Duesenberg Model A/Y Phaeton by McFarlan

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Model A/Y Phaeton by McFarlan





In 1926, Duesenberg Motors was acquired by E.L. Cord of the Auburn Automobile Company in Auburn, Indiana. A “boy capitalist” and master salesman who had turned around a struggling Auburn with spectacular styling and excellent performance at a reasonable price, Cord endeavored to do the exact opposite with Duesenberg, by using it to build the world’s greatest automobile.

Working together, Fred Duesenberg, one of the two founding brothers and the “road car” mind of the company, and Cord put together the idea for a prototype. Dubbed the Model Y, it used the 134-inch-wheelbase chassis of the Model A, with a prototype engine based upon the A’s SOHC unit but evolved to 412-cubic inch displacement and four valves per cylinder, for a reported output near 200 horsepower. This basic design would evolve even further in the coming months and would form the basis for the Model J’s Lycoming-built, 420-cubic inch DOHC mill.

Two examples of the Model Y are known to have been produced: a sedan, and then a phaeton bodied by McFarlan of Connersville, Indiana, a renowned old-line automaker that had become part of E.L. Cord’s empire in 1928. Both carried prototype styling developed by Alan Leamy, the brilliant young stylist who had helped make the Auburn a sales success again, with a massive chromed radiator shell, large Ryanlite headlamps, and flared fenders with a slightly raised rim tapered at the crown. Aside from the Ryanlites, this styling would be used virtually verbatim on the eventual Model J.

The Model Y sedan is believed to have been delivered to Frank Morgan, the actor best-remembered as the title character in the 1939 film classic, The Wizard of Oz, and appeared with him in Vogue Tire advertisements. Morgan’s sedan, alas, did not survive the Classic Era.

Meanwhile, the phaeton was sold by Duesenberg Motors in 1932 to Fred Duesenberg’s brother, August, the genius racing mechanic, on the condition that he destroy the prototype chassis. This he did, after moving the engine into a racing car, which survives today as part of a prominent Midwestern collection. August Duesenberg then installed the McFarlan body, with Leamy’s prototype Model J styling, including the full bodywork, radiator, hood, fenders, steering gear and wheel, headlamp brackets, side-mounts, and running boards, on a used Model A chassis, number 912, and sold the car in this form to an Indianapolis businessman, Hugh R. Baylor.

“Augie” is unlikely to have known or cared, but that simple move was what preserved the styling prototype of the Model J for future generations.

Sold for: 340000 USD
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