The Lyon Air Museum in Southern California is currently exhibiting ten Duesenberg automobiles from the collection of General William Lyon. The Duesenberg display will be held July 9-24, 2011, at the facility, located on the west side of the runway at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.
“The Duesenberg represents an innovative melding of American elegance, engineering and extravagance,” said Mark Foster, president of Lyon Air Museum. “General Lyon has preserved a great American legacy and with this exhibit he wants to share with visitors to his Museum the unique experience of seeing some of these grand automobiles up close.”
With its distinctive appearance and powerful engine, the Duesenberg automobile was the embodiment of luxury and lavish detail in the first half of the twentieth century. The cars were custom-built by E.L. Cord and Fred Duesenberg during an era when America’s love affair with the automobile was in its infancy. It is estimated that 378 of the 481 originally manufactured Duesenbergs are still on the road today.
Included in the General William Lyon cars on exhibit will be examples of the legendary Duesenberg Model J series, including the following:
1929 Duesenberg Model J LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton – With coachwork by LeBaron, this automobile, Chassis No. 2125, Engine No. J101, is the First Model J Duesenberg. An irreplaceable piece of American automotive history, it first served as a factory demonstrator car.
1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Dual Cowl Phaeton – Coachwork by Walter M. Murphy Company. First owned by John J. McCarthy, the president of the Cracker Jack Company, this Duesenberg—finished in blue with dark blue fenders and brown leather interior—-made its first public appearance in the 1930s when it transported the Grand Marshal in the Rose Parade. It was later owned by American collector William F. Harrah, who lent it to Columbia/Tristar for its role in the 1982 movie “Annie,” in which the 265hp Duesenberg “straight eight” was used to chase down the bad guys and save Annie.
1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Speedster – Originally called a “disappearing top torpedo convertible coupe,” this classic won First in Place and Reserve Best in Show at the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Weymann “Taper Tail” Speedster – Originally owned by Walter Varney, a businessman and pilot from San Francisco who started commercial aviation as we know it. His fledgling air service later became United Airlines.
1931 Duesenberg SJ Murphy Convertible Coupe – This “disappearing top” was originally built for Sid Smith, a cartoonist for the famous “Andy Gump” comic strip.
1935 Duesenberg SJ Gurney Nutting Speedster – Chassis No. 2614 is the highest serial number Duesenberg. The car was built for the Maharaja of Indore in London. It was supposed to be delivered to India, but after Japan invaded China, there was fear that the country might also invade India—so many wealthy Indians fled their homes. The Maharaja eventually took delivery of this car at his mansion in Santa Ana, Calif. The car disappeared and was considered lost until its rediscovery in 1959. Eventually, it was acquired by General Lyon.
About Lyon Air Museum
The 30,000-sq.ft. Lyon Air Museum opened in December 2009. The facility represents the fulfillment of a dream of Major General William Lyon, USAF (Ret), who held the position of Chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve from 1975 to 1979. Currently, General Lyon is Chairman of the Board and CEO of William Lyon Homes, Inc., Newport Beach, Calif. His passion for aviation history and youth education is the driving force behind Lyon Air Museum. In establishing the Museum, General Lyon sought to create a world-class facility that would be available to the local community and would offer educational exhibits designed to inspire young people. The Museum has on exhibit some of the world’s rarest operational aircraft and vehicles.
Lyon Air Museum is located at 19300 Ike Jones Road, Santa Ana, CA 92707. P:714/210-4585. F: 714/210-4588. Email: [email protected]. Web: www.lyonairmuseum.org. Hours of operation are daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission rates: General admission–$12; Seniors and Veterans–$9; Ages 5-17–$6; Under age 5—Free. Groups of 10 or more–$1 off each visitor. Pre-arranged school groups—Free.