1927 Duesenberg Model Y

1927 Duesenberg Model Y 1927 Duesenberg Model Y 1927 Duesenberg Model Y Phaeton
Coachwork: McFarlan
Chassis #: 912
Engine # 1598
Sold for $340,000 at 2016 RM Sotheby's : Hershey.
Duesenberg Motors was acquired by E.L. Cord of Auburn Automobile Company in Auburn, Indiana, in 1926. Mr. Cord's intention for his newly acquired car company was to transform it producing the world's greatest automobile. Working with Fred Duesenberg, one of the two founding brothers of the company, Mr. Cord put together the idea for a prototype. It was called the Model Y, and it used a 134-inch wheelbase chassis of the Model A. Its prototype engine was based upon the Model A's SOHC unit but modified to displace 412 cubic-inches. It also was given four valves per cylinder, which helped in producing 200 horsepower. Over the months that followed, the basic design would continue to evolve and would eventually form the basis for the Model J's Lycoming-built, 420 cubic-inch DOHC mill.

Two examples of the Duesenberg Model Y are known to have been produced. One was given a sedan body, and the other a Phaeton body built by McFarlan of Connersville, Indiana, which had become part of E.L. Cord's empire in 1928. Both the sedan and the phaeton were styled by Alan Leamy. Aside from the Ryanlites, this styling would be used virtually verbatim on the eventual Model J.

This vehicle is a 1927 Duesenberg Model Y Phaeton and is believed to be the only one created, and fitted with several engine configurations. It was an experimental vehicle that was meant to be a transitional model between the X and the J. Because it was a prototype, Augie Duesenberg was given the task of destroying the engine and chassis, but kept the body. The body was later mounted on a Duesenberg Model A chassis and gave it some non-Duesenberg wheels. The body is believed to have been built as an in-house prototype.

The Model Y gave styling cues to Duesenbergs future models, especially from the cowl forward which is similar to the Model Js. The sheet metal is nearly identical to what was used in production a year later.

Currently, the Model Y is powered by a straight-eight engine displacing 260 cubic-inches and offering 88 horsepower. The car has a wheelbase that measures 136 inches.

It is believed that the Model Y Sedan was delivered to Frank Morgan. Sadly, it did not survive the Classic Era.

The Phaeton was sold by Duesenberg Motors in 1932 to Fred Duesenberg's brother, August, on the condition that he destroy the prototype chassis. After moving the engine into a racing car, he did as instructed and destroyed the chassis. He 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.

After Mr. Baylor passed away, the Model A/Y was bequested first to his chauffeur, then to his sister, Lela Nichols, in 1941. Mrs. Nichols drove the car infrequently until 1951, when she sold it to James T. Leeson of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Mr. Leeson proceeded to overhaul the car both mechanically and cosmetically, including rebuilding the engine, transmission, and brakes, and restoring the paint, chrome, upholstery, and top fabric. It is believed he drove the car about 6,000 miles until 1957, when it was sold to the father of its current owner.

The history of this car has been well-researched over the years. Its name is often referenced as the Model Y, Model A/Y, and the Model J prototype. Prior to the 1970s, it was thought to be a Model J prototype, and referred to as being either 'J-99' or 'J-100.'

By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2016

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