Tag Archives: Marmon Sixteen

What Everybody Ought to Know About Early Auto Advertising in the 1930’s

In the 1920’s, advertising became more lifestyle oriented with the use of lavish scenes like yachting, beaches, and gardening. In the early 1930’s, we saw a reversion to black and white printing with photos and sidebars. Tangible sales points were tied into product features.

Marmon Sixteen ad
Marmon Sixteen ad

An upscale Marmon Sixteen ad from 1931 is very trendy for the time. The Art Deco black and white illustration of the Sixteen is set off against a silver background. The minimalist copy touted, “The Marmon Sixteen is the modern automobile. Its beauty of line and appointment is the beauty of the simplicity and efficiency of today.” “Both in action and appearance the Marmon Sixteen redefines the motor car in terms of the present.” It included brief equipment specifications and pricing.

1932 Studebaker ad
1932 Studebaker ad

In the mid 1930’s, Studebaker produced The Wheel magazines for the auto show seasons. On the cover of the 1932 edition, we see a chic woman wearing furs showing a President convertible roadster to an older woman seated in a Studebaker electric. Inside the magazine there are eight pages of color illustrations interspersed with 12 pages of copy and black and white photographs of the “Triumphant New Studebakers.”

1933 Stutz brochure
1933 Stutz brochure

Stutz produced a 32 page brochure for its SV-16 and DV-32 models in 1933. The brochure had 11 full-page black and white photographs of its classy machines opposite descriptive copy of the SV-16 and DV-32 models. The copy advertises value, economy, and advanced design, along with two and half pages of new features. The brochure is very optimistic for a company facing the challenges of the middle depression.

He drives a Duesenberg ad
He drives a Duesenberg ad

Duesenberg introduced its lifestyle advertisements during the mid-1930’s. One ad emphasized an almost full-page illustration of a gentleman on his yacht braced against a storm with the minimum tagline, “He drives a Duesenberg.” Another showed a women talking to her master gardener with five other gardeners working in the background on a palatial garden. The Duesenberg in question is inferred, it is not shown anywhere. These are probably the epitome of automotive lifestyle advertising.

Most auto advertising of this era is more restrained, but in the upper end of the market we see the premier of lifestyle advertising.

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Use of aluminum in autos debuted in 1902

Contrary to the hoopla about Ford Motor Company’s F-150, the use of aluminum in autos debuted in 1902. An Indiana-built auto manufacturer may deserve the distinction of the first use of aluminum in autos.

Howard C. Marmon’s first prototype car is credited with development of a water-cooled, two-cylinder V-2 engine with an aluminum crankcase. The body construction was cast aluminum, with the rear compartment being a one-piece casting, including an integral bustle trunk. Its cast-aluminum body construction avoided the cracked surfaces and chipped paint that traditional coach builders had with wood body construction.

1904 Marmon Model A
1904 Marmon Model A

The 1906 Marmon catalog noted, “We make the aluminum castings for bodies and machinery parts; brass, bronze, and iron castings; do all machine work and gear cutting except cutting the bevel gears.” The 1907 Model F featured an exclusive all-aluminum body.

The 1916 introduction of the Marmon Model 34 featured an entire body and radiator shell made of aluminum, as was the six-cylinder engine cylinder block and most other engine components, including the push rods.

With the introduction of the Marmon Sixteen in 1930, it appeared that Marmon had saved the best for the last. The Sixteen, a magnificent $5,000 automobile with a 491 c.i.d. V-16 engine produced 200 h.p. and was good for over 100 m.p.h.

1933 Marmon Sixteen
1933 Marmon Sixteen

The Marmon Sixteen was honored by The Society of Automotive Engineers as “the most notable engineering achievement of 1930.” The society was especially impressed by the extensive use of lightweight aluminum, generally a difficult metal to work and maintain in automobile power plants.

A number of automotive enthusiasts over the years have praised Marmon as a fine automobile. Howard C. Marmon’s use of aluminum in automobiles spanned from 1902 to 1933. This predates Ford Motor Company’s claims by over 115 years. Indiana’s innovative automotive heritage is proven in this instance.

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Howard C. Marmon’s Innovation

Howard C. Marmon
Howard C. Marmon

Howard C. Marmon’s automotive innovation spanned from 1902 to 1933, but today his legacy is nearly forgotten in the automotive world.

Marmon’s first prototype car for Nordyke and Mar¬mon Company was remarkably progressive for 1902. It featured an overhead valve, air-cooled, two-cylinder, 90-degree V configuration engine with pressure lubrication. Marmon’s design was the earliest automotive application of a system that became universal to internal combustion piston engine.

1904 Marmon Model A
1904 Marmon Model A

Early on, Marmon recognized that weight was the enemy in car design. His early automobiles featured cast aluminum bodies, which weighed substantially less than other makes.

The effectiveness of a lighter body was proven in 1911 with a six-cylinder racing model named the Marmon Wasp. This car, driven by Ray Harroun, won the first Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Marmon Sixteen ad
Marmon Sixteen ad

The most recognizable of Marmon’s creations was the Marmon Sixteen with its magnificent 491 c.i.d., 200 h.p., V-16 engine. The Marmon Sixteen was the largest American passenger car engine of its era. In February 1931, before production started on the Sixteen, the Society of Automotive Engineers honored Marmon’s huge and gleaming V-16 engine design as “the most notable engineering achieve¬ment of 1930.” The society was especially impressed by the extensive use of lightweight alumi¬num, generally a difficult metal to work and maintain in automobile power plants.

At the very end, Howard Marmon built, at his own expense, the HCM Special, a prototype auto with 150 h.p. V12 engine, independent front-suspension, DeDion rear axle and tubular back¬bone frame. Independent suspension and tubular backbone chassis—with some engineering refinements—would resurface in about 30 years in exotic car applications.

Howard Marmon’s products many have been ahead of their time for the general public, but the engineering community recognized them upon their introduction.

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