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A Duesenberg, Mercer, and Simplex Holiday Greeting from The Old Motor

Updated – The Old Motor workshop is filled with interesting cars this winter so for a holiday greeting image this year a trio of sports and racing machines are being featured. Right-to-left is a 1914 50 h.p. Simplex Speedcar from the Collier Collection at The Revs Institute which many of our readers are familiar with, in the center is a 1914 Mercer Raceabout, and behind it a 1915 Duesenberg racing car, both from the Joseph Freeman collection. In front of the cars is Lena one of the two Labrador Retriever rescue dogs that keep an eye on things in and around the shop.

All three cars have been in competition events in the past: The Simplex in the Anglo-American Rallies held here and in England in the fifties, the Mercer set a speed of 112 m.p.h on the sands of Daytona Beach in the teens, and the Duesenberg finished 2nd in the 1916 Indianapolis 300 (the only year the race was run that distance.)

The Simplex will be covered here in a final post of the series covering its rebuild soon, and both the Duesenberg and the Mercer will be featured in the future. In the meantime we would like to wish all of ours readers from around the world a happy and merry Holiday Season and New Year.

Update below.


  • Lena in the shop above with left-to-right, a 1915 Duesenberg racing car, 1914 Mercer Raceabout, and a 1914 Simplex Speedcar.


  • You may think she is growling, but in the dog world this is called smiling, and Lena does it through out the day when she is very happy about something.

Update – A bit more about Cassie and Lena. I have had a dog or dogs ever since going off on my own at the age of nineteen in 1974 with $200 in my pocket that I had saved to open a shop. For equipment a small toolbox, hand tools, hydraulic bottle jack and a set of jack stands were it at the time and the goal was to open a restoration shop, which was finally achieved in 1976.

Having a dog around a workshop is ideal for them as there is quite a bit of activity going on which they thrive on. Lena above and with Cassie below are both Labrador Retriever rescue dogs that live with me and spend the day and early evening in the shop. They did not have very good lives at the beginning, but that has changed for the better for them. Cassie was found at the local Humane Society, and without a doubt has turned out to be the best behaved (after a little training,) and loyal dog I have ever had.

Lena was found on her own in Grand Central Station in NYC by the Port Authority Police before she came here. The rescue organization passed on the fact that the Police wanted to keep her for a mascot, but for some reason were not allowed to. She is very small, very friendly, and SMILES a lot when she is happy as you can see in the image above! Both of them like to hang around in the shop and yard all day and sleep by the wood stove in the winter.

Lena is a one in a million and is fearless, she greets the horse and dairy cows on a family farm across the road by jumping up in the air so she is looking eye-to-eye with them and loves most car noises, fire, sparks, welding and the sound compressed air makes in use. I have to keep an eye on her when using a welding torch as she will jump up and try to eat the fire!

In the near future I am going to get some dog goggles and train her to ride in open cars without a windshield because she truly enjoys it. She reminds me of “Bud,” the famous dog who in 1903 went on the first successful transcontinental journey with Vermont Doctor Horatio N. Jackson, and Sewall K. Crocker in a Winton. Look for her in a car video later in the year.

The motto of the story is to get a rescue dog instead of one from a breeder if you are thinking about getting one. Unless they have been badly mistreated in the past, you will have a devoted friend for the rest of their life, who will be thankful to you for saving them.


51 responses to “A Duesenberg, Mercer, and Simplex Holiday Greeting from The Old Motor

  1. A very cozy scene, David. Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, both two-legged and four.

  2. Thanks for your good wishes and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the UK and many thanks for your great site from an enthusiastic visitor. Keep up the good work!

  3. A very Merry Christmas to you and yours. Thank you for sharing your many gifts, talents, and experiences with the rest of us throughout the year. Your site has enriched and enlivened our days and we wish you continued health, blessings, and happy motoring!

  4. David, thank you so much for all of the pleasure that I derive from your site. As Gene said, “Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours, both two-legged and four.” May you enjoy health, peace, and joy.

  5. Brass cars and dogs! What a great place to work everyday. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone at the Old Motor, Andy

  6. Merry Christmas to Lena from Blue and Carmen. May you have a fresh chewy in your stocking! Incidentally, the visored headlight lense, are they an accessory or oem?

    • Thanks, Chuck, Lena’s pal Cassie was photo shy late last night when this photo was taken.

      The Macbeth lenses are aftermarket and were manufactured in Pittsburgh, PA, and have been on the car since it was restored.

  7. Merry Christmas David!
    May the new year be prosperous and full of joy (with a shop full of fine machinery as that how could it not?)
    Again, thank you for sharing all the wonderful content we see every day on the Old Motor.

  8. As an old reader and new contributor I wish man and dog alike a happy and speedy Merry Christmas with thanks for the pleasue of reading your excellent site.

  9. The pup looks quite a bit modern to me.

    Merry Christmas Dave!

    Send me a pic of the Dusenberg’s motometer if/when you get a chance I’d appreciate it.

    Remember to take a break during the Holiday,

    ~ Mr. Motometer

  10. Merry Christmas from sunny and ‘sort of’ warm New Zealand – (7.45 am Christmas Day and it is only 14 degrees C and going for a high of 17).

  11. Thank you for the work you do. The website has been a tremendous source of enjoyment and learning for me. Best wishes for the holidays!

  12. To Lena; Who’s a good doggie? You, you’re a good doggie. Yes you are, you’re a good doggie!

    Merry Christmas, and a great New Year, to all the Old Motor crew.

  13. David, thank you for all you do to keep the site interesting, educational and unique. Merry Christmas to all, including the 4 legged security.

  14. David…My very, very best to you and yours, for the Season and the New Year- two footed as well as four. I can’t begin to tell you and thank you, as well, for sharing so much with us and letting us learn from the so many people who contribute to the site. You deserve to be congratulated for bringing and curating so much information. The exchange between young and old, learned and like me, not so.. I gain something “new” every time I visit the site. Before, I embarrass you any more by “gushing”… don’t stop, don’t change the format… only, just continue keepin’ on keepin’!

    • Further, a warm Christmas/ Holiday Greeting to all of you out there around the world, who come to David’s “Table” and bring a contribution for the rest of us to think on a bit… the very best for the New Year!!!

  15. What a great photo! How often would an opportunity to capture such awesome examples in a shop environment arise?

    Merry Christmas and thanx for being here. Old Motor is a daily stop for me.

  16. What a pure joy to work in a shop with such historic artifacts and true masterpieces of design and engineering. It’s amazing how a lifetime dedication to craftsmanship brings such wonderful things into your life. It shows that in America hard work and perservance still bring you rewards and satisfactions beyond monetary compensations. One never has to go to work when your life’s passion is your purpose for getting up in the morning. Merry Christmas! Thanks for you great website.

  17. Well done . A great web site.
    I am glad to see that the cars there are looking as unpolished as as my Whites with Whistling Billy sitting as it came off the race track on its last event at Castle Combe in early October. Last year on the preparations for the first event of the season I found a cracked cylinder. An old spare block is on the car so the steam pressure is kept down to 600 psi but we are in the process of making new ones as the old are too fragile with corrosion and aging to take the full 800 psi ( and a bit of over-run!).


    Between the speedsters and the great looking dog (just like the one I had growing up) this is a great way to start Christmas morning.
    Thanks for all the work you and everyone else does to put out this site.

  19. Thanks to all of you and The Old Motor sponsors for your support!

    I must use the the word “we” to much in the text when I write which gives many of you the notion that there is a staff here.

    There is none than the four-legged security team and myself along with some occasional help from friends.

    Happy Holidays to all!!!

    • Thanks, Roger – Lena is only 3.5 years old and she certainly could tell us about “Life in the Big City.” She is a rescue dog that was found abandoned in Grand Central Station in NYC just before she came here.

  20. Merry Christmas David! Always good to see the stable so well stocked with fou- wheeled vehicles and four-legged creatures. I am with the others in my thanks for all you do for this site and for my wonderful cars. I know you appreciate them as much (or more) than I.

    Happy New Year to you and Linda up there in snow and maple sugar land! All the Best,

    • Well, Thank you Joe and Merry Christmas to you also. The Mercer and the Duesenberg are certainly wonderful cars to look at, work on, and drive on the road and the track, and thanks for being willing to share them with others!!

  21. SEEING these Race BRED & DESIGNED early cars — brings back the early seventies memory of being flown over to Phoenix for emergency last minute repairs DUTY For Mr. Peter Kruidenier’s V-16 ’31 Cadillac & Tom Barrett’s Antique & Classic Cars that were ferried under their own power from Paradise Valley to a benefit Concours d’ Elegance in Phoenix . At after 10:00 P.M., we were finishing up the returns on a really great desert 2- lane road with NO one else on it!. the last car was a 1911 Stoddard Dayton Speedster with tall wheels and huge engine: I rode “Mechanic’s seat” and Tom was driving: The carbide lamps were ignited to PIERCE the darkness — (which they DO, indeed!!!) The engine was cranked into life — and doing poketa – poketas ans we got “settled in” for the 10 plus mile ride. we chugged out of the lot — and I realized that sunglasses were all I had to shield my eyes as Tom had the Monocle “winshield” He determined speed by exhaust explosions from the CUTOUT which was open! That’s 40. That’s 60, that’s 80!!! Tom screamed: ” I don’t wanna go faster at night, — I might hit a coyote!!! THESE GIANTS DESERVE PRESERVATION!!! BETTER YET: I experienced TOM, Stoddard Dayton , Piercing gas lights and 80+ MPH, over the NO TRAFFIC 2-lane rising & falling desert back road!!! A ONCE in a lifetime WOW! TOM was not afraid to open ‘er UP and let ‘er RUN!!! Neither was I — (as the guy who kept the fuel pressure correct. for the necessary high flow rate at racing speeds . What a treat for me!!! Merry Christmas everyone !!!

  22. Seems this would be the time for most readers to say thanks. I too, appreciate the work that must go into this ( and for editing some of my comments for me, Hemmings isn’t near as tolerant) This site brings a little sunshine to the Northwoods of Wis, which is void of that for the next few months. The vintage truck coverage here is always appreciated and the street scenes are great. My favorites are the Friday schpeil and the gas stations. I’ve learned a lot here, and at 62 years old, that’s really cool. Have a safe holiday season all.

  23. Merry Christmas, David, and keep up the great work with TOM and the superb restoration work. You do an outstanding job of keeping the wonderful brass age cars running and the website always contains fascinating information.

  24. I’m not a dog man but have lusted after a Mercer Raceabout since first I read of them as a schoolboy in the ’50’s. Ken Purdys story hit home awfully hard. It took fifty years before ever I saw one in the flesh at Hershey in 2006. It exceeded my expectations by a country mile. Not only every bit as glorious as I dreamt but obviously with an owner who drove it how the maker intended. Seat and controls shiny with use, splattered with mud and a front tyre through to the canvas. Can you guess who is the only man in the world I envy?
    Unfortunately my champagne tastes are combined with a beer pocket so no Mercer for me..
    Best of the season to you, I enjoy the site but you’d never guess I lean towards the early stuff would you.

  25. The Lab we had when I was a kid used to smile like that. Scared the new mailman almost to death. When she was very old she came along on a family outing at the river and after a lot of swimming and, of course, endlessly fetching, she lay down in the sun to snooze — and never woke up. That’s the way a Lab should go!

    Thanks for The Old Motor, David. Looking forward to another great year.

  26. The Old Motor newsletter is always a welcome treat. Thanks for taking the time to compose, take the photos ( or in the case of old photos ” finding” them ) and share your knowledge about old car stuff.
    Rescue dogs are the greatest. You were really lucky to be able to rescue and provide a great home to two Labrador retrievers. In my earnest search for a rescue dog all I could find were pit bulls with a considerable ” record”. I’m not a canine parole officer and so I opted for a great puppy of dubious parentage. He’s smart , good looking and anxious to join in on whatever I’m doing. People ask ” what kind of dog is he?”
    I often answer ” His Dad was a Bull dog and his Mom was a Shitzu….. that makes him a B*llshitzu! ”


    My response always gets a hearty laugh.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year too!

  27. Never saw a dog smile! Labradors only? But we had this Rottweiler, Kelly, who was “talking” to us. This means that when you were talking to her and scratching her back simultaneously, she would start growling and open and shut her mouth. You got a funny noise and I suppose she was trying to imitate us and of course the dog was a she. 🙂

    Thanks David for the weekly newsletter and what a job doing this all by yourselves!
    Best Wishes for the New Year to you and your family and may this additional run around the sun bring you prosperity and good health.
    Greetings for miserable, cold, humide Belgium.

  28. David, Blessings to you and yours for the Season and the New Year. Very many thanks for the enjoyment and learning you bring to all of us!

  29. Thanks for sharing your shop and vintage iron ….always great to learn about how each has been gone over to be a reliable driver. Keep us posted on any future work as your site is the only one worth going to weekly. Here’s wishing you and Linda a doggone good year for 2017.

  30. We have a Cassie at our place, too, but she’s a dachshund. She and her companion Bebe are both rescues, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Dogs are next to God, for sure. Thanks for all that you do, and have a good and prosperous and safe New Year!

  31. Happy New Year to all. Last night I watched a rerun of a movie called The World, Flesh, and the Devil starring Harry Belafonte made in 1959. It’s about the last people on earth surviving an atomic war. I thought of all Old Motor readers. The scenes of vehicles abandoned are full and I mean full of 50s cars, trucks and buses. Watch and freeze frame these scenes for an extraordinary cornucopia of vehicles. And Belafonte driving a beautiful Chrysler 300 rag top.

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