Thomas Rawson was a farmer who had an excellent harvest in 1928 and decided to splurge on a new family vehicle, so he bought a new Auburn 6-76 Sedan to celebrate his good fortune.
Eventually the Auburn’s engine was used up by hard work and blew a hole through its block. The Auburn limped on as a horse-drawn vehicle and suffered cosmetic damage to its front end before it was eventually banished to a machine shed on the farm in 1958.
Thomas had a son named George who had a keen interest in the Auburn because it was always a part of the family since Thomas had already owned it for eight years before George was even born.
George had a long career as a fighter pilot in the RCAF that took him and his family to many places over the years, but he never lost interest in the family Auburn. In 1980, George decided to rescue the Auburn and restore it back to its original glory.
He and his youngest son Randy (then 16 years old) trailered the car from its rural prairie home through the Canadian Rockies to Courtenay, BC on Vancouver Island. Thus began a long restoration process for the family heirloom.
The most important part of the equation was originality, a difficult task because the project took place during the 1980s when the internet was still many years in the future for the average car guy, so the Rowson family was unable to connect with part sources for the Auburn.
One example of the parts scarcity was the engine because there were no replacements available at the time, so the family had to repair the existing engine. George’s son Kerry was tasked with the engine block’s missing piece back into place under the careful guidance of a retired air force colleague named Don Choniere.
Don tested Kerry’s welds with a well-aimed hammer blow, and it took eight attempts before Kerry’s welds passed the test.
One of the few parts that were available for the Auburn was original mohair seat fabric sold in the Boston area on the other side of the continent in terms of distance. However, George was a jet pilot and was able to fly to Boston to pick up the material, so the Auburn has NOS fabric on its seats.
The Auburn restoration has a few sad moments for the Rowson family because youngest son Randy was killed by a drunk driver when he was only 19 years old while returning home with the Auburn’s front and rear bumpers after they were re-chromed in Victoria, BC.
Additionally, George was unable to complete the Auburn restoration before his mother passed away, but she was undoubtedly aware the car had a bright future with her family.
On a happier note, Kerry was able to use the car as his wedding car and expects it will be used in future weddings within his family.
George Rowson passed away in 2006 and his son Kerry became the Auburn’s caretaker (his words) at that point. Kerry is certain the 95-year-old family treasure will remain in the Rowson family because of its long history with his grandfather and father before him.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.