for restoration by researching every detail of its original construction and finishes. Period brochures and magazine articles were consulted, as were known authorities, among them William R. Gibson of Massachusetts, who in a letter attributes the car to an original owner in Illinois. Mr. Gibson also noted the car was among the last built as a 1932 model, though it was first sold in 1933—hence the addition of the front fender marker lights more common to the 1933s.

Harrah’s exhaustive restoration of the Marmon in its original color scheme was completed in the 1960s, after which it took pride of place in his collection. It was featured in many of the Harrah’s Automobile Collection souvenir books and postcards published over the next decade. It was also prominently featured in the namesake book written by Dean Batchelor on the Harrah’s collection, as well as in two issues of Automobile Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 2 and Vol. 27 No. 2.

After Mr. Harrah’s passing, the Marmon was one of a large group of automobiles sold from the collection to renowned enthusiast General William Lyon in 1987. General Lyon maintained the Sixteen convertible coupe for some time before selling it to the current owners, with whom it has now remained in loving hands for well over a quarter of a century. It is offered today still wearing much of its original Harrah’s restoration, with only a recent freshening. The car is accompanied by a history file that includes a copy of the original Harrah’s Automobile Collection research and restoration file, a treasure trove of information for the historically minded new owner.

Much can be said of how an automobile represents a time or a place, but this particular Marmon Sixteen is more than that. If the Sixteen itself embodies the best of engineering and styling from its period, then this car is among the best of the Sixteens. It has, to many enthusiasts, been the instantly recognizable symbol of its marque and model since the first time it purred at 95 mph down a Nevada desert highway.

Then as now, with quiet authority, it spoke for itself.

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