Like a shooting star that flashed across the firmament and was gone, the extraordinary Ruxton was around for just four months, being constructed by the appropriately named Moon Motors for the New Era Motors Company. The Ruxton was truly revolutionary.
The brainchild of design engineer and racing driver William Muller, this machine had an extraordinary appearance – long and low, with flowing wings and an absence of running boards that emphasized its sleek design and low ride height.
This was made possible by the Ruxton’s front-wheel drive configuration – a system being introduced at the same time (without much success) by European manufacturers like Alvis and already incorporated into the American L29 Cord. After prototypes were built in 1928 and 1929, the Ruxton finally made it to the road in 1930, and some 500 examples were produced by an ill-funded consortium. Engines were Continental straight eights and bodies were mainly sedans built by Budd or open-tops by Rausing, though there were also town cars and phaetons. Striking paint jobs helped to stress the long, crouching look of these unique cars.
But this is a typical tale of the triumph of Depression over optimism. Quality manufacturer Marmon had agreed to build the Ruxton, but pulled out when the Wall Street Crash took place on deal-signing day. Moon Motors of St Louis was in trouble even before the production run began, so the work was split with the Kissel Motor Company in Wisconsin. But that, too, was struggling and recession took its inevitable toll, with too few buyers around to make an expensive machine offering innovative technology and no proven track record anything but a huge loss maker. Production ceased abruptly in a complicated mess of recrimination and law suits, ending one of the shortest and most bizarre chapters in American automotive history.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
4.4 l (268 cid) Straight Eight
Top speed around 80 mph (130 km/h)
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Ruxton was named after potential investor Wiliam V C Ruxton, but the plan backfired in spectacular fashion when he not only failed to put up any money but also sued, to make it clear that he had nothing to do with the car or the shambles surrounding its construction and demise.