The Duesenberg Tour - a fleet of some of the country's most rare classic automobiles will tour Greater Hampton Roads on October 19-25 and they will come through Smithfield on Tuesday, October 21st! Duesenbergs, usually seen only at classic car shows or on screen, are hard to miss – especially when 21 of them travel together.
In recent years some of those fortunate few who own Duesenbergs have driven them together on week-long tours, usually in the western part of the country. Dwight Schaubach, a Suffolk businessman and Duesie owner, wanted to bring the vintage cars from all across the county to their first tour in Virginia and North Carolina in the “Duesenberg Tour 2014 – Southern Style.” The tour will take the luxury autos from their tour base in Williamsburg to North Carolina as well as the Eastern Shore.
Glamour and quality define the Duesenbergs. One of the luxury car’s most recent screen roles was in “The Great Gatsby” with Leonardo DiCaprio driving a 1929 Duesenberg Model J. Inaccurate, perhaps, because the movie was set in 1922 but the car radiated an aura of wealth and class that was all Gatsby – and is all Duesenberg.
On Tuesday, October 21, the Duesies will cruise down VA10 from Surry and make a morning coffee stop at Smithfield Station.
“This is a really big thing for Smithfield,” said Ron Pack who is also a classic car aficionado and plans to roll out the welcome mat for the Duesies.
After enjoying the Pack family’s hospitality, the tour will continue down VA10 to Suffolk and on to Hertford, Edenton and Duck in North Carolina. Their return to Williamsburg on Wednesday will bring them back up VA 10 in the late afternoon to the ferry in Surry.
The 80+ year old Duesenbergs are the creation of two German brothers, August and Frederick Duesenberg, self-taught engineers who specialized in experimental and sports cars. In 1920 the brothers opened a plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, to produce top-of-the-line passenger cars. Their innovative Model A’s came with straight eight engines, single overhead camshafts and four wheel hydraulic brakes.
Tom Mix and Rudolph Valentino were among their celebrity customers but production lagged, sales struggled and the company went bankrupt in two years. In 1925 Cord Automobile bought the company - and the brothers’ expertise - to build luxury cars with the Duesenberg name. The company produced probably fewer than 800 vehicles, priced from $15,000 up and sold to the rich and famous including The Duke of Windsor and Clark Cable as well as other well-to-do. But in 1937, as the country sunk into the Depression, the factory closed. Only an estimated half of those fabulous cars may still exist. Retired late night talk show host Jay Leno reported owns several of those – Schaubach owns two.