Traditionally, cars participating in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club's annual reunion only get up to about 15 mph during the event parade, but these thoroughbreds were meant to go much faster, and for one of the few times in the event's 55 years, ACD cars were actually encouraged to go more than 55 mph.
Honoring the fact that this year's ACD Club Reunion featured Duesenbergs, a special Duesenberg Exhibition of Speed & Stinson Fly In was held Sept. 3 at the Kendallville Municipal Airport in Kendallville, Ind. Students and teachers lined the road to the airport in anticipation of the informal parade of Duesenbergs driving to the airport. Spectator cars and trucks bearing license plates from around the country crept bumper-to-bumper into the airport, their owners then lining a red tape along the tarmac for hours before the first Duesenberg took off. Meanwhile, Duesenberg owners itched for the chance to open up their cars on a closed road course.
By my count, around 35 Duesenbergs appeared at the airport, and most of those cars' straight-eights were put through the paces. Initially, cars drove down the runway one at a time at a leisurely pace to warm up the engines, but soon, cars were going down two at a time, one owner nudging the other to go a little faster. Soon, the announcers' descriptions of the cars couldn't keep up with the cars as they flew down the tarmac. Shenanigans began, with Richie Clyne (whose maroon Judkins-coupe bodied Duesenberg appeared at the top of this web page) climaxing the festivities by pouring bleach on the tarmac to help his car's tires spin upon launch. From there, drivers began grudge matches to see which Duesenberg was faster.
For the Classic car fan with a love of primitive speed, there probably isn't anything that could beat this year's exhibition of speed. Since next year is likely to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Cord 810, maybe we'll see front-drive Cords at the Kendallville airport. You just never know.
Yes, even the ex-Clark Gable Bohman & Schwartz-modified Rollston convertible coupe made a run or two down the track. Owner Sam Mann also brought a Duesenberg-powered racecar, which made a run or two. The car is shown at the airport before the Duesenbergs made their runs.
Buck Kamphausen expected to take this Duesenberg around the world in the 2008 races which were canceled, so he had the car fitted with tools, spare parts, sirens and even a winch. None of those parts were necessary during the race, but the car sure stirred a lot of comments.
These Duesenbergs are stored in Wisconsin not far from each other, but reunited outside the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum before departing for the Kendallville Municipal Airport. That's Dave Lindsay's Murphy Convertible Sedan (J-131) and Jim Schneck's Brunn Riviera (J-525). Each was recently featured in Old Cars Weekly.
I love the opportunity Auburn presents to see a car for the first time, and I have never spotted Bill Petit's LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton before. She's a beauty, and not too pretty to run wide open, as Petit proved on the airport tarmac after this shot was taken.
Richie Clyne of the Imperial Palace Auto Collections and his son drove this Judkins coupe 1200 miles from New Hampshire to attend the event. Once there, the kid came out in Clyne who poured bleach on the tarmac before accelerating down the runway.
You don't often get to see a "project" Duesenberg, but there are a few out there, including this Rollston-bodied town car (or "cabriolet" in Duesenberg speak). Richard Fass of Stone Barn restorations owns the car and is currently restoring it.
Author Clive Cussler brought his beautiful and original Rollston Landaulet to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Reunion, where it was shot in Eckart Park before the Parade of Classics through Auburn on Sept. 4.