The Duesenberg, 1966

THE WAY IT WAS
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Photograph courtesy of The Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

1966 The Duesenberg, or “Duesy” as it was sometimes called, was one of the most luxurious rides in automotive history. Tyrone Power, Clark Gable, William Randolph Hearst, and Greta Garbo drove one. So did the Duke of Windsor and Italy’s King Victor Emmanuel III. Mechanically and stylistically, the Duesy, most of which were built in Indiana, exuded prestige and elegance. Founded by brothers and largely self-taught engineers August and Fred Duesenberg in 1913, the company was bought by industrialist E.L. Cord in 1926, but the firm foundered in 1937. Despite its demise, there were several efforts to revive the classic car. In the late ’40s, August Duesenberg tried to bring the company back, to no avail. Then, in the mid-1960s, August’s son Fritz teamed up with former Chrysler designer Virgil Exner to create a modern version of the Duesy using a 1966 Chrysler Imperial chassis and a Chrysler engine. The result was this 1966 Duesenberg Model D concept, with hidden headlamps and clamshell fenders, and built by Ghia. It’s seen here in the lobby of the old Statler Hotel in downtown Detroit. However, the new Duesenberg never made it into production. From 1978-2000, Duesenberg II reproduction autos were made in limited numbers. Recently, Duesneberg Motors Inc. in Baldwin, Wis., announced plans to produce replica Duesys on a Ford chassis. For those interested in seeing the original, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Ind., claims to have the world’s most extensive collection of Auburns, Cords, and Duesys.

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