Curbside Classic: 1935 Duesenberg La Grande–Totally Unexpected

What do you do when you see a Duesenberg parked at a local auto repair shop?  You whip out your phone and take pictures for Curbside Classic!

Seeing this car is like seeing a live elephant for the first time.  You know what they look like, but being in the presence of one is a whole different experience.

I remember Sam Wainwright’s car from the “seen it too many times already” movie It’s a Wonderful Life.  But Sam apparently had a ’31 J Formal Town Car by Rollston.

While I was there, one of the mechanics from the shop was attempting to start the car to move it into the garage.  The starter turned so slowly:  “Rrrrrr . . . Rrrrrr! . . . rrr.” –as if the battery were low.  I wasn’t sure the engine would fire, but it did:  “Vrooooooooooooom!”  The exhaust note is a little louder than I’d thought it would be–not annoying, just with more gusto than expected.

How much is this car worth?  $1 million?  Two?  I don’t know.  If you’re looking for patina, you won’t find it here–the car is sparkling, spotless, showroom new.  And why not?  With resale value this high, it’s worth the expensive time and labor to restore to perfection!

Let’s look at some details:

A real trunk!  This is why we call the storage area in the back of cars “trunks”.  Note the alien head, art deco chrome exhaust tip!

Taillights say   S T O P   in stenciled letters.

Mirror-like octagonal hubs say DUESENBERG in the center.

Front compartment.

It’s kind of hard to imagine that cars like this were once “daily drivers” for real people–driven on, say, the cobblestone streets of Manhattan–dodging horses and skittering over streetcar tracks . . .

. . . and parked in a stable behind one of these Fifth Avenue mansions.

Likely it would be chauffeur driven . . .


. . . and you would use it to drive to your other mansion in the Hudson Valley, somewhere near Poughkeepsie.

Duesenberg being weighed before scrapping.


After World War II, you couldn’t give these things away!  Everyone wanted new, “streamlined”, gorpy cars with power steering and automatic transmission!  These were just considered gas guzzling, obsolete machinery.


However, the years (and a lot of restoration $$$’s) have been kind to this one.  So that’s what I found!  You never know what the new day will bring!  Maybe posting this will class up da joint!

See also:  CC Nostalgia:  Curbside Classics–1972 Edition

Thanx to Nostalgia Motors, Boonton NJ for graciously allowing me to photograph (and share with you) this true American classic!