1921 Duesenberg Model A Belonged to the Same Family for Almost a Century

Built to “outclass, outrun, and outlast” any car on the road, the Duesenberg Model A revolutionized the straight eight.

Tucked away in tiny Auburn, Indiana, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is roughly equidistant from both Detroit and Indianapolis. It’s the home of more than 120 cars, including this magnificent specimen of a restored 1921 Duesenberg Model A. After nearly a century with the same family, it was gifted to the museum just last year. All the original equipment was intact, including a case of specialized tools the driver would need to fix the Model A on the go.  

Businessman Samuel Northrup Castle commissioned the car in 1919 and became the first owner of the first passenger car Duesenberg built. He took delivery in 1921 in Hawaii, where he was the founder of sugar cooperative Castle & Cooke Co, and drove it for decades before he passed away in 1959. In the meantime, he kept his Duesenberg, a shiny tan 1929 fish-tail Packard roadster, and more classic cars in good shape. He loved his Duesie so much, in fact, that he shipped it all the way back to Indiana in the late 20s, and the Duesenberg company updated it with a Model J steering wheel, luggage rack, and lights.

Duesenberg built the chassis and engine at their Indiana plant, and coachbuilder Bender Body Company of Cleveland, Ohio, was tapped to customize the Model A. It was typical of luxury car companies to engage coachbuilders during that era, and this one was commissioned with extra length and headroom for the seven-foot-tall Castle. 

Brothers Frederick and August Duesenberg were known for building race cars, aircraft engines, and boat engines. When they first announced the Model A in 1920, they had planned on installing a conventional flathead engine. Late in the game, they threw a wrench in their production process and decided to scrap the flathead for the single overhead cam inline eight-cylinder they had been using in their race cars, which was a much more powerful option.

Frederick said the Model A was designed to “outclass, outrun, and outlast any car on the road;” the 260 cubic-inch straight 8 generated 88 horsepower with its [ … ]

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