|Duesenberg Model A |
Hyman Ltd. Classic Cars
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|city||St. Louis, Mo. 63146|
|The legend of Duesenberg was well-established by Fred and Augie s successful race cars long before they began production of automobiles bearing their name. The first, the Model A, was in many respects, a more pure and appropriate manifestation of their vision and concept than the later E.L. Cord-backed Model J.
The Duesenberg Model A s inline eight cylinder engine displaced 260 cubic inches with cross-flow porting into hemispherical combustion chamber with angled valves actuated by rocker arms from the single overhead camshaft. The Duesenberg Model A s features included high pressure lubrication, tubular connecting rods and an intake system with the carburetor on the exhaust side of the engine to pre-heat the intake charge, then a passage through the cylinder head to a beautiful ram s horn manifold. Its four-wheel hydraulic brakes were a first in American production automobiles.
About 600 were built and they are appreciated for their quality, innovation and performance but the Duesenberg Model A never achieved the recognition it deserves and was overlooked by custom coachbuilders and their flamboyant clientele.
That lack of vision was not evidenced when this car was commissioned in 1933 by Los Angeles connoisseur Theodore Koslov. It is a sublime, sporting expression of the best ideas and concepts of the Thirties with sleek, low, narrow two-place coachwork with teardrop fenders and a graceful tapered boattail rear deck. Its coachwork and the tall, narrow raked grille are like the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900s of Pinin Farina, but it was built years before the 8C 2900 emerged to inspire Farina s vision. So low to the ground that running boards didn t need spoil the simplicity of its purposeful body, its Woodlite headlights and matching parking lights adeptly complement the grille s shape. It is an extraordinary example of the conceptual vision of its designer and the skills of the craftsmen who built it, a true one-off without parallel in the classic era.
Koslov commissioned this unique speedster body from Bud Lyons Hollywood Boulevard shop. It utilizes a 1934 Oldsmobile hood and taillights but is otherwise completely originally built and done to very high standards. It is a particularly attractive expression in two tone light grey with dark red leather upholstery, chrome wire wheels and wide whitewall tires that complement the subtle body colors, Woodlite headlights and matching parking lights and a steeply raked, low vee windshield. The interior is dominated by a big leaf spring spoke steering wheel and engine turned dashboard with oval Duesenberg instrument panel. A Jones tachometer and switches are mounted in a separate engine turned console atop the cowl where it can be easily seen by the driver.
Over the years this car has had a well known and documented history. Circa 1937 it was owned by famed pinup artist Rolf Armstrong (described in American Weekly in a 1952 article as The Dean of Calendar Artists ) who is pictured in it with one of his favorite models, Margery Crampton, in a book about his work.
Just after World War II the fabulous short wheelbase Duesenberg Speedster came into the possession of an owner named Krueger who was responsible for swapping its Duesenberg Model A straight eight for an all-aluminum Marmon V-16 with custom dual carburetor intake estimated at 225 horsepower. In 1947 it was photographed participating in the first Cal Club sports car races at Palos Verdes. Krueger was so taken with its design and performance that in the late Forties he proposed building a series of cars based on its design.
During the Fifties it had several owners in the Los Angeles area, eventually disappearing from view in the early Sixties. It was featured in a 1973 Special Interest Autos article showing both its 1934 Duesenberg-power and later Marmon V-16 installation but without knowing its then-current location. As it turned out, it had been bought by Lew Behlman in 1962 then disassembled for restoration. It was acquired from Behlman by Charlie Jones, then from Jones by W.R. (Ray) Radford of Vancouver, Washington in 1979.
Radford embarked upon a careful restoration to restore the Duesenberg Model A Speedster as close as possible to its original Duesenberg-powered configuration, acquiring a correct Duesenberg Model A engine (#1430) from James Brucker s Movie World collection in January 1979. He entered into correspondence with designer Strother MacMinn to find period photos of the Speedster which MacMinn took in the Forties and Fifties as well as to enlist MacMinn s advice on the car s appropriate appearance. Noted particularly in the restoration by restorer Randall Johnson was the quality of the precisely fit and formed custom built body panels.
The design, with sweeping teardrop fenders, shield-shaped grille mimicking the shape of the Woodlites, low-slung narrow body, dramatic vee windshield and boattail rear deck were dramatic in the mid-30s and is no less so today, a design that Gordon Buehrig, Fred and Augie Duesenberg, Pinin Farina or even Joseph Figoni would be proud to call their own. Its unique design, documented history and preservation are complemented by excellent performance and would be ideal for any of the many prestigious open road tours and events for quality, high performance, beautiful and rare classic cars.
As well documented as it is, much of its history remains to be elaborated. With photo-documented early Cal Club racing history in the Palos Verdes Road Races it has a strong shot at entry in any event accepting cars with Forties racing history.
But more than that, its coachwork is sleek, handsome and developed, with elements of the best of Thirties design from Auburn and Alfa Romeo. It looks as great as the primal vision of Fred and Augie Duesenberg should be, the direct descendant of their Indianapolis-winning race cars.|
Sold on the 28.02.2013
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