I'm not in the habit of promoting other than my own vehicles at market let alone making predictions. Yet herewith I violate those two rules by inviting readers to take a close look at the 1966 Duesenberg Model D concept by Ghia. This remarkable one-off is scheduled to be auctioned Saturday at RM Sotheby's in Auburn, Indiana. It would please me to no end to see this remarkable time capsule in the hands of a new owner.

What makes this concept prototype a must-have can be summed up in just a few words. For starters, the Virgil Exner design is an enduring example of excellence in modern interpretations of thirties classics (Exner was responsible for the trendsetting Chrysler "Forward Look" of the 1950s). Secondly, coachwork by Ghia puts it in a higher realm among global design houses. Then you have the storied marque from which it is based, virtually untouched original condition with just short of 800 original miles... and those killer custom-made Firestone whitewalls!

Photos: RM Sotheby's

Where am I going with this?

Those seeking prominence on the show circuit should grab your bidding paddles and checkbooks. Preservation class: Check. Coachbuilder class: Check. Revival class: Check. And it's a Duesy (sorry, couldn't resist)! 1966 Ghia Duesenberg is a time capsule during a time when the resurgence of classic era vehicles was a real possibility.

Now, before anyone gets too excited, the presale estimate weighs in at $300-350,000. Just enough to scare off revisionist naysayers. But put yourself on the lawn at any major international concours and the dollars dissipate like morning dew. 

Lack of Funding Meant Only One Concept D Would See the Light of Day

[summarized from CarStyling.ru]

The Duesenberg Model D concept was the one and only car built by the 1960s Duesenberg Corporation. It had been started by Fritz Duesenberg, son of one of the original Duesenberg founders, with real-estate baron Fred J. McManis, Jr. as president. 

Their initial vision was a $10,000 super-luxury sedan on a 120-inch wheelbase, but that soon grew into an even costlier car with a 132-inch chassis and, briefly, an aluminum V-8 with more than 500 cubic inches and 300 horsepower.

Like its hallowed forebears, the new Model D had grand proportions: It was a four-door brougham sedan measuring 137.5 inches between wheel centers and 245 inches overall. The announced price was a lofty $19,500, but included automatic transmission (Chrysler TorqueFlite), automatic climate control, all-disc brakes (big Airheart units), torsion-bar front suspension, chrome wire wheels, and power everything.

Per Duesenberg tradition, back seaters could scrutinize their own speedometer and clock; they also enjoyed a separate radio, fold-out writing tables, even a TV and bar. Interior trim was top-grade leather with solid mahogany accents.

The exterior blended nostalgic elements — razor-edge roof, center-opening doors, clamshell-shaped wheel openings — with trendy stuff like hidden headlamps. With 350 horsepower from a stock 440 Chrysler V-8 (the 426 Hemi was considered but rejected, as was all-independent suspension), the Model D had good performance for a 5,700-pound biggie. 

But this first modern Duesenberg never went any further. Though plans were afoot for limousine and four-door convertible models, simple start-up of sedan production demanded $2.5 million, and the money was nowhere to be found.

So, after a few months in the limelight, Duesenberg Corporation faded away, which was a real shame. According to the few who've driven it, the Model D handled well for its size and had all the luxury anyone could want.

The 1966 Duesenberg Concept D was first sold to the public at the Parke Bernet Galleries auction held at the Museum of Transportation in Brookline MA on May 27, 1968. My very first live auction. Thanks, Dad, for letting me play hooky from school that day!

Full auction description located at RM Sotheby's. Bid early and often, and tell 'em Eric sent you!

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