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Dusenberg


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About two days ago I was at the Dusenberg Museum in Auburn Indiana.

Today I looked on the Web to see what famous person owned that car.

I found out that Greta Garbo owned one. Does anyone know any other famous actor who owned that car?

 

The Dusenberg Museum in next to the National Automotive And Truck Museum Of The United States. They had a lot of cool older cars, including one of the General Lee's from the Dukes Of Hazard. It was cool but it would have been cooler if they had the Batmobile. Oh well, you can't have everything.

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hoodduesenberg.jpg

 

When watching TCM, look for this hood ornament. Audiences in the 30's knew what it stood for: class and $$$!

 

 

 

They were glamorous, flashy, sexy, powerful, super expensive, head turning, always one of a kind attention getting cars!

 

They excited both men and women. They reeked of elegance and danger- because they were so fast and powerful that it was easy to get killed in one if you weren't careful! (Most roads back then were not safe for high speed driving.) With the supercharger on, they were briefly capable of almost 10 times the horsepower of the average family buggy. Some were owned by gangsters, who appreciated that they could outrun any police car.

 

In an era that was a high water mark for styles in many things, they defined the pinnacle of 1930's chic. Lucky was the person who could afford one in those depressed times! They could cost about the equivalent of 8 or more Cadillacs!

 

No two were alike; (as the Duesenberg company only made the engine and frame) the body had to be custom designed and built by a custom coach builder. Because the clients were rich, the coach builders could indulge in some real cutting edge stylistic fancy. Whatever the buyer wanted to make an impression. Considered too flashy for the old money "Newport 400" patricians, they were ideal for nouveaux riche movie stars who were used to attracting attention wherever they went.

 

In the 1970's, I once saw one previously owned by Mae West at a classic car auction. It was a big 1932 blue 5 seater phaeton. I think it went for around $300,000 or so, tall bread in the 70's but they are worth millions today! Seeing a number of them up close in real life, excited me and made a lasting impression. Pictures don't do them justice!

 

If you keep your eyes peeled while watching TCM, you will see Duesenbergs crop up in 1930's films. The hood ornament, which looked like it could stab someone, was always the giveaway. Ginger Rogers drives a white one in the *Gay Divorcee (1934)*.

 

 

speakthelma.gif

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Let me also add that the people who bought Duesenbergs paid cash on the barrel. One DID NOT rent or lease these things in order to put on a show for cheap. Nor was there "financing" for such purchases! A dealer would have immediately dismissed anyone who brought that up as an unqualified buyer; a banker would have lectured you to live within your means! They were few in number (only about 400 or so were made; about half of which survive today.) Duesenbergs, along with other marquees in their price class, like Rolls Royce and Hispano Suiza, were only for the seriously rich!

 

Here is a handy link cataloguing the appearances of Duesenberg cars in film and TV over the years, from the *Internet Movie Car Database:*

 

*Duesenberg In Movie and TV Series*

 

http://www.imcdb.org/vehicles.php?make=duesenberg&model=

 

Having watched TCM for many years, I suspect their list is not all inclusive.

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"...they cost the equivilent of 8 or more Cadillacs."

 

This line brought back a quick flash of memory, Thelma.

 

The first Dusenberg I saw "live" was on I-94, up on a trailer that was being PULLED by a recent model Cadillac! This was back in 1971!

 

Sepiatone

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Hi Sepiatone!

 

I too have seen a Duesenberg hauled on a long flatbed trailer. For purposes of long distance transport, that makes perfect sense. These cars are rare and valuable museum pieces, too precious to be exposed to the normal wear, tear and risk of accidental damage that goes with driving. The fact that there are only about 200 of them left and each one unique in design and appearance, is all the more reason to treat them as precious and valuable works of 20th century industrial art. No classic car owner would want to be known as the guy who wrecked a Duesenberg!

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Normally very true, Thelma, however last year I ran across a bunch of "High Rollers" here in Sedona who had trailered their extremely rare and ultra expensive classic cars such as a Duesenberg and this beautiful Delahaye here...

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT1K1qeM0E44K6KGVT451b

 

...and were driving them around northern Arizona for the weekend.

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Hi Dargo,

 

Of course, the temptation to take one out for a spin would be irresistible! The owner would have to be selective, avoiding congested streets and roads. The wide open highways of northern Arizona would be ideal to "open her up"; probably a good thing to do in order to help keep the car in good drivable condition.

 

Delahayes were very stylish French cars also featuring custom coachwork. They embodied a high point in style experimentation at the time. Very few of them were bought in the States, as the tariff on foreign cars was 100% at the time.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 26, 2013 3:28 PM

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In your Gary Cooper link, there are a couple of photos of his big long Dusenberg that look like it was wrecked..... front fenders missing, lights missing, front bumper missing, scrapes on the driver's side of the body, etc.

 

Do you know anything about this?

 

 

http://garycooperscrapbook.proboards.com/thread/489/garys-duesenbergs?page=1&scrollTo=1490

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It appears as if Coop turned his Duesy into a Hot Rod in order to maybe go high speed racing. One of the things that made Duesenbergs so desirable back in the day were their extremely rare for the times DOHC(dual overhead cam) engines, and during a time when most cars not only didn't have OHV(overhead valve/pushrod) engines but were most often just Side Valve(aka Flathead) engines.

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Hi clore,

 

I found a photo of Cooper with the stripped-down Duesenberg. The caption is in French. I translated it as this:

 

"Gary Cooper poses in front of a Duesenberg of competition"

 

It has occurred to me that the two cars might not be the same car. They might be the same or similar models, but one might have been his luxury car and the other might have been his racing car. Or, he might have posed next to some one else's racing car that was like his own car. :)

 

http://leroux.andre.free.fr/revivalduesenberg.htm

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A thought provoking nugget from wiki-

 

"Duesenberg became far less popular during World War II, by the end of which a few Model Js were advertised for around $300 to $400, with some ultimately selling for only $100 or $200. Business rebounded in the 1950s, when classic and vintage cars became popular among collectors. Several Model Js were advertised in the New York Times in 1951, at prices as low as $500. By 1959 a decent example could not be bought for less than $4,000."

 

An investment at those prices would have produced returns rivalling most any high performing stock!

 

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Too bad too many people don't think about those sort of things "at the time". Like my Grandma's long time next door neighbor, who had a 1947 Packard that when I was a kid, he would religiously polish every day. Beautiful maroon and grey two-tone model. The last time I saw it was about 1970, and it STILL looked and ran like new! When he died in 1973, my brother respectfully waited a couple of weeks until he went to the house to inquire if his survivors would be interested in selling the car.

 

Mr. Usham's( his name) daughter waved a dismissive hand saying, "Oh, THAT old thing? We had a junkyard haul it off last week."

 

My brother told me it was all he could do to keep from punching the stupid t**t's face through the screen door!

 

I myself wonder, "What if" I didn't clothespin all those Al Kaline rookie cards to the spokes of my bicycle when I was young?

 

I imagine there WERE several folks who had the opportunity to by one of those $200 Dusenbergs and passed it up for some stupid reason.

 

And I imagine some of them spent several weeks NOT being able to sit down after kicking themselves so hard!

 

Sepiatone PS: The old Packard plant is still standing. Sort of. An item in today's Free Press states that one might be able to buy IT for $21,000! It takes up a HUMONGOUS piece of land.

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Hi Sepiatone!

 

Oh I've often encountered these issues as a lifelong antique collector!

 

Sometimes we can't foresee what will become valuable someday. This often is the case for "humble" objects which may seem ordinary at the time. (Baseball cards and comic books are a classic example.)

 

Other times we can sense future value and desirability to collectors, when the object in question was originally expensive (and hence rare) and possesses some intrinsic beauty and appeal that is timeless. Duesenbergs selling for $200, certainly fall into such a category. Those cars were simply beautiful and rare one of a kind. That should have motivated any astute buyer and collector back when they were affordable.

 

Finally, valuable old things get thrown out all the time, because the (often subsequent) owners and inheritors have no idea of the value. This helps drive up prices over time on extant items in good condition. *DO NOT throw out old things without researching value!* With the advent of the internet, this is easy for anyone to do!

 

If you own valuable collectibles and antiques- make sure you specify for their proper disposition in your will! Make your family or inheritors aware of what your possessions are worth, so that they know better than to throw them away of sell for a song. Provide them with leads like auction houses and websites for selling; make it easy for them. Also, make sure there is documentation available such as descriptions, provenance, sales receipts etc.

 

My advice from a lifetime of collecting is this: develop your own sense of beauty and worth- and follow it, whatever the marketplace thinks! If you are correct in your judgement and taste, then future generations should see it the same way and pay accordingly. I once bought a set of 19th century limited edition books for 10 cents a pop at a library sale. I was attracted to the numerous beautiful engravings. I bought them because they were lovely and interesting, not thinking of future value. Eventually the marketplace agreed with me and the set now goes for $50,000!

 

Don't be like a stock speculator who buys a collectible solely with the thought of future value! Develop good taste and *buy what you love*- future value is a by-product, not a goal of collecting.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 27, 2013 11:41 AM

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Thelma, good advice.

 

But I also see these "pawn shop" TV shows, and often folks bring in old junk and ask outrageous money for them. And they're often told the same thing: "condition is everything"( much of the stuff looks like they found the item in an old cornfield), and "just because something is old doesn't make it valuble"

 

In another forum I belong to, centering on guitars and guitar players, a member posted an eBay link to someone trying to sell a 1956 Fender Stratocaster for $20,000! Nobody famous was connected to it, and the photo shows it to be quite beat up. So far, there have been NO bids on it. One forum member claimed HE would give the guy maybe $3,000.

 

Sepiatone

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Hi Sepiatone,

 

That furnishes a good lesson in valuation.

 

On collectibles and antiques, there is a HUGE spread between what a dealer will pay, versus what he will sell for! The valuations quoted on *"Antiques Roadshow"* are a good example- they are usually dealer retail sale value, and not always a realistic evaluation of a what a non-dealer seller can get. It's different when the appraiser quotes potential "auction value". (The most precious, rare and valuable items should usually be disposed of at auctions, in order to get top dollar, unless you know well heeled collectors with whom you can negotiate a private sale)

 

Bear in mind that the 20-30% an auction house will clip the seller for more is still less than the dealer spread (or discount) between retail and bid value. (In the financial industry, this is called the "bid-offer spread".)

 

When you have something truly rare and valuable to sell at auction, you don't care whether the bidder is a private buyer or in the business of reselling. If I had a Duesenberg for sale, auction would be the only way to go- and spare me weeny whining about how you have to be able to "resell for a profit!"! That would be of no interest to me! I'll gouge for top dollar whatever business you're in. Pay up or get outbid!

 

On these pawnshop shows, some sellers are reminded by the pawnbroker of the distinction between an item OFFERED at a certain sky high price, versus realised sales. Items can be put up for sale on ebay for unrealistic prices, and the seller may have to offer them for years before he gets what he wants. What matters to the potential buyer when researching internet value is the pattern (if any) of realised sales, not offering prices!

 

PS: it just surprise me whenever a prospective seller brings in a really rare and truly high value item into a pawnshop! Expect to get trimmed 50-80% off of going value! What else would you expect? (The pawnbroker can also refuse to buy at any price, claiming that he just doesn't have the clientele for such an item!) I've seen a number of items on those pawnshop shows that should really have been disposed of at auction.

 

Edited by: ThelmaTodd on Sep 27, 2013 12:27 PM

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They do that all the time on "Pawn Stars". Tell the seller that there isn't a market for something based on what their customers usually look for. And I understand that. You might have a Tiffany silver apple peeler from 1910, shaped like a polar bear. It LOOKS cool, sure. But if I were a pawnbroker, unless there was a history of people constantly coming in desperate to know WHERE they can GET one of those, I might likely pass. That the TV show's shop is located in Vegas tells you why people come into the shop willing to settle for a "lowball" offer of money for a "treasured" family object. THAT part of the show kind of angers me a bit. I mostly watch to see what off the wall interesting stuff people bring in. Like the oddball intersting junk the "American Pickers" find buried at the bottoms of years old crap piles people have.

 

I too, have a lot of what could be called rare and old items I inherited from my Grandmother. But you can tell by looking at them they were obviously bought because she liked the LOOK of them, and weren't that expensive to begin with. Anything of hers I DO have that might hold real value has too much sentimental value to me to consider EVER selling them no matter the desperation for money. And believe when I say I've had SEVERAL periods of that!

 

Sepiatone

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