Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Howard Hughes had this Duesenberg body chopped in half to tow and support his gliders at his El Mirage Soaring School

1947, El Mirage. chassis number 2456 and engine number J-444


The Tourster body style were built exclusively by the Derham Body Company in Rosemont, Pennsylvania. A total of eight were originally produced, of which this car is the third.

The original owner of this car was comedian and actor Joe E. Brown. Brown retained the car for seven years. It then passed through a Cadillac dealer, who turned it over to Clement Hirsch. Several months later, when World War II began, Hirsch traded the car to his brother-in-law, Mark Jelmeland, who traded it into yet another dealership, Kal Kam Ford. The Ford dealer sold the car to William Hunter, from whom it was purchased by Hughes Aircraft.

The company of aviator Howard Hughes elected to remove the rear body section, in order to use the Model J to tow gliders aloft. The car's torque allowed it to launch even the largest aircraft, and it continued to serve as a test vehicle for Briegleb Aircraft after it was sold to them in 1945.

McGowan sold the finished car to Otis Chandler who would kept the car for 10 years. Chandler showed the car on a few occasions and displayed for the rest of the time in his private museum in Oxnard, California. During Chandler's ownership, the car was awarded a CCCA National First Prize, followed by its Senior Award in October 1989.

In March of 1996, Chandler sold the car to John McMullen, of Michigan. In Mr. McMullen's care, it earned Best in Show at the Gilmore Car Museum's Grand Experience in 2001 and numerous Best in Class and class awards, including, notably, Best in Class at the 1995 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance and the Gordon Buehrig Memorial Award for Best ACD Car at the same event the following year.

The car joined the John O'Quinn collection in 2007. In 2013, it came to auction at RM Auction's Amelia Island Sale where it was sold for $825,000 including buyer's premium.


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