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Gilmore Car Museum welcomes “Duesenberg – Celebrating an American Classic” exhibit

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Roughly 20 Duesenbergs spanning the company’s 16 years of production will be on display (on a rotation basis) at the Gilmore Car Museum through Fall 2019. All images courtesy of the Gilmore Car Museum.

For more than a decade, the Duesenberg has been professed to be the most elegant automobile every made. Certainly the most powerful, and the most expensive car on the market at the time, the Duesenberg’s performance prowess was bolstered by timeless, elegant styling from the most reputable coachbuilders of the era. Today, they are among the most desirable cars from the pinnacle of the Full Classic era, and the famed automaker will be honored in the newest exhibit, “Duesenberg—Celebrating an American Classic,” at the Gilmore Car Museum, in Hickory Corners, Michigan, through Fall 2019.

Among the Duesenbergs that will be on display is this rare Model A race car, widely considered one of the most technically advanced racing marines of its time.

Having emigrated to Iowa in the late 1880s, brothers Fred and Augie Duesenberg’s first business venture was the successful invasion of the bicycle market, including racing bicycles bearing their name. Like others, however, their attention soon turned to the advent of self-propelled carriages and the duo began production gasoline engines for the Mason Motor Car Company. Their capabilities as an engine builder were bolstered by countless wins in the early days of motorsports, which carried over to the design and construction of airplane engines during World War I. Immediately following the end of hostilities 100 years ago, the brothers sold the rights to their four-cylinder engine to Rochester Motors, which permitted them to focus their attention on the continued development of their eight-cylinder design.

The famed 1935 Mormon Meteor—featured in our Hemmings Classic Car magazine—will see limited display time, scheduled only to Spring 2019.

With racing in their blood, the brothers relocated to Indianapolis and by 1920 had designed their Model A passenger-car prototype, seen publicly in November 1920, under the auspices of the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Corporation (according to some published reports, the first regular production Model A cars did not hit the market until 1922). In 1925, the firm was reorganized as Duesenberg Motors Company, which was in turn purchased by E.L. Cord in ’26. It was Cord who famously instructed Fred Duesenberg to design a super car of the era, and thus the Model J was unveiled two years later. Several examples of the Model J will be on display, along with the famed, and rarely displayed, Mormon Meteor.

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