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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc.
Industry
  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Engine manufacturing
FoundedSaint Paul, Minnesota, United States (1913 (1913))
Founders
Defunct1937; 85 years ago (1937)
FateDissolved
Headquarters,
United States
Number of locations
1
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Products
ParentAuburn Automobile Company

Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company, Inc. was an American racing and luxury automobile manufacturer founded in Indianapolis, Indiana, by brothers Frederick and August Duesenberg in 1920. The company is known for popularizing the straight-eight engine and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. A Duesenberg car was the first American car to win the 1921 French Grand Prix and Duesenbergs won the Indianapolis 500 in 1924, 1925, and 1927. Transportation executive Errett Lobban Cord acquired the Duesenberg corporation in 1926. The company was sold and dissolved in 1937.

History

Duesenberg Indianapolis 500 racing car, winner 1922
Duesenberg Indianapolis 500 racing car, winner 1922
Share of the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Co., issued 13. June 1921
Share of the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Co., issued 13. June 1921

Frederick and August Duesenberg began designing engines in the early 1900s after Frederick became involved with bicycle racing.[1] The brothers designed a vehicle in 1905 and in 1906, formed the Mason Motor Company with funds from lawyer Edward R. Mason in Des Moines, Iowa.[1] Frederick Maytag I and Elmer Henry Maytag acquired a majority stake in the company and renamed it the Maytag-Mason Automobile Company until they sold their stake in 1912.[2] The Duesenbergs moved to Saint Paul (city), Minnesota and established the first iteration of the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company. Eddie Rickenbacker drove the first Duesenberg-designed vehicle to race at the Indianapolis 500 in 1914, placing tenth. The brothers sold their Saint Paul factories in 1919.[3]

During World War I, the Duesenbergs designed and built aircraft engines in Elizabeth, New Jersey. They relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1920 and re-launched the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company, manufacturing the Duesenberg Model A.[4] The Duesenberg brothers assumed engineering roles after signing over the naming rights and patents for Duesenberg engines to promoters Newton E. Van Zandt and Luther M. Rankin.[5]: 40  The first Model A was commissioned by businessman and politician Samuel Northrup Castle. The car had a 260 cubic inch straight-eight engine that output 88 horsepower, the largest engine in a commercially available vehicle at the time, and was the first to have hydraulic brakes on all its wheels.[6][4] Duesenberg continued to build race cars as well, and a Duesenberg race car won the 1921 French Grand Prix, the first American car to do so. Duesenberg cars also performed well at the Indianapolis 500 during the 1920s, winning the race in 1922, 1924, 1925, and 1927.[1][7]

Van Zandt left the company in 1921 and it struggled financially and entered receivership in 1924.[5]: 42  Duesenberg was purchased by Errett Lobban Cord in 1926. August's role in the passenger car side of the business declined after Cord's takeover, and August worked primarily in the Duesenberg's racing division after 1926, designing all Duesenberg race cars built from that year until the company's dissolution.[8]: 367  Two years later, Cord had the Duesenbergs make a new model to "outclass" all other American cars. In 1929, the company began selling the Duesenberg Model J, which was powered by a 265-horsepower straight-eight engine. The body and cabin were custom-built by coachbuilders. Prices for the cars ranged from $14,000 to $20,000 at the time.[4] Duesenbergs were considered to be among the most luxurious American cars ever made. Historian Donald Davidson called them the "most prestigious passenger car" in American history and likened them to an American version of the Rolls-Royce.[9] The vehicles were popular with movie stars, royalty, and other wealthy individuals. The company was sold by Cord and dissolved in 1937.[4] The last Duesenberg to be made by the original company was completed in 1940, commissioned by German artist Rudolf Bauer and completed by August Duesenberg after the company had shut down.[10]

Revivals

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to revive the Duesenberg name.[9] August Duesenberg failed to restart the company in 1947, and an attempt by his son, Fritz, and car designer Virgil Exner to revive the brand failed after the production of one concept car in 1966.[11][12] In 1978, Heritage Elite Motors started producing handmade Duesenberg replicas in Elroy, Wisconsin, under the name Duesenberg Motors Company.[13] The "Duesenberg II" retained the styling of the cars from the 1920s and 1930s, but included some modern updates, such as stereo systems, air conditioning, and an automatic transmission.[14] The company produced several models, including the Torpedo sedan and phaeton, and the Murphy roadster.[13] The factory closed in 2001.[15]

Products

Model A (1921–1927)

1923 Duesenberg Model A touring car at the Louwman Museum
1923 Duesenberg Model A touring car at the Louwman Museum

Duesenberg's first car was the Model A. It is powered by the Duesenberg Straight-8 engine and was the first car to be mass-produced with a straight-eight.[6] The purchase price for a Model A started at $6,500 ($103,378 in 2021 dollars [16]),.[17]: 51  The Duesenberg Model A introduced several innovative features, such as an overhead camshaft, four-valve cylinder heads, and the first four-wheel hydraulic brakes offered on a passenger car.[4][5]: 40  It had the largest engine of any consumer vehicle at the time of its production.[6]

The Duesenberg Model A experienced various delays going from prototype to production. Deliveries to dealers did not start until December 1921.[5]: 40  Sales lagged and Duesenberg could not meet a 100 vehicles per month quota as the Indianapolis plant struggled to roll out one a day. In 1922, no more than 150 Duesenberg Model As were manufactured, with only a total of 650 units sold over a period of six years.[17]: 52 

Model X (1926–1927)

Main article: Duesenberg Model X

The Model X is a sportier version of the Model A with a heavier and longer (136 in (3,500 mm) wheelbase) chassis and 100 hp (75 kW) engine that enabled it to reach 100 mph (161 km/h).[18] The most notable differences between the A and X were that the latter had hypoid differentials and all its valves were on one side.[8]

The Duesenberg Model X chassis, is an upgrade over the Model A chassis, offering a reworked 260 cu. in. straight-8 engine, an overhead cam, with a new crankshaft, revised valve train, improved pistons and superior intake manifold. Power is 100 hp, which made driving at 100 mph possible. The chassis length increased to 136 inches, with additional reinforcements. Improved leaf springs are mounted above the frame rails, thus, lowering the center of gravity. The Duesenberg Model X chassis is the rarest Duesenberg street production chassis ever made, with only 13 ever manufactured. Only five of the Duesenberg Model X models manufactured are known to have survived. The majority of the Model X models are thought lost to the patriotic U.S. WW II scrap metal drive campaigns. [19]

Model J (1928–1937)

1930 J Walker La Grande Torpedo Phaeton
1930 J Walker La Grande Torpedo Phaeton

The first Model J prototype was created in 1927 and the first cars were delivered in 1929, shortly before the onset of the Great Depression. Around 300 Model Js were completed by 1930, short of the original 500-vehicle goal.[20]

Model J engine
Model J engine

The car's engine was based on the company's racing engines of the 1920s and were manufactured by another Cord company, Lycoming.[21]: 73  It output 265 horsepower (198 kW), aided by dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, making it the most powerful car of its time.[20][21]: 72  The Model J was capable of a top speed of 118 mph (190 km/h), and 88 mph (142 km/h) in second gear. Duesenberg historian Randy Ema wrote that the Model J spurred change in engine design, "single-handedly (starting) the horsepower race that drove the number of cylinders from twelve to sixteen," but noted those engines still could not match the Model J's power output.[20]

Only the chassis and engine of the Model J were displayed, as the body and cabin of the car were custom built per custom for luxury vehicles at the time. The company's chief body designer, Gordon Buehrig designed around half of the Model J bodies, while the remainder were designed by coachbuilders around the world, including Gurney Nutting, Murphy, and Derham, among others.[22]: 372 

The J was available in two versions of chassis with a different wheelbase; a longer one (153.54 in (3.90 m)) and a shorter one (about 141.73 in (3.60 m)). There were also other special sizes, like the SSJs with a wheelbase shortened to 125 in (3.18 m) and a few cars with the wheelbase extended to 160 in (4.1 m) and over.[18]

The supercharged Model J, referred to as the SJ, was reported to have reached 104 miles per hour (167 km/h) in second gear and have a top speed of 135–140 miles per hour (217–225 km/h) in third gear. Zero-to-60 mph (97 km/h) times of around eight seconds and 0–100 mph (0–161 km/h) in 17 seconds were reported for the SJ despite having an unsynchonized transmission, at a time when even the best cars of the era were not likely to reach 100 mph (160 km/h). The SJ had a wheelbase of 142.5 in (362 cm).[23] The SJ was introduced in 1932. Only 36 units were built.[8]: 367  A special version of the SJ, the Mormon Meteor, broke several land speed records.[24]

Investors in New York City originally supported the Model J, but following the Stock market crash of 1929, the market for Model Js switched to Hollywood stars.[20] Two modified Model Js, known as the SSJ, were produced in 1935 for actors Gary Cooper and Clark Gable. The SSJ reportedly produced 400 hp (298 kW) and could go 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in less than 8 seconds. Cooper's SSJ sold for $22 million in 2018, making it the most expensive American car ever sold at auction at the time.[25] About 378 of 481 Model Js of all types still existed as of 2002.[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Vanderstel, Sheryl D. (November 22, 1994). Bodenhamer, David J.; Barrows, Robert G. (eds.). Duesenberg, Fred S. and August S. "Augie". Indiana University Press. p. 513. ISBN 978-0-253-11249-1. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  2. ^ Barthelman, Ken (June 2, 2015). "Historic Maytag-Mason automobile now on exhibit". Newton Daily News. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  3. ^ Spaulding, George (April 28, 2007). "High-end carmaker was 'duesey'". The Post and Courier.
  4. ^ a b c d e Buttermore, Gregg (November 22, 1994). Bodenhamer, David J.; Barrows, Robert G. (eds.). Duesenberg. Indiana University Press. pp. 513–514. ISBN 978-0-253-11249-1. Retrieved March 29, 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Borgeson, Griffith (1984). Errett Lobban Cord: His empire, his motorcars: Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg. Princeton, New Jersey: Automobile Quarterly Publications. ISBN 0915038358.
  6. ^ a b c Shaw, Kristin V. (February 13, 2021). "1921 Duesenberg Model A Belonged to the Same Family for Almost a Century". The Drive. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  7. ^ Gershkovitch, Eli; McEwen, Harvey (September 3, 2004). "Real doozy debuts at Concours: Duesenberg to be seen Saturday was owner's 53-year labour of love". The Vancouver Sun.
  8. ^ a b c Wolff, Raymond A. (Spring 1966). "Duesenberg: It's a grand old time". Automobile Quarterly. No. 4. Automobile Quarterly Inc. ISBN 9781596131156. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  9. ^ a b Pointer, Michael (May 27, 2007). "Legendary landmarks". The Indianapolis Star.
  10. ^ Apen, John (April 13, 2007). "The Longest Duesenberg". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  11. ^ Jedlicka, Dan (January 24, 1999). "Marriage of muscle and magic; No car holds a candle to Duesenberg". Chicago Sun-Times.
  12. ^ Phelan, Mark (July 14, 2019). "The Last Duesenberg is about to go to auction". Detroit Free Press. Gannett.
  13. ^ a b Flammang, James M. (February 13, 2002). "Duesenberg, muscle cars highlight Volo exhibit". Chicago Tribune.
  14. ^ Wilno, Donald L. (February 25, 2000). "It's not a real doozie, but a good replica". Asbury Park Press.
  15. ^ Damask, Kevin (April 2, 2016). "Elite Heritage Motors employees reunite; Elroy plant produced classic Duesenberg II". Juneau County Star-Times.
  16. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Mueller, Mike (2006). American Horsepower: 100 Years of Great Car Engines (1st ed.). Motorbooks. ISBN 978-0-7603-2327-4.
  18. ^ a b Kimes, Beverly Rae; Clark Jr., Henry Austin; Dunwoodie, Ralph; Marvin, Keith (1996). Standard catalog of American cars, 1805-1942 (3rd ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. ISBN 978-0873414289.
  19. ^ "The Duesenberg Model X - the Rarest of the Production Duesenbergs". April 22, 2019.
  20. ^ a b c d Ema, Randy (August 8, 2007). "The Duesenberg: The Grandest Yet". MSN. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  21. ^ a b Cheetham, Craig, ed. (2006). Vintage cars (Annotated ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks. ISBN 9780760325728.
  22. ^ Buehrig, Gordon (Spring 1966). "I remember the Duesenberg". Automobile Quarterly. No. 4. Automobile Quarterly Inc. ISBN 9781596131156. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  23. ^ Cheetham, Craig, ed. (2006). Ultimate American cars. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks. ISBN 0-7603-2570-7.
  24. ^ Leno, Jay (February 22, 2009). "Jay Leno: Duesy Set Bonneville Records in 1930s that Stand Today". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  25. ^ Berk, Brett (November 18, 2016). "Driving Gary Cooper's 1935 Duesenberg SSJ". Car and Driver. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  26. ^ Georgano, G. N. (2002). A world of wheels: Early and vintage years 1886-1930; The golden era of coachbuilding. Broomhall, Pennsylvania: Mason Crest Publishers. ISBN 9781590844915.


This page was last edited on 13 August 2022, at 03:44
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