Tag Archives: Fred

The Biggest, Fastest, and most Expensive – Duesenberg J Derham Tourster

When E.L. Cord bought the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc from the Dusenberg brothers in 1926, he appears to have quickly dispensed with the services of Augie and asked Fred Dusenberg to design a vehicle that was to be the biggest, fastest and most expensive car ever made.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Mr Cord rejected several of Fred’s prototypes before agreeing that the Model J powered by a 265hp 6876 cc/419 cui straight 8 motor mounted on a 153 inch chassis was just the thing to challenge the European brands Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce for market share in the premium automotive sector.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Launched in late 1928 at the New York Car Show, the chassis, premium vehicles at the time were sold as powered chassis with bespoke bodies ordered from independent coach builders, was originally priced at US $8,500 a price that might easily be doubled and in some cases nearly tripled once fitted with a bespoke body.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

The advanced double overhead cam 4 valves per cylinder motor, designed by Fred Duesenberg but built by E.L.Cords Lycoming company, could power the J from 10 mph to 90 mph in second gear and in supercharged SJ form is reputed to have been capable of 140 mph though roads where such a speed could be attained were far and few between.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Only 8 of the 481 J models produced were originally supplied with the Derham Tourster bodywork seen on this example which resides in the Haynes International Motor Museum.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Despite the success of an advertising campaign that featured an elegantly dressed man or equally elegantly dressed lady under the strap line ‘He/She drives a Duesenberg’ and a who’s who of Royalty and Hollywood stars that counted themselves as customers of the ‘Finest Car In The World’ the target production of 500 J models was never reached thanks to The Great Depression.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Most of the chassis were built between 1929 and 1930 but the model was still being sold in 1937 by which time it had become outdated in it’s operation. This particular vehicle came to the Haynes International Motor Museum via the personal collection of former proprietor of the Los Angeles Times Otis Chandler.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Finest Car In The World’ edition of ‘Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Don’t forget …

Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz

Automobiliart, Paul Chenard

December 26th – January 2nd

Win a set of Paul Chenard Greetings Cards

Sports-GT cars set, Paul Chenard

Set 1 Sports & GT Cars

Phil Hill, Sharknose Ferrari Set, Paul Chenard

Set 2 Phil Hill World Drivers Championship 50th Anniversary Edition

1934 GP Season Card set, Paul Chenard

Set 3 1934 Season

1950s Grand Prix Engines

Set 4 Grand Prix Engines of the 1950’s


Mike Hawtorns racecars Card set, Paul Chenard

Set 5 Mike Hawthorn’s Race Cars

The Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz will comprise 8 categories.

Overall winner chooses one set of Paul Chenard Greetings Cards from the five sets shown above.

The cards measure 15.24cm x 11.43cm, come in packs of 12 with 3 copies of 4 designs in each set, plus A6 envelopes.

Which set will you choose ?

The free to enter Automobiliart GALPOT Seasonal Quiz will run from December 26th – January 2nd Entries close January 8th 2012, Winner announced January 16th 2012.

Full details on December 26th at GALPOT.


Fearless Freddy and the Cummins Diesel Special

Staying with the 1952 Indy 500 which I started to look at yesterday today we are looking at the Cummins Diesel Special, thanks to a photograph taken by Ed Arnaudin in 1982.

Cummins Special, Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The history of Cummins the diesel engine manufacturer dates back to 1919 Clessie Cummins set out to exploit the hitherto unrealised commercial potential of Rudolf Diesels high compression thermal engine which takes it’s name from it’s inventor the diesel engine.

Based in Colombus Indiana Cummins a self taught engineer was also quick to spot opportunities to promote his products through events like the Indy 500 and in 1931 entered a car built around a Duesenberg road car chassis fitted with an 85 hp Cummins deisel marine engine which started last but thanks to it’s fuel economy came home 13th and in the process became the first car ever to complete the Indy 500 without making a pitstop.

This car was subsequently prepared for use on the road and used by Cummins and his marketing manager WG Irwin on a promotional tour of Europe.

In 1934 Cummins returned with a two car entry the #5 powered by a two stroke diesel which went the distance coming in 12th and the #6 by a 4 stroke diesel which retired with transmission failure.

In 1950 Cummins returned to the Brickyard with the #61 Cummins Deisel ‘Green Hornet’ a 340 hp supercharged diesel sitting in a Kurtis Kraft chassis driven by Jimmy Jackson who started 32nd and retired after 50 laps of the rain shortened race. The Green Hornet would take the diesel land speed record at Bonneville after it was timed at 165 mph on the famous salt flats.

For 1952 Cummins held nothing back from their Indy 500 programme working again with Kurtis Kraft the chassis now accommodated a 380 hp 6.6 litre / 401 cui six cylinder turbocharged engine, mandated at twice the size of the gasoline powered vehicles in the race.

The motor featured an aluminium block and head with a magnesium crank case, this unit was lain 5 degrees off flat which gave the #28 three advantages, reduced centre of gravity, reduce the frontal area and thanks to the offset engine some of it’s weight could be distributed so that the car was heavier on the left (inside) wheels.

Fearless Fred Agabashian was hired to drive the Cummins Diesel Special on the recommendation of Kurtis. After the car was tested for the first time the team, comprising almost entirely regular Cummins employees who worked as engineers and mechanics apart from the driver, knew they had a veritable ‘Rocketship’ on their hands.

Fred sandbagged for much of the month of May until Pole day by lifting off on the back straight one lap cruising through a turn on another never completing a whole lap under full power so as not to draw attention to the ‘Rocketship’ capability of the car and risk having the rules changed.

Come 5:45 pm on pole day Fred and the heavy, 3,100 lb, Cummins Diesel Special fitted with a fresh engine made their mark on the world of motor sport by setting an individual lap record of 139 mph and a record 4 lap average of 138 mph.

Qualifying over 1 mph faster than the next nearest competitor in one of the most famous races in the world with a vehicle powered by what was in essence a truck engine subsequently repaid Cummins investment many times over in the volume of publicity this feat generated.

Having shredded their tyres in qualifying the Cummins team needed a different strategy in the race and planned to run a half a tank of diesel and make one pit stop for fuel and tyres. The heavy Cummins Diesel Special was in good company with Ascari and his heavy Ferrari, both cars bogged down at the start but climbed through the field.

Agabashain in the Cummins was running as high as fifth when the car probably claimed a world first, retirement due to…. turbo failure after 71 laps, the air intake for the turbocharger, placed low in the nose, had sucked up debris into the turbine housing damaging the blades.

Cummins however were not in the least disappointed they remain the only manufacturer of truck engines to have recorded an Indy 500 pole. An achievement possibly only eclipsed recently by the 4 victories Audi Diesels in the Le Mans 24 hours since 2006, interrupted by a Peugeot Diesel victory in 2009.

A small post script allegedly in 1953 a spark plug manufacturer was advertising its wares, in the 1953 Indy 500 programe, with a picture of the 1952 Cummins Diesel Special, the only car in the 1952 field without need of them.

My thanks to Steve Arnaudin for scanning and forwarding his Dad’s photograph.

Hope you have enjoyed today’s “Fearless Freddy” edition of ‘Gettin’ a lil, psycho on tyres’ and that you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !