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Am wondering if a book was ever published, listing the model # and original body builder for each car? ( and maybe photos)

In todays market, which J models are still complete and which ones have become organ donnors or vanished? How many complete cars are there from the original run of chassis?

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+1 on what Curt said.

That status of each body, chassis and engine is well known within the very small community of Duesenberg experts. I would think that if someone tried to publish that information it would create untold problems for the author. I think it's a good idea that anyone buying a Duesenberg knows that they are doing. Some of the auction descriptions I've seen make my head spin, but you can usually get an idea of what is really going on by what they don't say.

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Certain models seem to change hands quite often among the auction houses and was just wondering if 200-300 or what # are approx left? Which body builders other then Murphy or Rollston built the custom bodies.

A heads up specifically on J 117 and J 316 by chance and what bodies they were originally built with???

We aren't talking Fort Knox here. I was inferring a book printed perhaps years ago and not today.

There was a day when Duesenbergs were used for pig carts after all....

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Chris Summers or Randy Emma can tell us the survival rate. I believe it is high. The best you can do for a book is Fred Roe's pursuit of perfection. It has an appendix with a list of re bodied chassis numbers.

Since all Duesenbergs were delivered in chassis form they are all custom bodies in that sense. There were a number of "standard" bodies such as the Murphy Conv coupe or Conv Sedan that were built in fairly high numbers (say 20-30 of each). Off the top of my head the following American coachbuilders constructed at least one body for Duesenberg:

1. Murphy

2. LeBaron

3. Bohman & Schwartz

4. Brunn & Co.

5. Derham

6. Dietrich

7. Holbrook

8. Rollston

9. Willoughby

10. Walker


12. Wood & Son

Also there were a number of European bodies built and mounted on J chassis.

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After Auburn in 1980, I rode back with Ray Wolff, partly because Joe Kauffmann was worried about him driving a long distance by himself at night. He told me that as many as 50 J Duesenbergs were unaccounted for in Europe. I guess that of the Goths, Huns, and Vandals that worried the Romans at the end of their era of supremacy, at least the Goths are still noted for their architectural contributions. Maybe despite the modern efforts of the latter there may still be something hidden but not unappreciated there.

I never thought I could aspire to own a Duesenberg of any type: I asked Ray if he knew of even an A engine that I might aquire. He said that his friend in Mexico City had an A cut into a racing car that he wanted to sell. Ray was very persistent when I was intimidated by the logistical difficulties. I have what I regard as probably the best and most advanced car of the early 1920's, built for performance, efficiency, lightness, rigidity, and reliability, with workmanship and elegance of component design that compares favourably with anything. It has never worried me to have any car that is less than an unaltered original. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and if a car is recontructed with authentic form and performance, from disparate remains of lost originals, then that is admirable. That is not to disparage the importance and value of those that are absolutely original. The only problem arises through misrepresentation by pajeros.

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Ivan, I think that was a bit of hyperbole on Ray Wolfe's part. The total number of European bodied Js may not be 50 although I don't know the actual number. I think the total number of unaccounted chassis is not many and may be as few as a couple dozen total.

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You may be right now, but that was a conversation we had in 1980. You quoted European bodied cars, but the number of cars that went to Europe may be quite different. There has surely been a lot of myth that can never be verified. I do know that Alfredo Miranda was one of Ray's information sources; and he exported and probably imported a number of makes of significant cars.

I still have all the letters that Ray sent me from 1964. His typed letters were nearly as difficult to read as his handwriting. Eventually he insisted on sending copy of his A model listings, but it is very difficult to get much from them when so many cars and parts have changed hands since, because there were multiple owners whose ownership was probably not clearly defined, and also the list included cars that may not have existed for very many decades. I am sure Fred Roe was, and Randy Ema is more rigorous in arrangement of their records.

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Gentlemen, thank you for your take on the subject. It appears that the information on this topic is less popular then I would have suspected, and I am sure Randy Ema has no interest in divulging this information.

I for one have no interest in ever owning a Duesenberg, just interested in the history, if you will. Thought there would be greater public knowledge of the marque and body styles. Interesting how in history countless books have been written of fine artists and their works and that the Duesenberg is kept in the dark, despite the greatness of the marque....

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The original chassis number, engine number and body style/builder has been published, first in J L Elbert's book "Duesenberg, the Mightiest American Automobile" during the 1960s, and several books since, including the "Duesenberg Buyer's Guide." As for detailed info on later changes/modifications, as mentioned they do show up in the auction catalogs. If I remember correctly, the Duesenberg survival rate is perhaps 70%, though not all are in original form. For example, my car, J315, started in 1932 as a high-roof limo and was rebodied in 1935 with a Lincoln Dietrich coupe, and then with a newly built exact duplicate of a Murphy dual-cowl phaeton body during the 1970s. These changes are widely known and have been published. In my opinion, far more is known about the histories of Duesenbergs than almost any other marque, with the possible exception of V-16 Cadillacs.

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Another good reference book, thoughpaper and print quality are not brilliant, is Don Butler's book "Auburn Cord Duesenberg". There are a lot of photos never published elsewhere.

The first 100 pages of Fred Roe's book are on passenger and racing cars before the J model, and including the passenger cars which used the 4 cylinder "walking beam" Rochester Duesenberg engines. There were almost certainly more of these build than all A, X, and J Duesenbergs together.

From the numbers in Freds Appendix1, over 600 A's were built and probably about a dozen X's. So there is a known survival rate of around 10%, so there may be more left to be found. In the 1930's, some A's were cut into racing cars.

Also, judging by my1923 engine, the thickness of the cylinder walls was barely as much as we might consider ideal. So you need to be very careful when boreing these oversize.

Alan Powell from Melbourne bought his car from the factory in 1923 to order when he was 23. With the highest compression ratio and axle ratio they would provide, they tested it at the speedway at 106mph before delivery, and gave him a certificate of that, which is still with the car I understand.

PS. I have always regretted that I have never been able to find a comprehensive book on Mercer. There were many more built than Duesenbergs, and something less than 200 left, which is still substantial, Mercer09.

Edited by Ivan Saxton
Postscript (see edit history)
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