Duesy Of A Concept: 1966 Duesenberg Model D

I’ve seen it spelled as Doozy, or is it Doozie? When I see an author of a book about the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum refer to them as a Duesy, that’s what I’m sticking with. In any case, this 1966 Duesenberg Model D is quite a car. It’s priced as such at $475,000 or best offer and it’s listed on Hemmings. It’s located in Highland Park, Illinois and it sure looks like you could drive it home, but I wouldn’t have the guts to do anything like that myself. Thanks to Dominic O. for sending in this find!

This is a real Duesenberg, not some crazy Superfly creation. The seller mentions that this “Duesenberg was created under the auspices of Augie Duesenberg and designed by Virgil Exner and built by Ghia.” You aren’t seeing things, those are double white wall tires. This is the “first time in over 50 years that this car is publicly being offered for sale.” They say that “It was on display at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum for 30 years until it went to the Bortz Auto Collection where it has been for the past 15 years.” The grille on this Model D appears to be incredibly similar to the Green Hornet car: Black Beauty. Both were based on the Imperial, believe it or not.

This is it, one of one, numero uno – no more examples were built other than this one prototype. They had planned on producing a limited number of them in a factory in Indianapolis, Indiana but the program never went further than this prototype. The Duesenberg Model D was projected to cost around $20,000 which is $153,000 in 2018 dollars. That’s a lot of money but there are cars costing much more than that today. I think the Duesenberg name is more about a time in history that can’t be duplicated no matter how unique or nice of a car as there may be with that name on it. As nice and bespoke and custom as this car is there is just no duplicating the aura and mystique of the original Duesenberg. That being said, I don’t know any real car lover who won’t dream about owning this gorgeous Model D after seeing this YouTube video.

The Model D was based on the Imperial which was about as luxurious as it got for a Chrysler product in 1966. The interior of this Model D is a step or ten above that. Cashmere? Yes, please. The steering wheel padded hub badge has an eerily-similar look to recent Chrysler seal-and-wings logos. This car, of course, would have every option of the era. In 1966, owning a car with such custom and almost old-English touches and details would have been reserved for captains of industry and the old money crowd but it was a more reserved era than that of the original Duesenberg.

It was a different era. Extravagant displays of wealth weren’t real popular in the post-war era, especially after so many wars and so many struggles. The early and mid-1960s were a time of change and given that, I think this Model D strikes a nice balance. You know that it’s something special but it doesn’t shout “I HAVE MORE MONEY THAN YOU DO” like the original Duesenbergs did. Once inside, though, both the driver and passengers were coddled in the finest that the world had to offer at the time – both modern amenities and old world luxury. The back seat, while posh, isn’t in the same league as the feeling that a person would have gotten riding in the back seat of a classic Duesenberg, but it would not have disappointed.

Given this car’s 137.5-inch Imperial chassis, it isn’t surprising to see a 440 cubic-inch Chrysler V8 under the hood. And, that hood, wow! It’s padded like the underside of the trunk lid is. A 1966 Imperial 440 V8 would have had 350 hp and I’m assuming that’s what this Model D has. Of course this car has AC and I’m assuming that it works perfectly. Collectors like Mr. Joe Bortz have no interest in second best. He has owned this one-of-a-kind prototype for 15 years after more than 30 years of waiting to complete the purchase agreed upon in the early-1970s. These incredible concept cars don’t come up for sale too often.

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Comments

  1. Adam T45 Staff

    The mighty Mr Exner’s styling lived on into the 70s with the Stutz Bearcat as pictured. The grille bares a remarkable similarity.

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    Exner was keen on building a modern – well, 1960s – take on the ‘Classic Era’ of his youth (i.e. the likes of Duesenberg, Marmon, Stutz, Pierce, Cadillac, etc.), and the the car featured above and Adam’s post are examples of that.

    If I recall correctly the ’61 Imperial’s headlight arrangement was another of Exner’s ideas for a ‘classic look’, before the disastrous downsizing across the ’62 Chrysler range (and that’s a story in itself!).

    Thanks for sharing, Scotty.

  3. PatrickM

    At first, I thought I was looking at a ’69 Thunderbird

  4. On and On On and On Member

    Sorry, wheel well styling does not fit. Art deco swerves on a 60’s car? Mercy. If you understand the type that lives in Highland Park, Illinois it would give you a hint. $475k?.

    • Pa Tina

      What type lives in Highland Park?

      • OIL SLICK

        oh just some of the richest folk in the world….

      • On and On On and On Member

        Read SAM61 below.

      • Pa Tina

        10-4. Thanks for the clarification. I have never been able to picture any of these types of cars being anywhere other than Florida or Southern California.

  5. Ikey Heyman Member

    Scotty, you must realize that you are just throwing red meat to the “how the heck is this a barn find?” crowd.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ikey, this was a reader submission. Actual Barn Finds are still core to the mission but when reader submissions come in we like to show a good portion of those if we feel that they would be interesting for readers to see.

      • SAM61

        Ditto…I find unique interesting as well. The Highland Park “barn” this in is likely mahogany paneled.

      • Rube Goldberg Member

        I say change the name. While the original mission( I think) were items ( it never says Car anywhere in the title) found in barns, at one time, the ULTIMATE of finds, is highly overblown today and some throw dust on a “find” to make it seem like it was found in a barn, it has morphed into much more than that. I enjoy all submissions, found in a barn, or not. And btw, great write up.

  6. JazzGuitarist54

    I thought I was looking at a T-bird when I first saw this auto, but I think the Stutz looks like a Grand Prix…
    I like to see these types of vehicles on here, gives the reader something to rail about and start an, at times, interesting discussion.
    Besides, I let my Hemmings script expire…

  7. Cbny

    Barn finds are great, but I can appreciate the coming out of a debutante that’s been locked in a barn with a French name,( mu-zee-um). It’s about cars, and if you’re a snob, you’re a loser. I can love a silver cloud, and a gold duster in the same driveway. Appreciate how people could love Chevy, and hate gmc! People are whacked!

  8. Curt k

    Scotty i just gotta say thank you.i love reading banfinds because im always learning about a car i never knew about or reading about the other readers stories.Thank you again.

  9. Fred W.

    Wonder if a car designer at Ford was influenced by this…

    Like 1
    • JazzGuitarist54

      My first thought when I saw this car, it’s a modified T-bird. Now I know better

  10. Alan (Michigan) Member

    Half a Million Dollars?
    Sorry Scotty, that video on YouTube doesn’t make me want the car, it makes me scratch my head. If I really cared one way or the other about the car, it’d probably get me a bit angry.
    Who in the hell markets a car that has an ask well beyond the value of most people’s houses, with a CELL PHONE video?
    Even if a serious seller was expecting interested parties at Half of the ask, doesn’t it seem more appropriate to have a professional video edited up, with shots from a location where a lady walking her dog is not in the middle of the road?
    The car is unique, and parts of it might even be gorgeous in person. I personally like the design of the wheel well openings trailing edges. Some of the photos are very well done. But that video…. You have GOT to be Kidding!

    Like 1
  11. David Zornig

    I jumped that Duesenberg with my `55 Thunderbird at a Lake Forest show 10+ years ago.
    Mr. Bortz had finished a presentation about it, then walked around a bit before returning to his car.
    I was still parked nearby when I saw him putting up his hood.
    Fortunately mine had been converted to 12 volt.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      David, when I first saw your comment, I thought you meant jumped as in from one ramp to the next! :-) The image both horrified and thrilled me at the same time :-)

      Like 2
  12. tirefriar

    Alas, there is an ass for every seat…

  13. UK Paul

    Looks a bit like an 80’s Aston Lagonda

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      @uk paul. Very slightly, however, this Duesy is way too ostentatious to be classed in the same league as the Aston Martin Lagonda.

  14. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I really like gauges in a vehicle. This thing could be the King. A speedo in the back seat? Altimeter in the front? I am going to look for better dash photos today. Any one know what that tool that looks like a chrome oil filter wrench in the trunk does? Thanks, Mike.

    • Rob F

      tool to remove the center caps would be my guess

  15. minicoopermk1

    My first reaction to seeing this was “Scare your children”. Sorry, but I’ve always thought those later interpretations were badly done. At the core, they’re still big mass produced luxury barges with a ‘Pimp My Ride’ look about them.

  16. Rubin

    I work on all Joe Bortz cars that’s a radio in rear you can control the front radio from . I did the LaSalle roadster .

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      You are a lucky guy Rubin,Thanks for the radio tip.

  17. Madmatt

    I think its really cool,….but not ” $ THAT $” cool…
    Definitly looks like Ford took some inspiration,or visa/versa
    on the 67/69 T-birds.Really hope a museum gets it,preserves it,
    and shows it off ..to all of us “peasants” out here..!

  18. Gallagher Engineering

    If this was truly a ground up creation it would be worth a lot of money.
    However, it’s not. It’s a customized american car. And I remember that did not set well with the public. No body wanted to pay that much money for an america’s based car.
    And you are correct about Highland Park being a high income town. It’s about two thousand dollars a month for property taxes, however The city officials are just plain stubborn. They have been sued several times over the conduct of their police officers, and there’s no end in sight.

    • Rubin

      This is not a American car it was built by ghia.

  19. BOP Guy Member

    Thanks for the article, it’s really a unique car. But $475,000 ??!! 🤣

  20. JP

    Yeah… this is a tricked out Imperial which, while interesting, isn’t “all that.” It’s certainly no Duesenberg, regardless of what name plate it carries, or who supposedly designed it (and it wasn’t Augie Duesenberg, who died in 1955). Might as well get a Zimmer or Excalibur, which at least look a little like actual Duesenbergs… Nah, just avoid this kit-car-y crap altogether…

  21. FordGuy1972 Fordguy1972 Member

    That is one ugly car! The proportions are terrible, the wheel wells look awful, the rear of the car looks way too small, the rear window seems to have been styled just to do something with it, anything at all, the front end is “so what” and the wheels/tires look too big.

    You couldn’t pay me to even drive that car, I have a reputation to protect.

  22. scottymac

    Gallagher,
    You may have missed the part that says it was made by Ghia, not “…a customized American car.”. Just like the show car creations Ghia built for Chrysler back in the Fifties, I think this does qualify as “…a ground up creation…”. Check what those bring at auction. Maybe I misunderstood you?

    I’ve got the sales brochure for the Duesy, and the 7 Renwal Exner models from 1966, that’s as far as my wallet takes me.

  23. Chris Londish Member

    I’m travelling to your country in May to do a museum tour I would have to loved to see this in the flesh l will have to google the Bortz collection just hope it isn’t gone before I get there

  24. BTG88

    A reject from ‘Pimp My Ride’.

    If Bugatti can be brought back from the dead, so can Duesenberg – It just takes money – a lot of money.

  25. Gallagher Engineering

    You may be right about the body but as far as the public, (and myself) was concerned it was a american car with custom sheet metal.
    Moreover, although I did not want to say what the fordguy1972 said, the car struck me as just plain ugly.
    Also, I would question Ghia’s involvement in this felony, it dosent look at all like something he would have designed from the ground up. Ghia could have had some initial thoughts or input in the body design but I have my doubts.
    I have worked for a few coach builders in the past and I have always found them lacking in the honest department.
    I once saw Cadillac confiscate, and crush, 30! brand new Cadillacs because the dealer allowed a coach builder to modify them without GM’s permission. Oops….

  26. Maestro1

    It’s interesting but not at that price. And Highland Park is wealthy and dysfunctional.

  27. OrphanGuy

    That Deusenberg was pretty close to production when a key investor pulled out and the enterprise collapsed. One of the other original investors, James McDonnell, along with Ex, tried to put a new deal together but Fred Deusenberg’s son wouldn’t give up the rights to the name. A quick look at the patent records showed that while Duesenberg was reserved, Stutz was in the public domain. They went on to create the 1969 Stutz Blackhawk.

    • JP

      Which is even uglier than the Doozy, if that’s possible…

    • Ching -A-Trailer

      I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way, but its quite obvious the same man designed the white Stutz you show and the 1961 Plymouth Valiant.

  28. Tom S.

    In the entirety of its existence, there has not been a moment when that car was not ugly.

  29. WILLIAM BABYAK

    I may have a twisted imagination, but just picture this car modified to serve as the Black Beauty, rolling arsenal of Kato and the Green Hornet…

  30. Gallagher Engineering

    William,, LOL,. yea, I can envision that.

  31. Gallagher Engineering

    And what’s more, I don’t believe this person ever had the copyright to the Dusenberg name??!

  32. That Guy

    When I saw this post, I thought of the Renwal plastic model kit of a fantasy 1966 Duesenberg. That also looks like something Exner would have created; I googled it and it’s quite different than this car though.

    Other than the pimpmobile grille and maybe the front bumper, I quite like this. It blends 1960s’ sharp creases with 1930s’ flamboyance pretty successfully to my eye. It’s much less gaudy than the Stutz. I can understand how Mr. Bortz felt it worthy of his collection.

    • OrphanGuy

      Exner did do the designs those kits were based on. He was commissioned to do a series of sketches – for I think Esquire magazine around 1964 – of what he thought the classics like Duesy, Stutz, Mercer and Packard would look like now…1964.

  33. chad

    yep, like many say I see the ford bird right down to the door handles. Who copied who?

  34. Gallagher Engineering

    That Guy: Well, okay, if you say do.

  35. LD71

    Not fond of the sheet metal, but what to me is most interesting about the dash is the ‘center stack’. Talk about futuristic, that design is what today’s sedans have come to!
    LD71 😁

  36. Gallagher Engineering

    Orphan guy: There was a Packard concept car that was never produced and is similar to this “so called” Dusey, but the Packard outshined the Dusey on all angles. I think this concept Packard is where Lee Iococa got the Rolls Royce grille concept of the proper way to reframe the grille to make it look good on the Lincoln “Mark” series.
    You want to see some nice older concept cars look up Packards of the late 50’s

    • OrphanGuy

      Definitely. The Packard Predictor resides at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend. Its a stunner…though ironically it was also the inspiration for the Edsel’s snout. Inspiration can take some strange turns on the way to reality

  37. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Seriously, who would be the buyer for such a thing?

    A Duesenberg fanatic like Leno maybe?
    And using Hemmings instead of a high-end auction? Or maybe that had been tried already.
    Do museums buy cars, or only show items owned by other people?

    Seriously, I think the seller will own this one forever.

  38. J

    Yes I was just going to comment – looks like a goofy 68 suicide T bird custom –

  39. Jose Delgadillo

    The Stutz was based on Pontiac Grand Prix chassis and body. The dash and interior clearly show the connection. The Dusey as stated was built by Ghia, they might have used the basic body structure, floor pan, cowl, engine cradle, and rear suspension. Flashy rich folks like Elvis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin had Stutz (s)?,

  40. Gallagher Engineering

    I never liked the late model Stutz, I found it to be one of the ugliest vehicles ever made. I even found the homely looking VW Beetle to be somewhat better looking.
    And if Elvis Presley, or Sammy Davis, or Dean Martin had one of these,,, they sold them because they got tired of being laughed at.
    Most people did not like the sad attempts at replicating the Stutz.

    • Ching -A-Trailer

      A kid I went to high school with was driving a large pickup and blew a red light. Totaled a Stutz. I believe it was the corner of Clark and Buena Vista in Burbank.

      • OrphanGuy

        Must have been Dino

        Like 1
  41. Mike Robinson

    I saw this car many times at the ACD museum in Auburn Indiana. Pictures cannot do it justice. This thing is huge and majestic. I have always loved it. I think as someone else commented it would be a great addition to Jay Leno’s collection of Duesenbergs. I hope he is watching this sale.

    Like 1
  42. Dustin

    Duesenberg went under in 1937 but this car was named the same thing. The original Duesenbergs were BEAUTIFUL. The only thing the ads said were “He (or she) drives a Duesenberg.” And yes, it is spelled Duesey.

  43. Chris K. Green

    I never understood the concept of “barn find”. Where do all these cows get their money? Are they selling milk on the black market? :-)

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