Fred Duesenberg

Inducted 1970

Established the Duesenberg Motor Company in 1913 to build engines, later expanding into race cars and passenger cars

Pioneered the straight-8 engine, four-wheel hydraulic brakes on passenger cars and numerous high-performance innovations

When Fred Duesenberg built an automobile, it was sure to be a real “doozie.” A German immigrant, Duesenberg never received any formal education in mechanics. As a youth, he and his brother Augie distinguished themselves by winning bicycle races. After learning about automobiles from automotive pioneer Thomas Jeffery in Jeffery’s Rambler factory, the Duesenberg brothers gained international fame building powerful racing engines. Using his natural mechanical talents, Fred Duesenberg experimented with techniques that experienced engineers called “impossible.” When he turned his attention to designing and building passenger automobiles, his imagination took flight. Although the Duesenberg brothers’ enterprise suffered from financial problems, Fred Duesenberg’s fabulous designs and engineering skill made it possible for financier E.L. Cord to transform the struggling Duesenberg Company into a developer of classic cars that appealed to millionaires, movie stars and royalty. The slang expression “It’s a Doozie,” borrowed from the universal appeal of the Duesenberg cars, became a compliment used to describe anything that seemed extraordinary.

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