2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the Duesenberg Automobile and Motor Company, Inc. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with an unbelievable gift of the very first customer-purchased production passenger vehicle built by the Duesenberg brothers, which has been in the same family’s ownership for 100 years.
Donated by CyrAnn and James C. Castle, Jr. of California, the 1921 Duesenberg Model A Coupe features a body built by the Bender Body Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was produced to the order of the car’s original owner, Samuel Northrup Castle, including space for his seven-foot-tall stature. Mr. Castle was from a family of Hawaiian missionaries and was a founder of Castle & Cooke Co., a Hawaiian sugar cooperative, when he ordered the car and received it in 1921 due to delayed production. It was the first production Model A to be built after the prototypes were completed and tested and the first one to be sold to the public.
The Castle Duesenberg would remain in his possession until his death in 1959 when ownership was transferred to his nephew, James Christian Castle, and was transported to San Francisco and placed into storage. Upon his death in 1994, ownership then transferred to his son, James C. Castle, Jr. and his wife CyrAnn. The 1921 Duesenberg Model A Coupe has remained in the Castle family until the decision was made to entrust the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum with the care and preservation of the vehicle and to be its future steward.
“This gift to the museum is one of the most significant donations to the collection in the 45-year history of the museum,” states Brandon J. Anderson, Executive Director & CEO of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum. “The Castle’s generosity will allow for future generations to appreciate the history of Duesenberg, automotive design and engineering, the evolution of the automobile, and the legacy of the Castle family in perpetuity.”
This Duesenberg Model A was the first in American passenger vehicles to be equipped with four-wheel hydraulic brakes and an overhead-cam in-line straight-eight engine producing a top speed well over 100mph. In 2010, the Castles commissioned a 10,000-hour, three-year restoration to bring the vehicle back to its original appearance and specifications. In 2013, the Castle Duesenberg would go on to win the Classic Cars of America Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Best of Show at the Niello Concours at Serrano, and the Automotive Heritage Award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.