Attractively styled, with cutting-edge engineering for its time, such as an overhead cam engine and hydraulic 4-wheel brakes, Model A Duesenbergs were available with custom coachwork and also a range of production bodies built by Millspaugh & Irish, another Indianapolis firm.
However, despite the luster of important racing victories, the Model A’s limited sales success – only about 600 were built in five years – had more to do with the high factory price than anything else, for there was certainly nothing wrong with the design and engineering of the cars themselves.
The Model A, though, is historically important, as it paved the way for the Model J and also demonstrated the Duesenbergs’ exceptional engineering prowess and forward-thinking at a time when most cars’ features, including the most costly marques, went little beyond pedestrian L-Head engines and primitive mechanical brakes.
Seven standard body styles were offered for the 1923 Duesenberg models, in price from $5,500 to $7,300.
The Duesenberg’s impressive in-line eight featured a single overhead camshaft driven off the crankshaft via beveled gears. Displacement was a relatively small 260 cubic inches, but it developed impressive horsepower ratings and 170-foot pounds of torque at 1500 RPM. An interesting induction system included a single Stromberg 1.5-inch updraft carburetor, utilizing a firewall-mounted vacuum tank. The fuel link ran up through the exhaust manifold to be preheated. Pistons would have been aluminum unless the customer ordered otherwise.
A bright spot in 1923 was an endurance run that took place at the Indianapolis Speedway in April. A fully-equipped standard-bodied touring car drove non-stop for 3,155 miles that took 50 hours and 21 minutes at an average speed of 62.7 mph and required two tire changes.
All Duesenbergs were delivered with knock-off wire wheels mounted to 33 x 5-inch cord tires. The orthodox ladder frame featured Watson Stabilator shock absorbers hooked to semi-elliptic springs front and rear. Brakes were an industry-leading four-inch hydraulic system with 16-inch drums and circumferential cooling fins. Dual side lamps (Searchlight made by Stewart-Warner Speedometer Corp.) had mirrors designed into the back of each and were standard equipment.
Related Reading : Duesenberg Model A History
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Brothers Fred and August Duesenberg will be remembered always for their outstanding motorcars. True perfectionists and genius engineers, the Duesenbergs were responsible for some of the very best racing and road-going cars in the world from the building of their first cars in 1913 until the last automobiles to bare their name was produced in 1937. But while all Duesenberg cars were outstanding….