The Duesenberg Luxury Car Legacy, By Charles Goodman

From 1913 until 1937, the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc., produced luxury cars that are among the finest American vehicles ever made. The company was started by two brothers who were self-taught engineers. Constructing vehicles by hand, these excellent artisans produced mechanically precise vehicles that had the capacity for great acceleration. Duesenberg vehicles became favorite racing cars among drivers who won championships at Daytona, the Indianapolis 500, and Le Mans, a site for the European Grand Prix.

Although the Duesenberg brothers were excellent engineers, they did not possess the business skills to keep the company afloat. After selling fewer than 500 cars, the Duesenbergs sold their company in 1925 to the owner of Cord Automobile, who used their engineering expertise to manufacture a new line of luxury vehicles, the models J and SJ. The muscle car of its time, the model J had a 420-cubic-inch, twin-cam, 32-valve, straight-eight engine with 265 horsepower. Between 1928 and 1937, the company produced only 481 automobiles. Duesenberg owners of that era were among the wealthiest individuals, including celebrities Clark Gable and the Duke of Windsor.

Today, avid classic car collectors compete for the few Duesenberg autos that become available. Coveted for their elegant appearance, sheer power, and sophistication, only about 384 of the total manufactured exist today. Among the lucky owners is comedian Jay Leno, who has titles to four Duesenbergs, including the rare Model X, which is one of only 13 produced.

About the author:

Named by the publication Sports Car Market as one of the “Top 50 North American Collectors of 2006,” San Francisco area real estate professional Charles Goodman is a long-time vintage car enthusiast. He participated in the Duesenberg Tours of 2007 and 2008. As a prominent philanthropist, Mr. Goodman has served as the Chairman of many classic car fundraising events, such as the Marin Sonoma Concours d’Elegance, which benefits various charitable organizations.

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