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Fred & Augie Duesenberg

The carbuilders from Lemgo-KIRCHHEIDE  | Germany

The property No. 34, today Salzufler Str. 48, since 1995 private home and office of HELIPAD.consulting, is the the house where the brothers FRITZ & AUGUST DÜSENBERG lived, until emigration to America in the year 1885. Here they became quite famous as designers of the legendary DUESENBERG CARS.

Düsenberg Farm
in Lemgo-KIRCHHEIDE  | Germany

GE-Placemark:  52° 05' 15.73'' N  |  08° 52' 25.39'' E

The farm house (Kolon No. 34) was built in the year 1760.
In 1848 the house was made longer and got a stable, which is written down in the inscription of the arc of gate.

Entrance door with arc of gate and inscription
Arc of gate inscription
Plaintext  |  Translation

Brickmaker Johan Heinrich Düsenberg, who is mentioned in the inscription, emigrated to America in 1866.  His wife Katrine Henigete Düsenberg, maiden name Naken, followed him 2 years later.  From then Konrad Heinrich Ludwig Düsenberg, Johan Heinrich Düsenberg´s brother, lived in the house No. 34 with his family.  When settler Konrad Heinrich Ludwig Düsenberg died, his widow Luise Conradine decided to make her fortune in Amerika, together with her 6 children: Conrad 22, Wilhelmine 19, Caroline 14, Amalie 10, Friedrich 7, August 4.  They arrived at New York harbor in 1885 and traveled to Rockford/Iowa.  Friedrich and August changed their names to Fred und Augie Duesenberg.  Here they went to school and afterwards they worked as technicians for agricultural machines and as manufacturers of windmills.  At the age of 17 Fred Duesenberg founded a bike shop in Rockford. His brother Augie ran a similar shop in Garner/Iowa.  1902 Fred started a career as development engineer and as test driver at the RAMBLER car factory.  In 1910 Fred Düsenberg presented his first racing car. 1913 the DUESENBERG MOTOR COMPANY was founded.  The Duesenberg brothers built racing cars and developed aircraft engines for WW I operations. In the same year Fred married Isle Denny from Runnels/Iowa . They had a son.  1920 a world record at high speed (251km/h) was gained by Jimmy Murphy driving a Duesy.  4 victories at INDY 500.  In 1921 the first american victory at the LE MANS GRAND PRIX in France with a Duesenberg racer.  Filmstars like Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, James Cagney, Elisabeth Arden and the Marx Brothers owned PS-bursting and luxurious Duesenberg cars.  In 1926 E L Cord took over the DUESENBERG MOTOR COMPANY, a consequence resulting from changes in the automobile industry.  Then the Duesenberg Brothers built THE WORLD´S FINEST MOTOR CARS.

26 July, 1932 Fred Duesenberg died in a car crash. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetary, Indianapolis  In 1955 his brother Augie died at the age of 76. His wife Gertrude, maiden name Pike, died in 1974.

Today only oldtimer fans know the make DUESNBERG. But the name should be named equal footing with PORSCHE, BENZ, DAIMLER and FORD.

In Germany only few people know that Duesenberg´s grandsons built a part of the 1,400 miles long Alaska Highway through the Canadian wilderness during WW II. H Milton Duesenberg, a Duesenberg great grandson wrote a book about this technical masterpiece.

Great event in Kirchheide - Back to the roots

Mon 3 September, 2007 there was a visit from Netherland by a Duesenberg J · Murphy Convertible Coupe · Model 1929.

For many of the Kirchheide people it was the first time, seeing this wonderful car in original. The publishers of the special journals OLDTIMER-Markt and OLDTIMER-Praxis, on occasion of a report about the Duesenberg Brothers, have interested a Duesy owner from Holland, to go to Kirchheide.  After participation in the EUROPEAN CONCOURS D´ELEGANCE in Schwetzingen/Germany, Jan & Terry Meijers had gone a roundabout way to Kirchheide , to present their wonderful car infront of the Duesenberg-House.

Full story in the journal     Number 1/2008

1981 Best of Show - Pebble Beach - USA
2002 People's Choice - Louis Vuitton Classic Paris - France
2006 Best of Show - Essen Motor Show - Germany
2007 Best of Show - Antwerpen Classic Show - Belgium

Duesenberg J Murphy Convertible Coupe
with non-disappearing top and dixi-sit · Model 1929

Complete Original
8 cylinder · 6700ccm volume · 265 SAE PS · 2.5t weight

Price at that time: $ 14,500 - the price of two dozen Fords. First owner was multi millionaire John R McKinney from NYC. McKinney & Weicher are established at the NY Stock Exchange and partner of John D Rockefeller Sr.

Chassis and engines were designed by Fred Duesenberg. Bodywork and interior of the cars would be custom-made by experienced coachbuilders to the owner's specifications. The Duesenberg bodyworks came from famous coachbuilders in America and Europe. Coachbuilder Walter M Murphy from Pasadena/CA only made 50 bodyworks for Duesenberg and only 5 with a non-disappearing top and a dixi-sit. This Duesy Model J is one of those five ones.

More information and photos:   NL-CLASSICS

Dixi-Sit of the DUESY
Ironically called "Mother-In-Law-Sit"
The brilliant carbuilders

Fred Duesenberg
1876 - 1932

Augie Duesenberg
1879 - 1955
Sources / Links

Lippische Blätter für Heimatkunde 05 / 1999
Homepage Automotive History / American Automobiles
Emigration from LIPPE to the USA - Homepage Genealogy WG - Natural Scientific and Historical Society for the Lippe Country
Homepage Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum
Homepage NL-Classics 
Homepage LEMGO town
Expeditionary Force / A Roadbuilders Story von H Milton Duesenberg

Thanks to my school friend  REINHOLD STENVERS †  for translation.