Automobiles of Amelia Island

13 March 2010

From the Estate of Mr. John O'Quinn

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Lot 176

1925 Duesenberg Model A Phaeton

Sold for $104,500

88 bhp, 260 cu. in. eight cylinder engine with overhead camshafts, three-speed transmission, beam axle front suspension, live axle rear suspension, longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 134"

Fred and August (Augie) Duesenberg were self taught engineers who emigrated to America. In the new country, they established an amazing reputation for building sports and racing cars, beginning in the early 1900s. Inspired by contemporary French engineering – such as the much admired Peugot that proved the viability of the overhead valve, twin cam configuration – they soon developed their own reputation for building fast and reliable racing cars.

During World War I, they supported the war effort building aircraft and marine engines in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After the war, the two brothers decided to pursue passenger car production, and they sold their factory and moved to Indianapolis, which was, at the time, the center of advanced automotive engineering in America. They opened Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company in 1920.

The new car, called the Model A, was extremely advanced for its time. It was the first production car to feature hydraulic brakes and the first production engine with four valve cylinder heads and an over head camshaft. Unfortunately, it was very expensive and sold poorly, with just 667 units built when production ended in 1927.

Neither brother was very business oriented, and when the company failed to flourish, they decided to turn its operations over to two investors named Van Sant and Rankin. Unfortunately, they made off with all the money, leaving Fred and Augie struggling to survive. Ultimately, the company filed for bankruptcy, from which it would be rescued by Erret Lobban Cord, who needed a flagship model for the automotive empire he was building.

While the early history of this example is not known, in the late 1980s or early 1990s, it was part of another very large Houston collection owned by Jerry J. Moore. In December of 2003, Moore sold this car to John O’Quinn, and it became one of the first Duesenbergs he purchased.

The car was restored many years ago but remains in presentable driver condition. It is finished in red with maroon fenders and beltline, a tan canvas top, chrome wire wheels with wide whitewalls and a tan leather interior. The upholstery and carpets show minor stains and patina, although there are no cracks, rips or tears. The chrome is generally quite good, particularly the radiator shell and front bumpers, although there is some minor pitting around the windshield frame. The panel fits are slightly off; the engine bay shows signs of recent maintenance but will require detailing to be presentable for show purposes.

The car is well equipped, fitted with a rear-mounted chrome spare, accessory folding rear windshield and a radiator-mounted Duesenberg Boyce Motometer temperature gauge.

The Model A Duesenberg was quite literally the foundation of an automotive legacy. It was the car that earned the reputation that attracted Errett Lobban Cord and lead directly to the mighty Model J – the car that coined the phrase “She’s a real Duesey” to refer to anything supremely desirable and the best of its kind. Even today, the stance and presence of the Model A shows the lines that would one day make it the most desirable car in all of America.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

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Ontario, Canada

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David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

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Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more