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.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
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

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
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

+1 203 912 7168
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

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
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

+1 617 513 0388
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

+1 954 566 2209
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

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
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

+1 717 623 1638
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

+1 805 231 6410
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 352 4575
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

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
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

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
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

+1 519 784 9300
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

+1 310 559 4575
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

+31 653 84 19 60
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