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Jim Hoe’s Model “J” Duesenberg Special Racing Car

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.

17 responses to “Jim Hoe’s Model “J” Duesenberg Special Racing Car

  1. Maybe some of you guys will remember. As a youngster I remember reading a book about a hill climbing, racing at Watkins Glen, and a Duesenburg Special. It featured a wise old mechanic like Jim, wrecked Duesenburg’s and a story paralleling the above article. The Book was very reminiscent of “The Little Red Car” but Duesy’s were the car. Anybody else remember this? Through the years I’ve thought of this story but David’s article brings it all together!

    • Yes, I read that book too, right after I read “The Red Car.” I may have lusted after Duesenbergs, but in the end, I settled for my own Red Car, a 1952 MG. I restored it in green, however.

  2. I was waiting for more comments about this story. I don’t remember reading anything about this automobile. As a youngster who attended all of the Bridgehampton village races, I can’t say I remember this auto there either. Mr. Hoe seems to have been someone I would have heard about through my auto-centric early life. Maybe you had to be an ACD member or fan of the Duesy’s. Very interesting though…..the sheet metal work looks like something we would have done as teenagers.

  3. Great story. I love learning about”classics” that were hot rodded at some p[oont in their lives. I was surprised to read in the book Bow Tie Ferraris that so many Ferraris were powered by Chevy Small Blocks when their original power plants failed in the 1960s. Keep ’em coming!

    • I integrated many GM A/C systems into Jag’s, Mercedes , and other European cars in the seventies after Chevy engines were used to replace costly OEM engines. Not uncommon
      at all.

  4. Looking up J-183 in Fred Roe’s book “Duesenberg, The Pursuit of Perfection” informs us that it was originally a cabriolet town car by Derham. Given that formal town cars were in no demand as used cars, its not surprising it was the source of components for this machine.

  5. David, I have pictures and info of another J that went racing, down here in Argentina way back in 1936. Should you be interested glad to send it to you. Once again your page is a must every day, thank you.

  6. The “parking meter looking” “distributor” is probably something better than a “quarter snatcher”. “Chances are “, that instead: it is a Scintilla – Vertex Magneto — its drive — adapted to Model “A” or “B” use, and also for clearing the OHV setup — and its advance curve Modified for Racing use. There is also a good possibility that the engine is a Model B , whose main advantages include a counter-balanced crankshaft. The Magneto is manufactured in Switzerland, in a 2- story small factory that exists, today , (situated on the road that goes to the railroad station that goes to Zermatt, near the famous Mattterhorn) — for: Racing, tractors, machinery, airplanes, compressors, trucks, cars , & other) . Edwin W.

  7. My grandfather reportedly traded his race modified Model-T for a Duesenberg during the depression. He said that neither the owner nor he could afford to drive it, but how could he turn it down?

    If anybody finds a Duesenberg title with the name Paredes on it, let me know.

  8. There is a great article in special interest auto magazine ,dealing in duesy and other exotic motors in hybrid special s ,for hill climbs etc… 1974. The article was written. A must read.I think this car was mentioned.

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