James (Jim) Hoe of Weston, Connecticut, was a well-known Duesenberg mechanic in the 1950s, and a sports car and racing enthusiast. Classic cars became popular with collectors in the mid-1950s, with the Model “J” Duesey being the most desirable of all. Hoe then began restoring the famed Model “J” Duesenberg cars in his Sports Car Garage located in southwestern part of the state, about ten miles north of the City of Norwalk.
Hoe, on the left in the lead image built his Model “J” Special hill climb and road racing car in the late-1940s out of serial number J-183, which he purchased for one-hundred dollars at a junkyard. He cut and shortened the frame, drilled it full of lightening holes, and then built the make-do bodywork equipped with fenders made from side-mounted spare tire center covers.
According to racingsportscars.com Hoe first raced the “Special” at the Thompson Race Track in Connecticut on August 8, 1950. He entered it in the unrestricted class and finished in fifth place. His best finish with the machine was in 1951 at Thompson where he finished in fourth in the same class.
Between 1950 to ’53 he also raced it at the Watkins Glen and Bridgehampton, New York tracks. In hill climb competition his best finish was sixth place in 1951 at Giant’s Despair Hill Climb in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
The chassis of Hoe’s “Special” survived and has been restored and fitted with replica Murphy dual-cowl phaeton coachwork.
On the right-hand side of the photo below courtesy of the Weston Historical Society is a 1930 to ’31 Model “A” Ford “Special” constructed by Gayle Smith, Hoe’s assistant for over thirty years. The Ford is equipped with an OHV cylinder head, a magneto, and a tubular header.