A Night at the Duesenberg Museum

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Duesenberg J-254 is one of the most interesting Duesenberg
automobiles in existence.

A historic Duesenberg Model J will be offered by its owner at the Fourth Annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Benefit Extravaganza. The event will take place at the museum on Thursday evening, Sept. 3 in Auburn, Ind.

Duesenberg J-254 is one of the most interesting Duesenberg automobiles in existence.  The body is a Transformable Imperial Cabriolet, which features a multi-positional top. It was designed by Hibbard and Darrin in Paris using a unique construction process called Sylentlyte. This process incorporated an aluminum sub-structure in the body entirely eliminating the use of wood. Even the inside door panels, which are most often wood in a Duesenberg, are made from aluminum. The automobile sports long wheelbase construction with the use of short wheelbase running boards giving the front fender line more expanse length.

The original owner of this vehicle was newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. He had the car built for his mistress, silver screen star Marion Davies. Hearst, whose reach extended to publishing, politics, Hollywood, the art world and everyday American life, was an influential figure in the early 20th century. In 1887, Hearst became proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner, which launched his storied publishing career. Hearst is credited with being the first to use bold headlines and illustrations to grab the public’s attention. Historians also credit this tactic as the source that fueled the public’s outrage that lead to the Spanish-American War of 1898. Hearst would go on to acquire publications, several or most of which are still in print today including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and Town and Country magazines. Hearst started one of the first print-media companies to enter radio broadcasting and was an early pioneer of television. Hearst was a major producer of movie newsreels, and is widely credited with creating the comic strip syndication business.

Davies was a Hollywood movie star of the early twentieth century and appeared in many silent movies and talking features from 1917 through the 1930s. She had a 30-year relationship with Hearst. The couple took vacations together and toured across Europe, Africa and America in J-254. This Duesenberg is still capable of long tours, having completed an 800 mile tour up and down the coast of California in 2008.

Seven additional automobiles will be offered by individuals at the Extravaganza: a 1922 Wintch Model 40; 1931 Willys-Knight Model 66D Sedan; 1936 Lincoln K Brunn Town Brougham; 1960 Triumph TR3A; 1957 Cadillac Coupe DeVille; 1958 AMC Rambler Station Wagon and matching Teardrop Trailer; and 1978 Cadillac Seville. with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the not-for-profit Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum.

The event will be held at the museum which is located in the original 1930s national headquarters of the legendary Auburn Automobile Company and is a National Historic Landmark.

The cars featured for sale are not from the museum’s collection.

Celebrities participating in the Extravaganza, to date, include adventure and world renown author Clive Cussler; actor and member of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Board of Trustees Edward Hermann and Richie Clyne, of the Imperial Palace and founder of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The live auction will feature original automotive art created specifically for this event by well-known and respected automotive artists; custom made jewelry by Bradley Gough Diamsons; a dining experience at Eddie Merlot’s; and items offered by celebrity friends of the Museum. Comedian and talk show host Jay Leno has offered someone in attendance a tour of his private and personal garage in sunny Southern California.

Another once-in-a-lifetime opportunity offered the night of the Extravaganza has been generously donated by author Clive Cussler. You can walk the pages of his novels when he makes you a character in one of his upcoming books.

The Extravaganza’s theme this year is “In High Gear” and will feature a blueprints and gears theme. Jackets are required for the gents. 

Last year’s benefit was an outstanding success, hosting an enthusiastic crowd and providing over $60,000 for the museum’s educational programs.

Other Extravaganza activities include a live auction, a silent auction, gourmet dinner, live music, drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and after-hours museum touring.

A limited number of tickets are available at $125 per person. Call Jan Schippers at (260) 925-1444 to reserve your tickets. Seating is limited.

Sponsors-to-date include: Kruse International, Inc., Worldwide Group – Auctioneers, Amelia Island Concours, and Sandra & Gene Davenport.

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