ericmac

Cooper Duesenberg at auction

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2 hours ago, Taylormade said:

In 1968 my wife of just a few months and I drove from Rochester to Bath, New York to a car show being held there.  The cost of the motel nearly broke us, but the next morning I walked out the door of our room and discovered a green Duesenberg convertible coupe  (top down) sitting in front of the room next door.  As I was admiring the car, the owner came out and we spent the next ten or fifteen minutes discussing the car.  He told me the car was first owned by the Wrigley family in Chicago.  I believe he said he paid $5000 for the car.  Then he gave me a ride.  It was an experience I will never forget.  I don’t remember the name of the gentleman, but he provided me with a memory that stays with me to this day, fifty years later.  I’m sure the experts on this site could tell me about the car and it’s owner, and I’d love to know about it.

 

 

Taylormade,

I think P.K.Wrigley had 5 or maybe even 6 "J"s he bought new.If nothing intervenes,maybe I can

search the "Wolff Notes" and find the one you mentioned.

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Wrigley had a farm near Lake Geneva WI that he had a large storage/garage. A friend worked on the farm and took me to see the collection. I remember a couple Duesenberg were there but no idea what models. I would have taken any car in the garage and been very happy. 

Dave S 

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At the time I saw the car, it was a medium green, solid color.  It was driven to the meet, and the owner parked it outside in the motel lot overnight.  As I remember it was a driver, not a show car, but in excellent shape - and it was fast!

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When I started this thread I never thought I'd unearth such a wealth of great information.  I appreciate it and hope it keeps on coming. Thanks everyone  

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10 hours ago, ericmac said:

When I started this thread I never thought I'd unearth such a wealth of great information.  I appreciate it and hope it keeps on coming. Thanks everyone  

 

Ericmac,

Most of this if not all was recorded by me on cassette for Ted and Gerry McPhail then of Ilderton,Ontario Canada.

They are both deceased and someone else has the 2 Duesenbergs. Ted had the Ray Wollf notes and sent them to

me when he found out he was Terminally ill.There is a hand written letter with them thanking me for the help I gave them

and for making a lot of the small parts he needed for the sedan that was being restored.It was,as far as is known,the

only short wheel base "J" with a Willoughby body.

There is a bit more about J396-209-434 and I plan to post it,maybe today.

In the early 1950's I was a teen aged boy and fell under the influence of Raydon R (Don) Thompson

and Jack Irwin. Both are now deceased,Thompson in 2009 and Irwin in 2016.They had J487 and

J467 in a garage in the Harveytown section of Huntington WV where we still live. J487 was a LWB

LeBaron DC Phaeton and J467 was a sedan of notoriety spoken of in Elbert's book on Duesenbergs.

I was immediately interested in these cars mainly because they represented NO ordinary lines of thinking

and the performance as compared to the cars of the 1940's and '50's was indeed a source of interest.

As time went on I started to come to the garage and helped with different things during the reassembly of

J487. It didn't take long for me to figure out how these cars worked in a mechanical way and I got the

job of installing the intake manifold and updraft carburetor. I also did most of the dismantling on J467

whose engine now resides in former SJ528,restored and with supercharger.It is one of the 3 Brunn Riviera

Phaetons .

Thompson and Irwin opened a garage in Huntington and had a franchise for English cars I suppose from

Max Hoffman who was the imported car guru back then.I also worked there and we had a facility for any

ACD car and other orphans. I came in from school one day and there was a V12 Lagonda with a broken

distributor cap hold down spring and I made a new one and the car went on to where ever it was going.

I learned spring making from an old gunsmith,George Killen. He and one of the possible owners of J396

were the only two reprobates I ever knew.Evil old men that would   easily shoot someone and think little of it.

One of them,Theodore Cole was mentioned in the Wolff notes.  

More later.

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It sounds like a lot of engines got moved around from car to car. Were there a lot of extra engines floating around? Or did owners just pull better engines from lesser body styles? Pull the motor from the sedan, and put it in the open car, to keep it on the road, or to sell the car?

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Interesting that ACD cars had so many engine swaps.

 

I know that a LOT of 810-812 Cords have either replacement engines or engines from another car.

 

As far as the Duesenbergs go, it's interesting to see spare engines, but what I wonder about is where are all the closed bodies that were removed to rebody to open car?  There are numerous rebodied cars, and there has to be sedan or other closed bodies out there somewhere!!

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10 minutes ago, trimacar said:

  There are numerous rebodied cars, and there has to be sedan or other closed bodies out there somewhere!!

All of the old closed bodied cars have been found. And they are being reused to make tiny homes. It is going to be a new TV show. These homes will be built for owners of small custom car shops.:lol:

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12 minutes ago, Xander Wildeisen said:

All of the old closed bodied cars have been found. And they are being reused to make tiny homes. It is going to be a new TV show. These homes will be built for owners of small custom car shops.:lol:

 

I KNEW they were out there somewhere!  I don't know, though, some of those long wheel base bodies may be too big to qualify as a "tiny" home!

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10 minutes ago, Xander Wildeisen said:

The name of the show is still up in the air, might be "living the dream" or "dwelling in a Duesey" 

 

I'd call it "Non-affordable Housing".....

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Bob Roller what ever happened to Teds duesenberg power sprint car?  Ted sold it out to the west coast Canada about 35 years ago.

cheers Pete

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2 hours ago, trimacar said:

but what I wonder about is where are all the closed bodies that were removed to rebody to open car?

 

Well, that one loose canon stood in the previous owner's yard and chopped the sedan body up with an axe. I'm kind of thinking the rest went in similar ways, but maybe not so dramatic.

 

This topic gets me thinking about provenance of old cars. Imagine being delivered a history of your car and find a few pictures of a few guys in overalls under a 2X6 gantry, lowering a Packard roadster body on you chassis in a barnyard. There are old pictures like that floating around.

 

About 25 years ago a friend of mine bought a nice looking mid-30's convertible. After the car was delivered he received a picture from the owner, as found in a field with a tree growing through it. There's some provenance. He sold the car. It was just too agitating to be around it.

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2 hours ago, Xander Wildeisen said:

The name of the show is still up in the air, might be "living the dream" or "dwelling in a Duesey" 

They are going to all be put in one area and call it Duesenburg or Duesyville. 

Dave S 

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32 minutes ago, 60FlatTop said:

 

Well, that one loose canon stood in the previous owner's yard and chopped the sedan body up with an axe. I'm kind of thinking the rest went in similar ways, but maybe not so dramatic.

 

This topic gets me thinking about provenance of old cars. Imagine being delivered a history of your car and find a few pictures of a few guys in overalls under a 2X6 gantry, lowering a Packard roadster body on you chassis in a barnyard. There are old pictures like that floating around.

 

About 25 years ago a friend of mine bought a nice looking mid-30's convertible. After the car was delivered he received a picture from the owner, as found in a field with a tree growing through it. There's some provenance. He sold the car. It was just too agitating to be around it.

For sale, only one ever built from the factory. Custom bodied Jaguar. :lol::lol::lol: 

Half Jaguar May 08 013.JPG

Half Jaguar May 08 024.JPG

Half Jaguar May 08 028.JPG

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1 hour ago, playswithbrass said:

Bob Roller what ever happened to Teds duesenberg power sprint car?  Ted sold it out to the west coast Canada about 35 years ago.

cheers Pete

 

Pete,

I think that sprint car was J105 and Ted put it in the SWB Willoughby and had J452 bell housing.

Yes,there were cars cannabilized to keep more desireable body styles on the road.The SJ528 that

is now J467 is one of these.Back in the "day" the sedans were not interesting and then some people

woke up to the fact that the total number of these cars was under 500 cars total.One of my favorites was

and is a Drham sedan with heavily skirted fenders,waterfall grill and bullet headlights and was SJ551.

It still exists but I have no idea where it is or what engine#.

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Continuing my earlier info about J396 BEFORE the engine failure.According to Ray Wolff's notes on it

that say it was new in 1931 from New York factory branch with sport sedan body*and later the Packard

roadster body NYFB in 1934.Went to W.J.Calhoun Jr in 1936.Conrad Clemans got it in Norfolk Navy Yard

in 1946. The man I mentioned earlier,Theodore Cole told me of this car at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle

shoot in Friendship Indiana in 1960 or thereabout. He described it perfectly and told of turning it upon one side in

a snow bank with no damage to the car or himself.Cole died in 1962 and was living in Wilkinsburg,Pa.

I asked him what HE did with it he thought for a minute and said "I sold it to some hillbilly lawyer in WV".

That could be the connection as he had NO idea I ever met Melvin Clemans.

*Melvin Clemans told me about the sedan being a Derham.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Going back to the earlier Thompson&Irwin  car dealership,we had as I mentioned a

franchise for English cars. MG,Morris,Riley,Jaguar and others that are obscure and

available on special order. Also the "orphan car" service.We also sold Goodyear

tires and Don Thompson used to say "Only the best of junk rolls on Goodyears."

We were contacted by Harry Schulzinger of Cincinnati Ohio to rebuild the engine on

SJ528 and we did that over a period of several months in the winter of 1951 and Spring

of 1952. Later I went with Jack Irwin in SJ528 to take his wife to Fairmont WV to see

a relative and that's when the timing chain tensioner spring broke and the engine was badly

damaged.We were on our way to see Melvin Clemans and bring one of his cars back for

whatever reason to the garage in Huntington.Mr.Schulzinger bought J467 and at his

request Don Thompson and I did a body/chassis swap from the low mile sedan SJ551

to the chassis that carried SJ528,Riviera Phaeton. We installed the Riviera body on the low miles

chassis.Later I personally dismantled engine J467 and then Mr.Schulzinger had it rebored to

3.875 and we fitted it with Jahn's high compression pistons and a Clark 5 speed transmission

which gave the benefit of overdrive in 5th gear. I understand he drove it until about 1974 and had

no trouble with it so I must assume what we did was correctly done.

The Thompson&Irwin partnership came unraveled for reasons I don't know and now never will

so I'll close with that.

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Mr. Roller, Back in the day did the Duesenberg shops get along or were just working on cars in their areas? Jim Hoe was two towns over and I never really knew him, but he would come into the Bugatti shop I worked in. After his passing a friend bought out the contents of his shop, and I helped load all the odds & ends. It was a big let down, in my mind I'd expected it to be a race car quality shop, it was far from it, but he had J's to work on up till the end. Bob 

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1937hd45

 

We were the only shop  in this area that would take in a Duesenberg.Our shop was not

a show case but we got the work done. We had moved to a larger shop that combined

an Ashland oil gas station and a lot more room. We still had the English cars and Goodyear

tires and the work area for Duesenberg was in the back of the building.That space on 3rd

ave now has a nice high rise apartment building sitting on it. It was 1120 3rd ave.

There was a nice 1930 Rolls Royce CC here and a number of Packards but Packard

was still in business and they did most of the service work for those who needed them

We had mechanics from other shops,dealers and independents stop in and not ONE of them

would take on a Duesenberg. NONE of them had any idea as to how the overhead cams worked

or why an 8 cylinder engine needed 32 valves.While lapping in the valves on J467 the man

that owned the Rolls Royce came in and asked me what I was doing and I told him and showed him.

He said "I'll never have to do that on my Rolls" and I told him it wouldn't run fast enough to wear

out.He got mad and quickly left the shop.

The only American car we serviced besides the "orphans" was a 1952 Cadillac that belonged to

a lady that didn't like the attitude of the local dealer.

We had Duesenberg owners who found out about us and we helped them whenever we could.

Some were high mileage cars and needed a complete rebuild including all bearings but at that

time those cars were owned by people of very limited means and we did little beyond plugs,points,

water pump repacking. J467's block and head were sent to Federal-Mogul I think in Northern Ohio

for rod and main bearing rebabbiting as well as cam bearings.They did beautiful work and the fits

and finishes were perfect.Crank shaft was done locally at Huntington Forge and Machine Shop on

2nd Ave which was an industrial are on a railroad line,the B&O single track to Parkersburg WV.

   There was another inquiry on the subject of Duesenbergs and it was asking about how many

spare engines are around. I think it was 2003 at Auburn I asked Randy Ema that question and

he said he knew of 60 at that time.

 

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It is nice to see you here Bob.  You have a wealth of great info.  Not sure how you remember everything since I can't remember what I had for lunch.

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AJ,

Thanks again. I will admit that I have been blessed with a good memory  but it's usually for numbers.

I still remember the phone # we had in Chicago when I was in grade school. It was AR4818.

My early background is that I was born in Elgin,Illinois on 27 March 1936 and after my father

bailed out in 1941 my mother moved the two of us into Chicago into a German neighborhood***.

I still remember enough of the language to get rid of bums,panhandlers and phone solicitors.

Working with a car such as the Duesenberg makes it easy to remember because of the rarity

of the cars and also being curious and inclined to any kind of machinery and hand skills.

I am a machinist and have a small personal shop behind our house and I spend time out there

with another hobby interest which is muzzle loading rifles. I make precision locks and triggers

for those who will pay for the time and skill set involved and it brings in a bit of extra money.

We have 2 sons,Robert Mark Roller now almost 48 and Eric Scott Roller who is nearly 46 and

5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Neither son has any interest in cars beyond what

they own. I am now 82 and I do want o pass on such information as I know to be accurate

while my mind is still working.I will NOT make up any BS to suit a story which also reflects my

dislike of novels (fiction). I love history and am very angry at our schools here for not teaching it.

They call it Social Studies I call it hogwash.

I never try to remember what I had for lunch.I THINK today I snacked on Braunschweiger and

saltines............maybe. 

*** SOME of these Germans were sympathetic to Der Fuehrer and they were visited by the FBI

and some of them did go back to Germany.

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This is one of the better threads to come along in a while!!  While I need the Roe book, I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Elbert's book at Hershey a couple years back for all of $20 (Bernie, I figure that is pretty good even with inflation!  ? ).  I have a couple others as well, that Duesenberg fans might like - Adler's book is not heavy on facts, but some nice pictures, entitled simply "Duesenberg".  I also have a copy of "The Duesenberg" by Steinwedel and Newport, that covers the history of the company, pub. 1970.  It is a shorter read but nice book as well.  Lastly, I have a copy of Duesenberg race car and passenger car archives put out by the ACD museum, which is also well illustrated, particularly on the "Pre J" cars.  While I am really a Model A & T Ford guy, it is fun to read and learn about these great cars.  

 

Any other good books out there on this marque?

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The Wrigley family owned Catalina Island at one time. In fact, the Chicago Cubs used to have their spring training there. Must have been hell for all the ballplayers, being stranded on a small island with no fun.

 

The official color for most of the island was Wrigley Green (as in Wrigley's Spearmint gum). I talked to an old-timer there who remembered  that Wrigley had a used to travel around the island in a Duesenberg - don't know if it was painted green, too. 

 

Wonder if the green Wrigley Duesengerg mentioned earlier was that particular color, too.

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