The Brutons' Little Marmon Speedster

The Bruton family's Little Marmon Speedster

It's almost time for "Car Week", when thousands of automobile aficionados descend upon the Monterey Peninsula to attend numerous car shows, races, and auctions.  Some locals love it, yet others hate the traffic and the luxury cars that speed around town. 

My family actually enjoys Car Week, and in honor of this event, I thought I'd share a great photograph (above) that I found among the Bruton sisters' papers.  It features the Bruton family home on Cass and El Dorado streets in Monterey (the house is no longer standing), their two dogs, and their automobile - a Little Marmon Speedster.  How do I know what kind of car this was?  I also found the receipt for its purchase:  

On August 9, 1927, the Brutons purchased a four-passenger Little Marmon 8 Speedster for $2,000. (This is about $31,000 in today's dollars, so it wasn't an overly extravagant price to pay for an automobile.)  They traded in their 1922 Ford (probably a Model T) for which they received a $150 credit.  

I had never heard of the Marmon car company before, but here's an interesting article about it:  Marmon: The rise, fall, and rarity of a forgotten American automaker.  The company was started in Indianapolis by brothers Howard and Walter Marmon, who built their first automobile in 1902. Although in the beginning they manufactured high-end luxury cars, they later introduced more affordable models like the Little Marmon Speedster that the Brutons purchased.  Interestingly, I found an ad from 1927 that describes this vehicle as "the ideal woman's car":


Unfortunately, the Marmon automobile company was unable to survive the Great Depression and went out of business in 1933. Today, Marmon cars are so rare that one sold at auction for nearly one million dollars in 2017.

The Bruton women loved to travel and clearly enjoyed their Little Marmon Speedster. Esther, Margaret, and their mother probably drove it to Taos, New Mexico, where they spent the summer of 1929. I can just imagine them speeding across the desert, three independent women with the top down and the wind in their hair.


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