This car was built for the 1931 Indianapolis 500 by chassis builder/fabricator Herman Rigling. Mr. Rigling's partner in design and construction was the famous mechanic, Cotton Henning. The Rigling-Henning Duesenberg used a special engine that was designed and built by Fred Duesenberg, exclusively for racing. The engine is based on the Duesenberg Model A block.
In the 1931 Indy 500, the vehicle was driven by babe Strapp. Mr. Strapp qualified sixth, averaging 110.120 MPH for four laps. He was running in third place when an oil leak and clutch problem forced an early retirement from the event. The car had completed just nine laps. It finished in 35th and was awarded $275 in prize money.
In the 1932 event, the vehicle was named the 'Duesenberg Special' and was piloted by L.L. Corum. That year, the car did not qualify for the race.
In the 1933 Indy 500, the car was named 'The Jack O. Car Special' and was driven by William Prentiss. Mr. Prentiss qualified at 107.8 MPH and finished thirteenth. The vehicle completed all 200 laps, at an average speed of 95.6 Mph and was ahead of the other five Duesenbergs in the race.
This original chassis/body survived the years in outstanding condition regarding the group of parts and the lack of modifications to those parts. This fact is unusual for any racing car, especially pre-war racecars. The only other known Model Y Duesenberg is a road car, not a racecar.
Produced by the Duesenberg Company, the Model Y was a transitional model produced between the Model X and the Model J. Though only one vehicle was ever produced the Model Y was without a doubt one of the most unique and unusual Duesenbergs in the earth.
Several engines variations were constructed, but only one model was every fully completed. The model Y was a prototype and the car was destroyed by Augie Duesenberg after testing was completed on the prototype. The body was kept, though he completely destroyed the engine and the chassis which he later mounted on a Duesenberg Model A chassis and added non-Duesenberg wheels.
It is believed that the Model Y prototype was the original Duesenberg to employ both design and styling characteristics that were eventually utilized in the Model J design. Today the Model Y is on display at the Auburn-Cord-Museum in Auburn, Indiana.By Jessica Donaldson