This historic brand could put the US back in the ultra-luxury car game.
We thought that the traditional ultra-luxury car was on its way out. Carmakers aren't interested in building hugely expensive, and hugely impressive flagship luxury cars with massive V12 or even V16 engines. In the "golden age" of automobiles, wealthy customers could order custom models with jaw-dropping styling that pushed the barriers of what was technically possible. Perhaps one of the greatest companies to push the envelope of what was possible was Duesenberg.
The Duesenberg Motors Company was founded back in 1913 by brothers August and Frederick Duesenberg in Minnesota. The company went on to build incredible luxury cars that competed with expensive European marques like Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, the Great Depression hurt the company, and it eventually folded in 1937. Even though the company went out of business so long ago, we think that there is a lasting legacy that needs to be a part of automotive culture once again. Just look at what Volkswagen has done with the Bugatti brand. What was once a bankrupt French marque from the pages of history, has now become one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world.
There have been attempts in the past to revive the Duesenberg brand, but they all failed. After World War II, August Duesenberg failed to revive his company. In the 1960, August's son Fritz came close to reviving the brand using the chassis and engine from a Chrysler Imperial. In the following decades, there were a few replica companies that built cars with the name, but very few were ever produced. The last attempt came in 2011 when a new company called Duesenberg Motors Inc. was established in Wisconsin to produce replicas. Due to a lack of cash flow, this company went under as well. So why do we think that Duesenberg deserves to live on?
Duesenbergs now have immense collector value. An SJ convertible model even sold for $4.5 million at auction in 2013. However, the people who really appreciate these types of cars are getting up there in age, and soon the cars may become forgotten.
You have probably heard the American expression that something is a "doozy," meaning that it is excellent or powerful. It is unknown whether this term really came from the Duesenberg car, but we really love the story. We think that reviving the Duesenberg brand would be the perfect strategy for GM. Cadillac has shown off some gorgeous concept cars in recent years, but none of them seem to make production. Concepts like the Ciel, Elmiraj, and Escala are all perfect ideas for an ultra-luxury brand above Cadillac. GM might not be able to make a business case for these models as Cadillacs, but the Duesenberg brand could make sense.
Mercedes is jumping back into the ultra-luxury segment with the Maybach 6 Concept, and Rolls Royce continues to operate without any major, direct competitors. We would love to see GM show off its best technology in a premium package. Just imagine if GM could create amazing luxury models and a hypercar with over 1,000 horsepower. We don't care if these cars come with big engines or some kind of hybrid powertrain, as long as they keep the looks that made Duesenberg famous.