Originally Owned by Mae West
This car was at "The Festival of Speed" in
Orlando last year.
Put on by the Amelia Island folks
it is an invitational only event.
Story by Michael B. Kelly follows
Nick Bauer's 1931 Auburn 8-98-A 3-Window Coupe
is a car that has several aspects
making it very interesting.
For one, it is the last surviving 1931 of its model
known to exist by the Auburn, Cord & Duesenberg Club.
Plus, the original owner was none other
than Mae West, the legendary actress.
Though she got her start as a child star in vaudeville,
it was once she had grown up and
was staring in movies that Mae West really made
her mark in the 1930's and 1940's.
Her most famous line from the 1933 film
She Done Him Wrong,
"Why don't you come up some time, and see me"
is often misquoted as
"Why don't you come up and see me sometime",
but that line has become synonymous
with the legendary actress.
She was very sexy and suggestive for her time,
and therefore one of the more controversial movie stars
of her day.
Mae West is credited with saving Hollywood
in the 1930's from failure during the
Great Depression era, and IRS records indicate
she was the highest paid woman in America in 1932.
The second owner of the car was Mae West's
lifelong manager/consort and
New York Mob enforcer James A. Timony
also known as "The Thug".
During that time court records verify
that James was arrested with Mae West,
and he served time.
So while these highly stylized autos of the era
are often referred to as "Gangster Cars",
this one actually was!
Dale Klee, the world famous Junkyard Artist
whose work can be seen at www.OldCarArt.com
owned "Ms. Mae" for 28 years prior to
Nick Bauer's purchasing her from him in 2005.
During Dale Klee's ownership he made
several drivetrain and mechanical modifications
to enable safe operation in the 21st century
though Dale himself never got the car on the road.
The most notable retained modification he made
is the front grill insert that was personally designed
and installed by Dale Klee himself.
That grill insert was retained through
the restoration process to honor that part of
Ms. Mae's history.
The '31 Auburn was restored by Nick Bauer
to an original type look,
with a few resto-mod changes.
Nick's goal was to have her appearing
as she would have back in the day,
but be mechanically functional for modern times.
Nick has been involved with cars all his life,
and has worked as a body man/painter, line mechanic,
auto electrician, upholsterer, and
was even a machinist mate in the Navy.
He did all of the restoration work himself,
with nothing sublet other than chrome plating,
and stitching on the carpeting.
Mae West's 1931 Auburn 8-98-A
was a factory custom ordered vehicle
fitting for someone with such celebrity and
The original body is still nailed to the
wooden framework underneath, and
the car still utilizes the original chassis.
The restored interior features a painted
wood grained dash just like the original,
and houses the original instruments which
have been converted to 12 volts.
To duplicate the original upholstery
Nick utilized chestnut leather, using
the original seat patterns,
along with a leather headliner and
alligator hide door panels like were custom chosen
by Mae West.
Updates that have been done to the car
for driveability and safety include
a custom built front suspension using
Jaguar upper and lower control arms
on the factory chassis,
power steering, and power front disc brakes
with drums in the rear.
Under the hood now resides a
1970 Cadillac 500 cubic inch motor
that has a Painless 12 volt electrical system,
mated to a Turbo 400 automatic transmission,
with a 10-bolt GM rear end housing
3.56:1 gears rounding out the running gear.
The factory Auburn radiator was retained,
and three electric cooling fans added
for all the parade duty she serves.
The exterior was kept stock looking as well,
and has been restored to the original
special ordered colors of yellow with light green highlights
and teal pinstriping on the raised body panels
like Mae West chose herself at the time of production.
For safety a set of Kelsey Hayes wire wheels
with chrome spokes and wide whitewall Coker tires
are now utilized,
but retain that resto-mod look.
The steamer trunk on the back of the car is
the original one Mae West used, and is
still fitted with her luggage!
Nick told us that all of the modifications
could be undone if a future owner ever wanted
to return the car to its pure stock form,
and make it a museum piece.
While we were chatting,
Nick also stated that
"After all, we are all just temporary caretakers
of these amazing automobiles, and
they will be around long after we are all gone".
Nick drives "Ms. Mae" to all the events he attends himself,
and if she ever broke down he would do the repairs himself.
The car has been featured in many movies,
TV and cable specials.
Nick also uses the car to raise money for charity,
and simply enjoys sharing "Ms. Mae" with everyone.
He attended our own Beach Blast 21 car show
in Cocoa Beach on May 15-17, 2015, and
it was fun just to watch from a distance
as people learned the special history of
this very rare automobile.
Nick also displays it with life-size Mae West cardboard
cut-outs, and sometimes dresses up in a
1930's gangster style "zoot suit", and
poses with a Tommy Gun for pictures.
It is obvious to see that Nick really loves this car
and that the spectators do as well!
This Auburn Is In
The ORLANDO AREA, FLORIDA USA
PRICE: $395,000 Trades Accepted,
Best Offers Considered
Stock Number: 2078VVV
My Location: Elkhart, IN United States
Information Call Ray at Toll Free 800-852-1911
Or Cell 574-849-5323
Second phone: 574-970-0645 (24 hrs) Or
THANKS FOR LOOKING
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