Legendary Hollywood Race Winner, Duesenberg Heads to Auction
Posted on October 5, 2012 by admin
Of all races that have taken place in the great history of classic cars, only one is known to have taken place between a Duesenberg Model J and a Mercedes-Benz S. This race, was THE event back in the day, with several Hollywood icons in attendance. Now, that same Duesenberg will be up for grabs at upcoming RM’s Hershey auction.
The car was originally owned by Phil Berg, Hollywood agent and neighbor to E.L. Cord. The car features a LeBaron “barrelside” phaeton body, the only single-cowl version of the barrelside the LeBaron built. The car was bought from a stock of Duesenbergs that Cord needed to get rid of during the Depression. Berg had been at Al Jolsen’s house with his wife, playing bridge. Zeppo and Chico Marx spotted it parked outside on the street. The Marx brothers, who owned a Murphy bodied 1928 Mercedes-Benz S boattail speedster, challenged Berg to a race. They each wagered $10,000, but it was only a short time before that amount rose to $25,000 (about as much as somebody with a $2.5 million salary makes today.)
Berg and the Marx brothers arranged a date in early October and set a 15 mile circular course at Muroc Dry Lake. With Cord’s help, Berg brought Eddie Miller on board to help prepare the Duesenberg. Miller was the head of Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg’s racing department.
The Marx brothers brought Joe Reindl onto their team. Reindl was LA area’s premier Mercedes-Benz specialist.
Everyone was convinced the Mercedes, which was lighter, lower, and smaller, would win.
On the day of the event, the two cars lined up in front of a crowd of thousands that included faces like Jolson’s, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Carole Lombard, Mae West.
The cars were flagged by Harry Miller and the Mercedes, as expected, took the lead. After the first five-mile lap, the Duesenberg gained speed and left the Mercedes far behind.
The car passed through a number of owners before it ended up in the hands of RM’s Hershey auction. The auction will be taking place October 11-12 at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Please ‘Like’ us on Facebook @facebook.com/crevierclassiccars
Please ‘Like’ our Events page on Facebook @facebook.com/crevierclassiccarsevents
For more information on Classic Cars, Classic Car Lifestyle, or to see our collection visit firstname.lastname@example.org