What classic car combines luxury, style and elegance with the mechanical precision of a Rolls-Royce and the amazing acceleration and blinding speed of a Bugatti? You guessed it - the Duesenberg. Because of the Deusenberg's amazing attributes, the phrase “it’s a doozy” emerged in the 1930’s to describe something that had the best of everything.
The Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. was founded 1913 by the Duesenberg Brothers, Fred and August, in St Paul, Minneapolis. Born in Germany, the two brothers were self-taught engineers and built their cars entirely by hand. Although they didn’t design their cars to be racing machines, a Duesenberg set a Land Speed Record of 156 mph at Daytona in 1920. In 1921, Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix driving a Duesenberg to victory at Le Mans. As late as 1960, the Duesenberg was still the only American car to win a European Grand Prix race. In 1924, 1925, and 1927, it was a Duesenberg which won at the Indianapolis 500.
Their numerous victories on the race track didn’t help them sell their first mass produced vehicle - the Model A. Although this model was considered extremely advanced, with features such as dual overhead cams, four-valve cylinder heads and the first hydraulic brakes offered on a passenger car; the company went bankrupt and closed in 1922. In 1925 Errett Lobban Cord, the owner of Cord Automobile, bought the company for the Duesenberg Brothers' engineering skills and the brand name to produce luxury cars - the Models J and SJ.
Quickly the Duesenberg became one of the most famous cars in America, owned by the rich and famous - Clark Gable and the Duke of Windsor to name a few. Duesenberg advertised itself to be the best car in the world without much opposition, but unfortunately had to cease production in 1937 after Cord's financial empire collapsed. Of 481 models produced between 1928 and 1937, 384 are still around - 4 of them being owned by Jay Leno.