One-off body by Waterhouse on custom 154-inch chassis built for John D. Rockefeller’s daughter. Three owners from new, ex-Harrah’s, freshly rebuilt V16 with new Edelbrock heads. Spectacular in every way!
This remarkable Sixteen presents in exceptional condition, a testament to the quality of the car, the workmanship along the way, and the care it has received over the past nine decades. The stunning two-tone blue finish is entirely appropriate, conservative yet sporting, and helping to disguise the car’s absolutely immense footprint. It was repainted in the ‘70s while in the Harrah’s collection, and the finish is holding up beautifully. The body is aluminum with steel fenders and hood, so while it is undeniably large, it is no heavier than a standard 145-inch Marmon and perhaps lighter than some of its contemporaries such as the Cadillac V16 and most certainly lighter than a Duesenberg. The robust structure underneath produces an especially satisfying sound when you close the door and on the road it remains almost entirely free of squeaks, rattles, or other noises. That unique California top is in excellent condition and presumably original—it shows some very minor signs of age but nothing that needs attention. You will also note that it wears a CCCA Senior Prize award, another indication of the car’s quality.
The blue leather interior is typical touring car simple—wide, flat hides on the seats with simple piping on the edges. Plush carpets were standard, front and rear, and matching leather door panels incorporate map pockets big enough to actually store gear. It’s likely that most of the interior is original to the car given its low mileage and the slight proportions of two of its owners, and we have no trouble believing that the rear compartment is entirely original, as it was seldom used. Marmon’s gauges are big, round, and easy to read, an intentional design that seems uniquely Marmon where form always followed function, although the speedometer is hidden behind the steering column, making it a little hard to see. All the gauges are fully operational, including the 8-day clock, and the large knob at the top of the instrument panel cranks open the cowl vent, an elegantly simple design. Headlights are managed by the horn button, whose edges are serrated to make it easy to grip and turn, and the switch for an auxiliary electric fuel pump is hidden in the glove box to the driver’s left. The rear compartment is as spacious as a living room and features two auxiliary seats that are as large as the primary seats in many lesser cars, as well as a rear bench with a folding center armrest. Tonneau covers for both front and rear compartments are included so the car can be secured on tour and a full set of luggage is stowed in the trunk.
Marmon’s V16 engine is built almost entirely of an aluminum alloy called Lynite, with the one-piece block using fork-and-blade connecting rods to make it relatively compact, although “relatively” is the key word: there are 491 cubic inches inside, the biggest pre-war luxury car engine of them all. Brand new Edelbrock aluminum cylinder heads ($10,000 each!) feature overhead valves and pushrods with mechanical lifters. On top there’s a Stromberg DDR 2-barrel downdraft carburetor—Marmon was among the first to adopt downdraft carbs in the early 1930s and boasted that this engine had equal fuel distribution to all 16 cylinders. An A/C mechanical fuel pump feeds the carburetor, assisted by an electric fuel pump hidden in the back of the chassis.
In 2015 a full rebuild was commissioned at Frank Seme & Sons Rebuilders, noted experts on Full Classic multi-cylinder engines and today has fewer than 1000 miles on it. The engine bay is beautifully detailed with polished aluminum valve covers, black enamel intake panels, and raw aluminum castings everywhere else. The generator, starter, distributor, and water pump were also rebuilt, as was the Stromberg carburetor on top. The engine-turned firewall is surely a nod to Marmon’s racing past (they were, after all, the winners of the very first Indy 500) and the butterfly hood rests on built-in stanchions so that both sides may be opened at once, presumably to best display the engine.
The 3-speed manual transmission shifts beautifully with no gear clash or double-clutching required and 3.69 gears mean this is an effortless cruiser at modern highway speeds. Marmon’s suspension is standard early ‘30s fare with a dropped I-beam axle in front and a live axle in back, all supported by leaf springs secured to the frame using shackles with ball bearings in their mounts. Watson double-action shock absorbers are fitted, and with that bridge-like wheelbase the ride is superior to anything else you are likely to drive from 1932. With Bendix vacuum-assist, these mechanical brakes are confident, pulling the car down from speed without drama. Combined with the Ross steering gear box and a built-in stabilizer, it’s not difficult to understand why the previous owner enjoyed driving this car well into his 80s—it’s exceptionally easy to handle. Chrome wire wheels are certainly flashy, but that’s how it was built, and it carries a set of 7.00-18 Lester wide whitewall tires.
This gorgeous Sixteen, with its unique open coachwork, exceptional history, and fresh mechanicals, is an outstanding opportunity to acquire one of the most significant pre-war American cars ever built and one that will delight you every time you climb behind the wheel.
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com