Motor City

26 July 2014

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Lot 126

1925 Duesenberg Model A Touring by Millspaugh & Irish

  • Chassis no. 989
  • Engine no. 1372

Sold for $264,000

88 bhp, 260 cu. in. SOHC inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front and live rear axles with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 134 in.

  • The original road going Duesenberg
  • An exceptional award-winning restoration
  • ACD Club Certified Category One
  • Excellent for ACD Club and CCCA activities

The Duesenberg brothers had been involved in other road cars before 1920, with the most famous of them being the Mason and Maytag automobiles, where their career had begun, and the Rochester “walking beam” engine, which was employed in such Jazz Age obscurities as the RoameR and ReVere. It was in November 1920, specifically at the New York salon at the Hotel Commodore, when the men who had birthed numerous successful racing cars finally put their own name on a passenger car of their own design.

The Model A was powered by a 260-cubic inch straight-eight engine that was developed with a single overhead camshaft to actuate two valves per cylinder, which resulted from Duesenberg’s experience winning at Indianapolis. The engine, producing 88 horsepower, was mounted on a ladder-style chassis frame of rather conventional design, and it had a three-speed sliding gear transmission and four-wheel hydraulic brakes. It was the latter that was the Model A’s real innovation, and it shared honors with the Rickenbacker and the one-off Colonial as one of the first American automobiles to be so-equipped. The Model A was swift and roadable, and it was as close as any 1920s automobile ever came to being a “driver’s car.”

Between 1921 and 1926, when it was purchased by E.L. Cord, the Duesenberg factory in Indianapolis produced some 500 Model As. Many were outfitted by Duesenberg’s favored coachbuilder of this era, Millspaugh & Irish, just as this classic, sporting five-passenger touring style is.

This Model A, chassis number 989, is believed to have been purchased from Dan Turner by John R. Hoggatt, an early enthusiast, in its hometown of Indianapolis. It was later acquired by well-known collector Homer Fitterling, of South Bend, Indiana, and along with the rest of Fitterling’s automobiles, it eventually passed to “carpet king” Ed Weaver, of Dalton, Georgia, in 1989. Following Mr. Weaver’s untimely passing in 1993, his vast car collection was sold at a landmark auction. The Duesenberg was then acquired by Bob Townsend, of Oklahoma.

Robin Onsoien, a second-generation member of a well-known California car collecting family, purchased the Model A from Mr. Townsend’s estate in 2004. He spent the next three years performing a complete mechanical restoration, and he also refinished the body in its present black and scarlet livery, fitted new black leather upholstery and a tan canvas top, and replated all of the nickel trim, with the addition of a clearcoat finish to protect the trim for the future.

Mr. Onsoien proceeded to drive his Duesenberg some 3,500 miles during four years of active touring all over the West Coast. It was honored with First Junior and First Senior awards at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club’s West Coast Meet in 2007 and 2008, proving its capability as a car that “both shows and goes.” Importantly, it has also been certified by the ACD Club as a Category One original car.

This iconic Midwestern automobile, which has been well preserved in its current ownership, is one of only about three dozen Model As in existence, and it arguably represents the purest form of the Duesenberg brothers’ vision for their automobile. It is perfect for CCCA CARavans and Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club tours and events, and it is offered here with considerable pride.

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

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

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

Annette Abaci

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With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney Ruprecht graduated from Boston University in 2013 with a degree in Hospitality Administration. In ... read more

Dan Warrener

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Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

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. He is a lifelong automobile enthusiast and g... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Sotheby's in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and re... read more

Ian Kelleher

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New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

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Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Sotheby's in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in ... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Ontario, Canada

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

Jonathan Sierakowski

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Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a restoration shop as a teenag... read more

Kurt Forry

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Indiana, United States

Kurt Forry joins Auctions America with more than a decade of experience on the North American auction scene and a well-rounded knowled... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby's, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Gra... 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 ho... read more

Peter Wallman

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United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Rob Myers

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Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... 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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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a car specialist. A... read more