Virgil Exner with his 1966 Duesenberg
Virgil Exner with his 1966 Duesenberg

This one’s a real Duesy

Concept car collector and restorer, Joe Bortz, has his one-of-a-kind 1966 Duesenberg for sale in the USA.

He’s asking $A650,000.

The Big D is the only example of a project by a group of American businessmen who attempted to resurrect the legendary Duesenberg marquee half a century ago.

The plan was to recreate a 1960s version of the classic 1930s Duesenberg.

The essential elements of the car would be huge power, glamorous styling, a monster body, more luxury features than any other car on the road and a price that excluded 99.9999 per cent of the population.

The new company’s Chairman of the Board was Fred Duesenberg, who’s father August (“Augie” to his mates) and Uncle Fred had founded the original company way back in 1913.

The design work was given to Chrysler’s former design boss, Virgil Exner, who said at the time: “It will be styled  in the modern classic manner, with an emphasis on elegance. The car will be distinctive and easily recognised.”

Exner certainly made it recognisable.

He penned a massive, seven metre long four-door sedan.

It boasted a two-metre long bonnet, clamshell mudguard shapes, hidden headlamps, a razor sharp roof line and a large square, chromed grille that harked back to Dusenbergs of the 1930s.

The production assignment was awarded to Ghia in Italy, who’s craftsmen hand-shaped panels around a Chrysler Imperial chassis and a 7.2 litre Chrysler V8.

The price, in 1966, was estimated at “around” $A25,000.

By comparison, a VW Beetle cost just $A1700.

Despite the sky high price, the usual bunch of rich 1960s Hollywood celebrities placed orders, along with a mandatory $A6500 deposit.

First in line was comedian Jerry Lewis.

The press release said the company would produce 2000 cars a year.

But like all of these grand ideas, the weak link was the money.

Fred and his mates had enough cash to build the first car and that was it.

No more Dusey.

But all was not lost.

Some of its styling motifs were later seen on the four-door Ford Thunderbird and late 60s Chrysler Imperials.

Joe Bortz’s asking price of $A650,000 will probably be met, despite being – and who could resist the pun – a real duesy.

David Burrell is the editor of

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