Duesenberg Museum
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On a trip to Washington DC in the spring of 2009, I made a stop at the Duesenberg Museum.  Always being a car nut, this was an opportunity to see a collection of the best cars ever made in the United States. 

Duesenberg J Model

The Duesenberg J was the most powerful American car before World War II. Its 420-cid straight eight with dual-overhead cams and four valves per cylinder put out 265 horsepower. In 1929, the first year of Model J production, 125 horsepower was about the most that could be had in an American car. Top speed for a light-bodied Duesen­berg J was 116 mph.


Duesenberg J Model Engine

Built by Lycoming, another of Cord’s holdings and an engine-builder for many independent car companies, the Duesenberg engine wasn’t larger than many contemporary luxury-car engines, but it left most of them in the technical dust. While the predominant American design of the day was the flathead, and more sophisticated cars used "valve-in-head" (overhead valve) engines with their valves operated by pushrods and rocker arms, the Duesenberg used twin overhead cams operating four valves per cylinder. Displacement was only (?) 420 cubic inches (6.9 liters), but the engine produced 265 horsepower at 4200 rpm. (In comparison, the Pierce-Arrow V-12 of the day displaced 462 cubic inches (7.6 liters), but offered only 175 horsepower.)

Another Model J

A beautiful example of another J Model Duesenberg.


The J was a big and heavy car. The additional centrifugal supercharger surely didn’t add much to its drivability but it made the car stronger and faster. It is again hard to tell how precise is the declared horsepower of 320 Hp at 4700 revolutions. The maximum speed could exceed the 200 km/h. This mainly applies to lighter short wheelbase models but it is not hard to find reports about long wheelbase models surpassing 210 km/h.


In 1935, the fabulous AUBURN Speedster--Model 851 --was introduced to the World. Originally conceived to succeed the famed DUESENBERG Model J, designer Gordon Buehrig and chief engineer August Duesenberg were commissioned to create this sports car directly by E.L. Cord, owner of the AUBURN-CORD-DUESENBERG Companies. With its impossibly long hood, pronounced boat tail and de rigueur plated, outside exhaust pipes, the Speedster's sculpted body became an instant American Icon. In fact, few automobiles qualify so clearly as symbols of wealth and success as the Boattail Speedster with its Million-Dollar look.

Supercharged Arburn Boat Tail

1936 Supercharged Cord 810

Designed by the legendary car designer Gordon Buehrig, the Cord 810 created a sensation when it debuted at the 1935 New York Auto Show. Also known as the Baby Duesenberg, it was Cord's attempt to market a car priced between the Auburn and the Duesenberg. This model, the 810 Phaeton, sold new for $2,195, a considerable amount of money in 1936.