Duesenberg Model A Phaeton
Fred and August (Augie) Duesenberg were self taught engineers who emigrated to America. In the new country, they established an amazing reputation for building sports and racing cars, beginning in the early 1900s. Inspired by contemporary French engineering – such as the much admired Peugot that proved the viability of the overhead valve, twin cam configuration – they soon developed their own reputation for building fast and reliable racing cars.
During World War I, they supported the war effort building aircraft and marine engines in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After the war, the two brothers decided to pursue passenger car production, and they sold their factory and moved to Indianapolis, which was, at the time, the center of advanced automotive engineering in America. They opened Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company in 1920.
The new car, called the Model A, was extremely advanced for its time. It was the first production car to feature hydraulic brakes and the first production engine with four valve cylinder heads and an over head camshaft. Unfortunately, it was very expensive and sold poorly, with just 667 units built when production ended in 1927.
Neither brother was very business oriented, and when the company failed to flourish, they decided to turn its operations over to two investors named Van Sant and Rankin. Unfortunately, they made off with all the money, leaving Fred and Augie struggling to survive. Ultimately, the company filed for bankruptcy, from which it would be rescued by Erret Lobban Cord, who needed a flagship model for the automotive empire he was building.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.
88 bhp, 260 cu. in. eight cylinder engine with overhead camshafts, three-speed transmission, beam axle front suspension, live axle rear suspension, longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 134"
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel