Women-owners only Duesenberg headed to auction

1929 Duesenberg Model J has been owned by four people -- all women | Morphy Auctions photos
1929 Duesenberg Model J has been owned by four people — all women | Morphy Auctions photos

We who cover the collector car hobby write a lot about provenance and the effect of such things as ownership history on a car’s value when it is put up for sale. So it will be more than interesting to see what the extremely unusual ownership history of a particular 1929 Duesenberg Model J brings when the car crosses the block October 11 at Morphy Auctions’ Premier Automobile Auction in Denver, Pennsylvania.

The Dusie, with unrestored (original) convertible coupe bodywork (with rumble seat) by Murphy, has had four owners — and all of them have been women. Continue reading

Gary Cooper’s Duesenberg SSJ to appear at Arizona Concours

 The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ was originally owned by film legend Gary Cooper | Revs Institute photos
The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ was originally owned by film legend Gary Cooper | Revs Institute photos

Of all the American brands from the Classic Era, none rivals that of Duesenberg, then or now. The third-annual Arizona Concours d’Elegance honors “Duesie” with its own featured class on Sunday, January 24, 2016, and a number of spectacular examples already have been entered.

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ACD Museum digitizing its archives

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The cars of Indiana | ACD Museum Photo

The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is hosting History on the Rocks, a fundraising effort Friday to help the museum digitize its archival collections. Guests in attendance will be treated to cocktail sampling, hors d’oeuvres, and live galleries throughout the museum.

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Will ex-Veeck Duesenberg hit home run at Auburn auction?

1929 Murphy-bodied Duesenberg Model J has ties to major league baseball team-owner Bill Veeck Jr. | Auctions America photos
1929 Murphy-bodied Duesenberg Model J has ties to major league baseball team-owner Bill Veeck Jr. | Auctions America photos

Yes, it only makes sense to offer a sensational 1929 Duesenberg Model J for sale at an auction held during the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana. And this one is, indeed, sensational — a Murphy-bodied convertible coupe in a silver finish that makes the car appear to be glowing.

But while it was the photographs that caught my eye as I paged through the Auctions America Auburn Fall sale catalog, it was the words that really got my attention, especially when I read, “It is hard to imagine the effect that chassis no. 2168 must have had on its next owner, William Veeck Junior…” Continue reading

Old guard rules as Duesenberg, Bugatti win at Concours of America

1929 Duesenberg and 1937 Bugatti 57SC Atalante judged best in show at Detroit's concours | Kevin A. Wilson photos
1929 Duesenberg and 1937 Bugatti 57SC Atalante judged best in show at Detroit’s concours | Kevin A. Wilson photos

Pebble Beach may have been ready for a break with tradition last year when it awarded its coveted best of show award to a post-WWII Ferrari, but that hasn’t marked a sea-change in the classic car hobby so far. Earlier this year, the Amelia Island show gave its top awards to a 1932 Alfa Romeo and a 1930 Cord and Sunday the judges at the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, re-affirmed that the old guard still dominates. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Concours d’Elegance of America preview day

We’ve already reported on the preview day staged Wednesday for the Concours d’Elegance of America, the 37th annual automotive showcase to be held the weekend of July 24-26 at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan. But since we were there, not only with a notebook but a camera as well, we thought we’d share an Eye Candy gallery featuring the cars, motorcycle and hearse provided to whet interest in the main concours, as well as the other events that weekend. Continue reading

Supercharged sale: RM Sotheby’s previews its Motor City auction

Duesenberg's president owned this 1935 dual-cowl phaeton | RM photo by Darin Schnabel
Duesenberg’s president owned this 1935 dual-cowl phaeton | RM Sotheby’s photos (Darin Schnabel)

Supercharged cars from different eras highlight the docket for RM Sotheby’s annual Motor City auction, to be held July 25 in conjunction with the Concours d’Elegance of America at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan.

Representing the state of the supercharged automotive art and science of the 1930s is a 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ dual-cowl phaeton. Showing how things have changed, some would even say progressed, in the ensuing 70 years is a 2005 Ford GT. Continue reading

Classic Profile: 1921-26 Duesenberg Straight Eight

This Duesenberg Straight Eight has sedan bodywork by Charles Schutte | Courtesy of the author
This Duesenberg Straight Eight has sedan bodywork by Charles Schutte | Courtesy of the author

The Automobile Trade Journal of July 1, 1920, wrote, “The Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Corp. has bought a factory site in Indianapolis and plans 2,400 cars the first year of operation. In addition to a special Duesenberg engine, the car will be equipped with four-wheel brakes and an axle designed by Fred S. Duesenberg. The new car is stated to be 400 lbs lighter than those of similar power and will obtain from 18 to 22 miles on a gallon of gasoline.” Continue reading

‘Last’ Duesenberg heads to Leake auction in Dallas

The recreation of the classic Duesenberg Model J was completed in 1978 | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions
The recreation of the classic Duesenberg Model J was completed in 1978 | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions

Production of the Duesenberg Model J halted in the 1930s, its over-the-top opulence thwarted by the Great Depression. But the legendary luxury car was revived for one last hurrah in 1978 by a passionate proponent of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg company.

Glenn Pray, an Oklahoma industrial arts teacher and Cord restorer who had acquired the trademarks and all the remaining parts inventory of the defunct ACD business, decided to recreate an accurate depiction of the Duesenberg using period-correct components.

The gleaming Duesenberg was hand-built in Oklahoma | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions
The Duesenberg was hand-built in Oklahoma | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions

The result is a magnificent homage to the great Model J, hand-built in the Le Grande style on an authentic Duesenberg chassis, and accurate enough to receive the last sequential serial number from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg factory after a production gap of more than four decades.

This final Duesenberg Model J goes to auction in Dallas as part of the Leake Auction Company’s new Platinum Series of premium collector cars. The three-day auction of about 500 vehicles takes place November 21-23  at Dallas Market Hall.

The Duesenberg is expected to cross the block November 22 during prime-time Saturday bidding.

Pray is well-known among ACD enthusiasts for his earlier efforts to recreate the glory of Cords and Auburns. In the mid-1960s, he pioneered the notion of reviving true classics with the Cord 8/10 – so-named because it was an eight-tenths scale version of the famous Cord 810. Next, he created the Auburn 866 Speedster in the style of the automaker’s memorable roadster of the 1930s.

Model J creator Glenn Pray emphasized period-correct details | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions
The Model J boasts period-correct details | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions

The Model J was a different kind of revival, though. Rather than build a consumer product that evoked the originals, as he did with the Cord and Auburn recreations, Pray set out to create an authentic Duesenberg that could have been built by the Indiana automaker in the 1930s.

According to the lot description in Leake’s auction catalog, Pray designed the body by pulling molds off an original Duesenberg Model J Durham Tourister. The final configuration is of a dual-cowl phaeton.

“A sweep panel was added to the Tourister body to combine Pray’s idea of a modern-day recreation in the Le Grande style,” the description says.

In attempting to stay true to his “what-might-have-been” concept for the Duesenberg, Pray installed an Auburn-designed V12 engine, which he sourced from a fire truck. The V12 is backed by a period-correct, three-speed manual transmission.

The Auburn-designed V12 was authentically accessorized | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions
The Auburn-designed V12 was authentically accessorized | Christi Schultz/Leake Auctions

“One of the many innovations of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg empire had been the superbly engineered V12 engine for the Auburn line,” Leake says in its catalog description. “Even after the Auburn brand was discontinued, this basic engine design was kept alive and used for decades in fire engines produced by the American-LaFrance company.

“A V12 was acquired from one of these fire rigs for Pray’s Duesenberg project. He replaced and added all-original 1930s V12 accessories from his large parts inventory to recreate the classic Auburn V12 engine.”

The Duesenberg was built in Pray’s own Auburn Cord Duesenberg factory in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where the custom body was fitted with the famous Duesenberg grille, headlights and fenders originally created by industrial designer Gordon Buehrig, Pray’s longtime friend and colleague, the description says. The car stands on a set of chrome-plated Buffalo wire wheels, plus a pair of side-mount spares.

The Duesenberg is fully road ready, the seller says, having toured extensively over the years and appearing a number of times in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Indiana.

“Finished in gleaming red with deep burgundy sweep-panels, the lines of this car exude speed, elegance and luxury all rolled into one package,” Leake says. “From the dual side-mounted spare tires and outside exhaust to the front driving lights and luxurious leather interior, this Sport Phaeton paints a picture of grandeur not seen since the golden age of classic cars.”