1936 Auburn Estate Wagon
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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, indelible 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, sheet metal, 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 friend's estate for the Auburn's background, and as I was about to discover during the unveiling, turned out to be the most apt location relative to the subject that we have ever had the good fortune to shoot.
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 straight line, with the driveway culminating between two white brick columns that separate the driveway from the circular roundabout directly in front of the main entrance.
With the house facing true North, it is a photographer's lighting and setting dream come true. Mark was next to arrive with the 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 “satori,” able to “see” that Mark's wagon was at one with its surroundings, the Estate Wagon was home at last.
(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
All hardware, brackets, knobs, handles, and
hinges for the wood body
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
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
Credit to others:
John Wright Custom Chrome Plating
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