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1936 Auburn Estate Wagon

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Blue Moon


Once in a blue moon someone or something comes into our life that leaves us

forever changed.

Mark Spandikow's 1936 Auburn Estate Wagon is one of those things that has  left an unforgettable, idelible impression on me.


Mark Spandikow and Mark Norton's '36 Auburn Estate Wagon is an incredible achievement made possible through their collaboration of mutual trust, desire, vision, craftsmanship, and innovation.

I have known Mark Norton for over ten years. We met at Mike Nickel's, Nickels Automotive Woodworking shop in Traverse City Michigan at which time Mark was honing his formidable woodworking skills. Almost immediately thereafter Mark decided that it was time to open his own workshop, Norton Woodies Rods was born.


Fast forward as Mark developed his wood, paint, sheetmetal, mechanical and design skills to the day that Mark Spandikow called and said “I would like you to build me an Auburn woodie,” to which Mark Norton responded,”sorry Auburn never made a woodie,” which of course was the “why” behind Spandikow's request.


From that point forward the die was cast, with the ensuing build evolving over a span of six years.


As their project came to its conclusion both Mark's agreed to introduce their wagon at the 2022 Auburn Cord Duesenburg Automobile Museum show scheduled for September 8th.

That's when we received the call from Mark Norton asking us if we would shoot the woodie. 


Knowing Mark's previous projects, I had every confidence that his creation would be an elegant expression of design excellence and superior fit and finish, so I immediately accepted his commission sight unseen.


With all due respect, this one-of-a-kind far exceeds what Auburn would have been capable of in the day.


As relates to our photo shoot, from that moment forward it was pure synchronicity, with everything falling magically into place.


Mark had chosen a friends estate for the Auburn's background, and as I was about to discover turned out to be the best location relative to subject that we have ever photographed.


On shooting day I was the first to arrive. The estate is Gatsbyesque with a beautifully landscaped parkway, mature oaks, and manicured lawns. The stately driveway makes its approach to the house in a long staright line,  with the driveway culminating between two white brick columns that seperate the driveway from the circular round-about directly in front of the main entrance.


With the house facing true North it is a photographers lighting and setting dream come true.  

Mark was next to arrive with trailer in tow.  We exchanged greetings as Mark unloaded the wagon.  I know this is going to sound like the proverbial boy meets girl story, but sparks were flying, it really was love at first sight. To be clear I mean the Auburn not Mark.


As we did a walk around I simply couldn't take my eyes off the car as Mark pointed out and described various elements of his build, while I gained greater appreciation for both Mark and the Auburn.


As my mind transitioned from sensory overload I achieved a sort of “satori,” able to “see” that Mark's wagon was at one with its surroundings, the Estate Wagon was home.


(In order to better comprehend the magnitude of Mark's creation, I invite you to take a look at its part list comprised of the items that Mark designed and fabricated for  his build.))

Auburn Custom Parts List

Designed and built in-house 

Rear fenders

All hardware, brackets, knobs, handles, and

hinges for the wood body

Seat Frames

Shift knob

Rearview and side view mirror posts

Rear bumper and mounting brace

Fuel tank and custom fuel gauge

Spare tire pan

Passenger hood prop support system

Door latch regulators

Rear gate window latch and opening system

All door and gate hinges

All one of one system for the rear quarter windows having crank regulators

Rear gate counterweight system

Custom wood body

Custom frame extension for the wood body

Developed custom leaf springs for the wood body

A one-of-one drip rail system for the roof

Tail lights


Side notes:

All color choices and materials by Mark Norton

The chassis frame was rebuilt due to rust

All prep smoothing of cast parts for the engine was done in-house for chrome plating

Wiring harness with Cloth Braided wire

All paintwork

All mechanical

Credit to others: 

John Wright Custom Chrome Plating

Classic Instruments

Pro Auto Interiors

Mark Spandikow (The Indiana Jones of finding Auburn Parts)


Check out our 32x40in display we tailor-made for World of Wheels 2023

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