- The 1921 Duesenberg Model A Bender Coupe on the Pebble Beach Tour. All color photos by Richard Michael Owen of Supercars.net.
It is quite rare for a ninety plus year old pre war car to still be owned by the original family, but this unique 1921 Duesenberg Model A Coupe with custom coachwork by Bender is an exception. 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 in 1921. It was used as a demonstrator at the start of production by the Duesenberg brothers to show off the very advanced features that included a sohc race-bred engine and four wheel hydraulic brakes.
The car was purchased by Samuel Northrup Castle, a founder of the Castle and Cook Co., a Hawaiian sugar cooperative 1921. The car was first used as a passenger car, but later in its life it was used as a business service vehicle in Hawaii. After its working life was over it then remained in the family. A few years back, Jimmy Castle of Monterey, California decided that the family heirloom should be preserved and treated to a first class restoration. Castle turned the car over to Bruce Canepa to have his shop preform the work.
- The car at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it won the Classic Car Club of America Trophy.
The Canepa restoration shop approached the work seriously and preserved and restored as many of the original components as possible. The majority of the work was accomplished by Dave Stoltz, a skilled fabricator and machinist. The aluminum body panels were removed from the ash body frame, which in turn was restored by a master woodworker Charles Pyle. The SOHC straight-eight Duesenberg engine was turned over to the legendary Ed Pink Racing Engine shop in Van Nuys, California for a complete rebuild and restoration.
- L to R: The well appointed interior and dash – On its way to successfully completing the tour at Pebble Beach – The 260 c.i. sohc straight-eight.
In his quest for correctness, Dave Stoltz contacted us late in 2011 for pictures from the Fred Roe Collection of Model A Duesenberg photos, as he was rounding up every surviving original photo to help in the correctness of the effort. The complete restoration went on to take three years and some 10,000 hours of work to perform, the majority of which was done in house at the Canepa shop, including the upholstery work by Stuart Tifft.
You can view a very informative article by Robert C. Yeager of The New York Times and also see an excellent video, “Duesenberg Number One” at It’s a Duesie. The First, in Fact at the newspapers Automobiles website. You can also read another article at the Times by Yeager about The No. 2 Duesenberg a Model A that also was entered in the 2013 Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach.
The photo (above) shows the Bender Coupe in front of what appears to have been the first Duesenberg showroom. Note that Tommy Milton’s land speed record car can be seen inside behind the coupe. Photos from the Fred Roe Collection courtesy of Racemaker Press. Just (below) can be found the full details of the new Model A in 1921.