Your article on the Duesenberg J owned by Mr. Phillips is a beautifully done piece! It makes up for the insulting reference to the car in the “Vintage Motor Car” book which said, in effect, didn’t sell well, doesn’t look like much, therefore can’t be much of a car. A road test from a picture!
Readers seern to enjoy picking flaws in your stories, to judge from the “Letters” pages and you will undoubtedly hear from Duesenberg enthusiasts in America such as I. I found the following items: The use of two batteries is unnecessary if the proper battery is fitted in the right side running board valance. The left-side compartment housed jack, hub wrench, starting handle and, at $100 extra, a very complete tool roll made especially for the car by Fairmount Tool Co., Cleveland, Ohio. One of the special tools is very cute – a sort of “cookie cutter” shape for tightening the cam cover and chain cover hand nuts. This is still available, copied from the original.
The 19-in, wheels originally carried 7.50 x 19 tyres and the car performs surprisingly better with this size. Unfortunately they have been unavailable for a long time and most Duesenberg enthusiasts here have been running on Dunlop 7.00 x 19 as the only make available.
I am sure Mr. Phillips knows, but it may be of interest to readers that the automatic one-shot chassis lubrication system operated every 70 miles has an alternative setting which will operate the mechanism every two or three miles if the car has been laid up for a long period and a more thorough lubrication job is desired, temporarily.
Although the instrument panel was brass, engine turned, the final finish was usually nickel plate which was then oxidized to either a black or brown colour; the plating was very thin and deteriorated over a period of years.
Mr. Phillips need not feel at all embarrassed by his addition of flashing indicators or in fact any changes which he may have made on the car. One of the happy circumstances about the restoration of a Duesenberg is that in the day of its manufacture the customer was the final arbiter of what should be on and in the car. Not so today, needless to say! After paying for the chassis and commissioning a body for it, the owner could (and did) have any facility installed which took his fancy. This might (and did) include running water – solid gold hardware – special trim of all kinds, etc. As Mr. Elbert says in his book on the J, “The motorist was respected for carrying out an obligation to himself – to equip himself with a car for his special requirements.”
Mr. Phillips’ car should have the name Duesenberg on a little eagle at the point of the radiator shell. Some name-plate collector has undoubtedly at some time time removed this. I believe copies are available but an original eagle is all but unobtainable at any reasonable price.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Waynesville, Ohio. – Wm. H. Coverdale, Jr.