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Bold And Beautiful Ruxtons Were Too Stylish For Their Time

Ruxton automobileOften referred to as the Rainbow Ruxtons, these vibrant cars never fully made it to prime time.  Less than 100 (possibly more depending on the source) of the late 1920’s automobiles were produced.  Both the beefy modern sedans, the first American passenger car with front-wheel-drive, and stylish roadsters were at the forefront of visual design when it came to automobiles.  Unfortunately the corporate soap opera of Ruxton stopped production before the world could fully appreciate this fabulous automobile.  Ruxton at Pebble BeachRuxton had a rather dramatic and confusing lineage not unlike a modern soap opera.

The car was first conceived in 1928 by William Muller an engineer for Budd Body Company in Philadelphia.  With the support of Archie Andrews,  a Hupmobile board member, they first presented the design to Hupmobile who passed on the car.  Andrews and Muller then formed New Era Motors Company to market the car.  In Late 1929 they reached an agreement with Moon Motors of St. Louis, MO to build the car.   The car was named after William V.C. Ruxton which they hoped to engage as an investor in the company.  This didn’t work and Ruxton sued New Era Motors.  Despite lawsuits and counter-suits production at Moon began in June of 1930… well sort of.  Kissel was contracted to build the transmissions and drive lines and later in 1930 produce the whole car when Andrews became unhappy with Moon.

Got all of that?  It is difficult to follow.

Blue & purple RuxtonThey did enlist the innovative eye of world-famous architect Joseph Urban, a methodical king of color and Art Deco styling and also “one of the most significant stage designers of the early twentieth century.”*  At the time the multitalented Austrian was elected for this commission which also included custom interior fabrics for the cars by F.J. Schumacher, his list of design and architectural accomplishments were already unreal.

  • Art Director Boston Opera Company
  • Art Director Metropolitan Opera & Ziegfield Follies
  • Ziegfield Follies theater
  • Over 30 movies with William Randolph Hearst
  • Multiple villas in European locations
  • Wiener Werkstätte shop, New York City
  • Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Mar-A-Lago, Palm Beach and other homes and buildings in the area
  • Roof garden murals, St. Regis Hotel, New York City
  • William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh
  • Hearst Building, New York City

Why not add an automotive styling to his repertoire?

Of the 19 Ruxtons still known to exist, 16 were on the lawn in a special class at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Tan RuxtonThis 1930 Ruxton A Baker-Raulang Roadster was the second of two roadsters built in Philadelphia and later assembled at Moon in June of 1930 and was the property of the Andrews family for many years.1930 Yellow Ruxton Roadster Red Ruxton RoadsterUrban Blue Ruxton Roadster Pink RuxtonThis 1929 Ruxton C Baker-Raulang Roadster was the fifth roadster built and the fifteenth chassis off the Moon production line.  How it is a 1929, I don’t understand.  This was one of two Phaetons built by the Kissel Company.

Now we have the ultra colorful multi-color striped Ruxton sedans.
Mahogany striped Urban RuxtonThe mahogany striped 1929 “Urban Ruxton” or C.Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co. Sedan was apparently the first Ruxton assembled at Moon in 1930.  Urban designed these multi-colored paint schemes with his daughter Gretl who was consulted, at age 99, for the restoration of this car.  Salmon Striped Ruxton SedanBlue striped Ruxton1932 Gray striped Ruxton SedanThe last of the multi-striped cars, this 1932 Ruxton C Edward G. Budd Mfg Co Sedan was built after the company had filed for bankruptcy at the request of the bankruptcy agent as an effort to get more money for creditors.  This is why the car titled as a 1932, long after its actual production model date.  Cool Hunting has an interesting post on this car and its owners. 1931 Ruxton C Baker-Raulang PhaetonWas Ruxton too much design for the time or just an unfortunate victim of a corporate soap opera or the big crash of 1929?


* Quote from Architect of Dreams The Theatrical Vision of Joseph Urban by Arnold Aronson

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