ericmac

Cooper Duesenberg at auction

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My two cents on the "missing" J lore............. all the cars are accounted for, and while there are a few that have not been seen in many years, there is a handful of people who track them and know where they are sleeping. I sniffed one out about 20 years ago, and then called Fred Roe about my "find", and he congratulated me of finding it.......he then told me six names of qualified collectors who he knew were sitting on it waiting for the sale........... he was correct, and I was offered the car and quickly outbid by 40 percent. I sat back and watched the drama unfold. It was sold to someone who had not ben one of the people who were quietly waiting to make a play on the car. Any important car..........meaning any American car valued at seven figures, has people watching them......trust me, It took me five years looking for a particular car that I was interested in(non J) and when I finally found out the owners first name and town, no less than four other people knew exactly where it was when I hinted that I found it. You can still find the bottom feeder cars that are unknown, but the very big league stuff has been being tracked since the 60's. We all want to find King Tut's Tomb of automobiles, but the truth is those days are very long gone. Even the great fun of finding a rare and valuable part at Hershey is just about over.......... just post a picture of it here and ask "what is it" or "what does it fit", you will get an answer in less than 24 hours 99 percent of the time. Lots of great cars are available for purchase, at retail or auction prices............need a particular car? Call one of the big three auction companies, they can find it for you and deliver it.........it just takes money. We are all after the steal or the deal, and they are out there, just not on the top one percent of the market. 

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Duesenbergs sure inspire a lot of stories -- here are 4 possibly related ones.

1) I had my car at a local show one day and a spectator came up to me and said, "I've always wanted to see one of these because my uncle was killed in one." I asked him the story and he said it was the 1940s in Texas, near Mexia, which is about 100 miles south of Dallas. His uncle was in the oil business and was involved in the Mexia oilfield. He liked to drive fast and owned fast cars -- one of them a Duesenberg. While driving the Duesy one day, he passed a car going uphill and had a head-on collision with an oncoming car at the top of the hill. The spectator had no idea what became of the Duesenberg afterwards.

2) I was already aware that in the 1960s a Model J engine was found powering a saw blade at a sawmill in Northeast Texas. Multiple car club guys saw it at the time, and told me about it later. That engine had to come from somewhere. I went to the sawmill site about 15 years ago with one of the oldtimers and we found the abandoned building where the engine had been, but was now long gone. Even tracked down the widow of the sawmill owner, but she didn't know anything about it. I don't know where that engine ended up, but I did see a reference in print one time about an engine retrieved from a sawmill. There was also a reference to an engine salvaged from a fishing boat in Panama (that's the engine now on display at the ACD Museum, donated by Bill Bocock). 

3) One time while talking with a ranch owner and antique car enthusiast near Giddings, a town east of Austin, he told me that his exterminator was looking over his cars one day and told them that he had once seen a front axle and wheels from a Duesenberg at a customer's barn somewhere in East Texas. Maybe part of an home-made wagon or trailer project??? 

4) At the Pate Swap Meet outside Fort Worth, in the 1980s I found a Model J Buffalo wire wheel hubcap with the "Duesenberg" engraving on it. This was before I heard the other stories, and it didn't occur to me to ask where it had come from. Duesenbergs were exceedingly rare in Texas back in the day, so it was a long shot for any Duesenberg part to show up at a swap meet here.

 

I've wondered if these four stories/finds are related. Not that I think a car is out there somewhere -- it's no doubt long gone. But a few pieces might have been salvaged.

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Someone said recently there are 60 Model J engines without chassis or cars. I have no clue if this is accurate. I suspect most display engines are just a pile of old junk parts painted and polished for display. Since the "J" had aluminum rods, and so many were thrown through the pan and block, any good used running engine back in the 50's and 60's got swapped out. Also, since it seems about 10k out of an engine in the old days was about normal before a rebuild, it becomes clear why so many cars have engine swaps and body swaps. In the 50's why restore an entire chassis. Just buy a low milage sedan or limo, do a body and fender swap. While your swapping the body it is easy to paint and upholster it, use the best chrome from both cars along with other incidentals and presto a fresh "50's or 60's restoration". Now many collectors are getting together to get all the correct parts back where they came from. Recently two cars that had motor swaps back in the early 50's were sent to Brian Joseph"s shop and put back to the way they came from the factory, presto........both cars become more desirable and valuable at the same time, and two more correct numbers matching cars are back in circulation. We see this on the W O Bently's and some of the Bugattis. Provanance , correctness, numbers matching, all add to the history and value of the cars today. Another example is the "circus wagon" era of restoring cars bright red, and placing all sorts of junk on them...... spot lights, driving lights, trunks, white walls, side mount covers, horns, ect.......the list is endless. Take a look at Pebble and Amelia as well as the ACD and other shows, all the extras are coming off, and the cars are going back to the factory color when it can be determined. The pure design as new was uncluttered and conservative in most cases, and I'm glad its going back to the way when they were new. 

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Just after WWII two brothers bought the Branchville, Ct. Shell station, at one time it was a Ford dealership, ground floor was for car storage. Both Duesenberg sedans were sold to Jim Hoe for $750.00. Wonder who is their caretaker today? Bob 

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How many of those sold in Europe survived the Second "World"War??** Randy Ema who

has more than a passing knowledge about the number of Duesenberg engines not

in a car. Is there any record of how many were sold in Europe.E.Z.Sadovitch appears

to be the biggest seller of these cars in Europe.

** Switzerland stayed out of the war for two reasons and maybe three. One was that

the citizens were heavily armed and ready,The Nazis used them as their bankers

for all looting they did during the war. After they threw the Vatican out 900 years

ago they have avoided conflicts of all kinds.

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As to the Virginia Duesenberg, or supposed Duesenberg as I'm sure many would say, I once mentioned the car and I think it was Chris that said he'd never heard of it.  I don't know if Randy knows about it.

 

My point is, and I respect everyone who's saying there's no such thing as an unknown Duesy, that if that's the case then one of the experts should know about this car.  It's not a fabricated story, I've talked to people who've seen it, I've talked to the fellow who owns or owned it.  It was on a farm or homestead outside of Boyce, Virginia, if that jogs any expert's memory.

 

Surely, then, someone knows which car is being discussed.

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Dave often times a rumor of the car is real, and the guys in the know have it parked in Ohio, instead of Virginia. Thus its a "known" car that has been moved around. (A car being out of the public eye for twenty five years is common.) The parts collection out on the west coast is an example. There was a car that was a collection of parts as far as I am familiar with, engine, frame, wheels, not even sure about front and rear ends, and a Lincoln roadster body. It was well known to the Duesenberg people, but it's  location changed over time. It then pops up on eBay or craigslist in a shipping container or storage area for sale. It was well known about for a long time, just its current location and owner were not followed. I think someone actually bought it and began to put it together. Lots of the cars that were built and assembled from the late 60's to the 2000's have very nice coachwork, but often have White truck transmissions, Lincoln rear ends, ect....... so what you end up with is a Model J with modern coachwork, but the chassis can be anywhere from 100 percent new, of a set of mixed and matched components. Transmissions, rear ends, and steering boxes seem to be always missing or needed by the people building projects. They often end up finding stuff that will work off of other cars. I don't follow what the modern coachwork cars bring, but I'm sure a 100 percent factory chassis and drive train car would bring more than a car with a modern frame, different front and rear ends, modern transmission, ect......... it's all in what purchasers are willing to accept. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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There was a story out here of a Duesenberg in Fairfield. Guy had it tucked away in a building/barn. He got it from his grandparents out of CA. The guy who talked about this, was a very colorful person. Never heard anything about it again, this would have been about 27 years ago. I am guessing it could have been a Nash. I have a Hudson truck, we all know Hudson did not make a truck. So I could tell people, it is really a Stutz sedan, turned into a pickup, that I put a Hudson script on the hood. And then people would talk about an old custom  Stutz sedan driving around Idaho. And the story would grow, and by the time word hit southern Cal. people would be talking about an unrestored one off, Stutz, custom bodied, factory race car, that is seen driving around the Boise area. Might be for sale, owner is known to drink good beer, and has a lazy eye. And then the car hunters would start looking/chasing. And following a bunch of tips, after years of searching, they would end up finding a stripped out Franklin sedan that someone said, "I think it could be a Stutz" :lol: 

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I do know of a Duesenberg J that has been out of sight for decades and is currently in pieces. It has an odd roadster body without a top and I don't know that it is the original body--it's just too odd. I have pictures but I've promised not to show them to anyone to help preserve the guys anonymity, which I understand. The current owner inherited it from his father who bought it decades ago in pieces and could only afford to restore the engine (which I believe has been sitting in the restorer's shop for the past 20 years). I've seen the engine on the stand, it's gorgeous, but I doubt it's ready to run anymore.

 

Nevertheless, it is a known car and the owner says he gets several calls a month on it, usually from dealers begging to buy it (one large, well-known dealer calls regularly with pretty flaccid offers). He gets in the impression that guys are just scanning the directory and calling everyone with a car that hasn't been seen in a while. He's fed up with them and isn't interested in selling the car and might just be keeping it out of spite at this point. He'll never be able to afford to restore it, but he thinks that someday he'll get to it. I told him to either sell it as-is and send his kids to college or get an investor partner to bankroll the restoration, show it for two years and win all the awards, then sell it and split the profits. He is too tied up emotionally and wants to restore it in honor of his late father. So it will remain in its current sad state for at least another generation...

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I was at a small local auction. I was wearing my AACA cap. I was approached by a local fellow, a non car guy, who asked if I had ever heard of a Duesenberg and if he could ask a favor. It seems his father had a Dues down south that had not been run in many many years. So many years in fact that the owner had literally no info on how to tune up or even start the car. Did I have any info I could share? I gathered up what I could and mailed it to him along with a strong caution re trying to start it himself. I received a thank you note in return and the fellow said when he eventually inherited the car he would look me up. I'm still waiting.

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

I do know of a Duesenberg J that has been out of sight for decades and is currently in pieces. It has an odd roadster body without a top and I don't know that it is the original body--it's just too odd. I have pictures but I've promised not to show them to anyone to help preserve the guys anonymity, which I understand. The current owner inherited it from his father who bought it decades ago in pieces and could only afford to restore the engine (which I believe has been sitting in the restorer's shop for the past 20 years). I've seen the engine on the stand, it's gorgeous, but I doubt it's ready to run anymore.

 

Nevertheless, it is a known car and the owner says he gets several calls a month on it, usually from dealers begging to buy it (one large, well-known dealer calls regularly with pretty flaccid offers). He gets in the impression that guys are just scanning the directory and calling everyone with a car that hasn't been seen in a while. He's fed up with them and isn't interested in selling the car and might just be keeping it out of spite at this point. He'll never be able to afford to restore it, but he thinks that someday he'll get to it. I told him to either sell it as-is and send his kids to college or get an investor partner to bankroll the restoration, show it for two years and win all the awards, then sell it and split the profits. He is too tied up emotionally and wants to restore it in honor of his late father. So it will remain in its current sad state for at least another generation...

 

 

MATT........I know that car, as well as about 100 other people. Every so often it gets shopped around.........not sure by who.........but I hear about it every few years. Biggest problem is there isn't a verifiable body builder on it.......it's 100 percent correct, but many people think the body was built by a company that isn't known for one off"s. It has nice lines, but not perfect. Both of us would kill for it in three seconds flat. Interestingly although it's one off, it probably hurts its value being a unknown/non favored builder. To place a value on it is difficult, but you can be sure the restoration would run 500-600 without too much troubble. I hope the owner gets to it someday, it's a cool car and would be fun to see it all done up correctly. The car is in all the books. 

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)

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This is a big country.  Lots of cars still hidden out there.  Maybe not Duesenberg, and maybe my mentioned Duesenberg is a rumor.

 

I didn't mean to stir up stories and rumors, just asking if experts could figure out what car I'm talking about, as I firmly believe this fellow had or has one.

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4 minutes ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Oh my, found one!! ??

20180725_163331.jpg

 

What's the other car in the picture? Is it for sale, too?

 

/derp

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Yes, 34 Packard and Stutz Bearcat butt.  Very inexpensive to run these!  Apologies for the mess, I think it's time to dust. Oh wait, they are "barnfinds"... ?

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I am thoroughly enjoying this thread. 

 

At the campfire tonight, instead of ghost stories I'll tell tales of lost Duesenbergs.

 

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Time to move this back to the top.  Here is Dick Shappy's covertible sedan.  I know phaetons are generally more desirable but I do have an affinity for these cars, as a blend of elegant lines yet sporty. While known as they say, over the years, revival after 50 years in a garage makes for a neat story, no?

 

What is everyone's favorite coachwork on these cars?  

20160618_101322.jpg

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Not a Duesenberg but a 1930 Cadillac 16 cyl Fleetwood roadster sitting in pieces in a boat house up here. The car came out of California many years ago with good intensions of restoring it. Body and frame in colour, motor and chrome done before it was left to collect dust. NO it is not for sale like many cars out there being held onto not being able to let go.

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A quick internet search pulled up this lost Duesenberg. Shipped to the Philippines in 1965, Disguised as a 65 Chevrolet long bed in order to get around customs and duty taxes. It is also one of those rebodied cars.  https://classics.autotrader.com/classic-cars/1981/chevrolet/custom/101007728

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I have a legit Duesy story. I was selling a 1933 Packard Super 8 Coupe Roadster. A guy called on the car, and wanted to trade an unrestored 29-30 Duesenberg towards it. I passed on the deal. I thanked the guy for the offer, because now I can tell people  that I turned down a Duesenberg. I just leave out that I would of had to come up with about 600K and our Packard to get the Duesenberg.:lol::huh::( 

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6 hours ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Time to move this back to the top.  Here is Dick Shappy's covertible sedan.  I know phaetons are generally more desirable but I do have an affinity for these cars, as a blend of elegant lines yet sporty. While known as they say, over the years, revival after 50 years in a garage makes for a neat story, no?

 

What is everyone's favorite coachwork on these cars?  

20160618_101322.jpg

Steve, Is that the J that came out of Rhode Island and still had the trailer hitch on it? The 250F  Maserati and trailer sold years ago. Bob 

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This is one of the most informative posts that I've seen in quite a while. While, I know very little about the cars, I do know when I see one................so, you can imagine how giddy I was, waking down the street  and seeing this parked on the corner. This was about 4 years ago.

DSC02254.JPG

Edited by stevep516
additional info (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, 1937hd45 said:

Steve, Is that the J that came out of Rhode Island and still had the trailer hitch on it? The 250F  Maserati and trailer sold years ago. Bob 

 I like this one a lot.Good looking and roll up windows plus 4 passengers.

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