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Duesenbergs in Argentina
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Robbie Marenzi
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Joined: 15 Oct 2010
Posts: 27
Location: Buenos Aires - Argentina

PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:38 pm    Post subject: Duesenbergs in Argentina Reply with quote

I'm new to the forum, but have been an ACD Club Member since 1993, I have a 1933 Auburn 8-105 Salon Sedan, patiently waiting to be restored.
Antique car enthusiasts have always wondered if any Duesenberg remains in Argentina, according to some sources as many as 8 Model J’s reached these shores, surely Randy or Chris know exactly how many, but none is known to exist here today, most have been re-exported to USA. I have recently come across these two pictures of a highly modified Duesenberg, they were given to me by the son of the mechanic that did the work on the car, according to him the car was made with Duesenberg parts imported for this project, only the engine????, but in the picture the original steering wheel is easily noticeable same as the dashboard, what’s more this happened in 1941, years after Duesenberg had closed down, and during WWII, which makes me think this may have been a rebody or highly improbable a chassis that had come years before to be bodied here. I’m very puzzled by the wheels that look very much 1938 Chevrolet. Can a 16” wheel fit on a Duesenberg brake drum? I can imagine somebody being stupid enough to get rid of the wire wheels, but only a complete idiot would discard the Duesenberg brakes. Changing tyre size is not strange, 16” tyres were probably the only size easily available in Buenos Aires in 1941.
According to the owner of the photos, between 1944 and 1946 the then President of Argentina, Military Dictator Gen. Farrell (Gen. Peron was his Vice President and successor) borrowed the car for a July 9th Independence Day Parade, but finally chose to ride in a closed car.
And if you’re all wondering, no, unfortunately, there isn’t the slightest chance of tracing the car, or knowing what became of it, we don’t even know the owner’s name.
Work doesn’t look too good, doesn’t even seem to have a hood, or is it a top?
Maybe Darrin Packard inspired, grill looks late 30’s LaSalle or Cadillac?
On first picture, dedication to the mechanic reads: “For Alfredo Rosende my companion in the race to reconstruct this car. Buenos Aires 31/7/41”-- signature is illegible—



And as often said “Good thing come in pairs”, last weekend as I was going around the auto jumble section of Autoclasica 2010, the most important collector car show in Latin America, held annually in Buenos Aires, at a friend’s stand I came across this original Duesenberg radiator shell. The vendor didn’t know what it was, when I told him he wouldn’t believe me until he saw pictures of a Duesenberg. Some time ago, the oldest junk yard still in existence in Buenos Aires, started in the thirties and still run by the Kvitko family, had to get rid of all car parts they could not prove the origin of, today you must have the title of the car every part came from, this is a police requirement because of the large amount of stolen cars that are parted, so this friend bought all the old parts and amongst them came the Duesenberg grill, it had been hanging on the wall for 50 or 60 years. That’s all there was no more Duesenberg parts, obviously the copper radiator was sold as scrap metal. Incidentally, the Kvitko junk yard is where Ben Moser found the famous Jade Silver Ghost, many years ago.
And the answer to this is yes, the radiator shell is on sale, I will be posting it, on behalf of the owner, on eBay soon. It’s in very good condition, quite frankly looks a thought it was never in a car, there is only a small dime size dent a the front and two small cracks where the hood hinge goes, only surface rust, will need re chroming.












Kind of long message, but I believe it should be rather interesting for many users.

Regards
Robbie Marenzi
ACD Club Member
Buenos Aires Argentina

PS: How do you get ACD Club Member under your name and how do I access the Members only section?
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alsancle
ACD Club Member


Joined: 17 May 2006
Posts: 509
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. Cool photos. It will be interesting to hear Randy or Chris's comments.
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Chris Summers
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Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 1592
Location: Barboursville, WV, and Chatham, ON

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Robbie,

Thanks so much for posting those, very interesting and new, at least to me. Interesting car. Unfortunately I can't add much to its history.

I know of two Model Js that definitely were in Argentina, LeBaron Sweep Panel Phaeton J-292 / 2158 and Murphy Convertible Coupe J-404 / 2426. The car pictured is not J-292 / 2158. J-404 / 2426 was reported by Ray Wolff as complete in Argentina in the early 1950s.

Antonio and Gustavo Chopitea were wealthy brothers with homes all over Europe (and in NYC); my notes indicate a residence in Argentina. They had several Duesenbergs between themselves and not all of those cars have been traced.

For anyone interested, the Summer 1996 (No. 30) issue of the Society of Automotive Historians's "Automotive History Review" includes as good a history of European Duesenbergs, including breakdowns of cars by coachbuilder and country and numerous hard-to-find photographs, as has ever been published. Much of it was written by my late predecessor Fred Roe.
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Robbie Marenzi
ACD Club Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2010
Posts: 27
Location: Buenos Aires - Argentina

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Chris

The Chopitea brothers were Peruvian but like most wealthy South Americans, in those days, had residences in various countries.
I don’t know who’s J-404 / 2426 was, but SJ-292 / 2158 belonged to Martin de Alzaga Unzue, Argentine millionaire, playboy and racing driver, who lived in Buenos Aires, Paris and NYC. He simultaneously owned, 2 Chrysler, 1 Pierce Arrow and 1 Auburn Cord Duesenberg, dealership in Buenos Aires, in an article published in a local magazine, shortly before his death he remembers having brought various Duesenberg, that according to him, were all sold within hours of been placed in the showroom. He was very wealthy, but managed to squander the family fortune, and ended his days locating collector cars, many that had belonged to him or he had sold new, to export manly to USA.

Here's a photo of him in, the car, when new.

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Chris Summers
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Joined: 05 Feb 2006
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Location: Barboursville, WV, and Chatham, ON

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Robbie,

Thanks so much. I knew about Unzue and his ownership of the car but that is a new picture. Anything new (to me, or otherwise) is always welcomed.

J-404 / 2426 was Antonio Chopitea's. Many of their cars are pictured in the SAH article.
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Bob Roller
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Joined: 18 Jun 2010
Posts: 280
Location: Huntington, WV

PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 7:57 am    Post subject: Argentenian Duesenbergs Reply with quote

I think that underneath that sheet metal there lurks a "J"chassis.The wheel base looks to be about twelve feet and those look like wheel covers over wire wheels to me..
There is also a chance that the radiator shell shown may have been on that chassis originally. What the body and fenders are,I have no idea but it is in the idiom of the early 1940's,maybe a Buick convertible sedan. Is it possible that this car may be one of the untraced ones??
Anyhow,what ever it is makes for some very interesting speculation and proves that the whole story has yet to be told concerning these very unusual cars.

Bob Roller
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alsancle
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Joined: 17 May 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The two rods extending from the firewall to the radiator over the engine look like Model J, no? The would imply a Model J radiator.
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Bob Roller
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:39 am    Post subject: Argentenian Duesenberg Reply with quote

You are probably right about the radiator support rods.
I am thinking that is a "J" that has been "reclothed" to look like some sort of GM car and I still think "Buick".
Chris tells me that one "J"was rebodied to look like an Olds and that it was at one time a Beverly. I think it is in Elberts book. I once saw a cartoon depicting some bonehead rebodying a "J" to make it look like a VW Beetle so who knows what may have been done in other countries with these cars.
The more I look at the car in these photos,the better I like it.

Bob Roller
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Chris Summers
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Joined: 05 Feb 2006
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Location: Barboursville, WV, and Chatham, ON

PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The rebodied former Beverly is J-462 / 2522, also known as the Big Cow for the steer horns mounted on the grille. Its restyle, oddly, is very similar - a GM-by-way-of-Howard Darrin-style body with an open rear seat. It isn't the same car in the photos, however. The rebodying of J-462 / 2522 was done in the late 1940s or early 1950s in California.

This car has been referred to by some as the Tom Mix Car. It's worth repeating that he not only never owned the car, he likely never saw it, as he'd been dead for a decade when this body was built. The only Duesenberg Mix is connected with was a Model A roadster that is not known to survive.

Photos of the car below were supplied by the O'Quinn Collection which owned the car as of a year ago. I don't know if it's been sold yet.




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janst
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isn´t this J292/2158?

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West Peterson
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Joined: 14 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Summers wrote:
This car has been referred to by some as the Tom Mix Car. It's worth repeating that he not only never owned the car, he likely never saw it, as he'd been dead for a decade when this body was built.

Based on the second part of the second sentence, I'd say it's slightly more than "likely" that he never saw it.
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Chris Summers
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snarky irony, West...snarky irony.

And yes, that is J-292, although it now has chassis 2606 and the body is partially a replica. The original body was badly butchered and the original frame shortened while the car was still in Argentina.
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West Peterson
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris Summers wrote:
Snarky irony, West...snarky irony.

And yes, that is J-292, although it now has chassis 2606 and the body is partially a replica. The original body was badly butchered and the original frame shortened while the car was still in Argentina.

That sounds a lot like the history of the mostly reproduced body currently on J-275, also a LeBaron sweep-panel phaeton (where is that car today, by the way?).
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Chris Summers
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's on public display, although for most of us it would be a bit of a trek to see it. It is in the Toyota Museum in Japan, misidentified as a Murphy body.
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alsancle
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

292 wasn't my Uncle Ted's car was it?
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