Leake Auction Company will offer the 1978 Glenn Pray Duesenberg Dual Cowl Sport Phaeton — the last Duesenberg to receive a sequential serial number from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg factory — during Leake’s Platinum Series auction in Dallas Market Hall on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014.
When the Duesenberg Model J was released in 1928, the United States was experiencing a strong economy. More than 480 Model J “Duseys” were produced by the legendary factory in Indianapolis, Indiana. Each and every Model J Duesenberg was hand built with the engine, transmission and chassis all constructed with the latest engineering advancements. A customer would order the chassis and then set about ordering a custom body. Unfortunately, the stock market crash in 1929 cut into the fortunes of many. The sales of luxury items, especially over-the-top cars, would dramatically decline.
Values of original Model J’s climbed into the 1970s, but Glenn Pray, president of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, already recognized the styling genius from the classic era that came from the Auburn, Cord and Duesenberg heritage. In the mid-1960s, Pray pioneered the idea of reviving a true classic with his handsome and successful creation, the Cord 8/10 and then later, his Auburn 866 Speedster. He then turned his sights on the Duesenberg.
In the late 1970s, Pray acquired a new Duesenberg chassis with the vision of creating his own version of this mighty automobile. He pulled molds off an original Duesenberg Model J Derham Tourster and added a LaGrand-style sweep panel to the Tourster body to create his idea of a modern day recreation in the Le Grande style. One of the many innovations of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg empire had been the superbly engineered V-12 engine for the Auburn line. After the Auburn brand was discontinued, this basic engine design was kept alive and used for decades in fire engines produced by the American-LaFrance company. A V-12 was acquired from one of these fire rigs for Pray’s Duesenberg project. He replaced and added all original 1930s V-12 accessories from his large Auburn Cord Duesenberg parts inventory to recreate the classic Auburn V-12 engine. Coupled with a period-correct three-speed manual transmission, the power combination seemed to work out quite well. Completing the picture was a set of chrome-plated Buffalo wire wheels, plus the famous Duesenberg grille, headlights and fenders created by designer Gordon Buehrig, Pray’s longtime friend and colleague.
Upon completion, the Pray-Duesenberg with V-12 power, was honored with the next consecutive serial number following the final Duesenberg to be built in Indianapolis. Pray’s car was built by hand in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Factory in Broken Arrow, OK. This car was toured rather extensively and has participated in a number of vintage car events including the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival in Auburn, Ind., on several occasions. Finished in gleaming red with deep burgundy sweep-panels, this sport phaeton paints a picture of grandeur not seen since the golden age of classic cars.
This Duesenberg and many other cars spanning decades of automotive history will be in Dallas Market Hall on Nov. 21-23 during Leake Auction Company’s sale. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and military personnel with an ID and $7 for children under 12. Doors open at 9am daily. The auction will start at noon on Friday, 10am on Saturday and 11am on Sunday. For a complete list of vehicles in this auction, visit www.leakecar.com.
Read about found cars such as Duesenberg in Lost and Found Part 2