A very special moment in our hobby occurred as one decade ended and another began. The very first Duesenberg passenger car—owned by the same family for 100 years (you read that correctly)—has been donated to the ACD Museum in Auburn, IN.
James and CyrAnn Castle of Monterey, CA, gifted their cherished 1921 Duesenberg Model A Coupe wishing that it be preserved and enjoyed for many generations to come.
Last summer, I was contacted by Gordon McCall regarding the Castle’s desire to preserve their Duesenberg, potentially in a museum setting. I had worked previously with Museum director Brandon J. Anderson and collector Perry Pintzow of Albuquerque, NM, with respect to his generous gifting of a 1926 Model A Duesenberg show chassis. The ACD Museum soon emerged as the single best perpetual caretakers of the Castle’s hugely significant vehicle.
The 1921 Duesenberg Model A Coupe features one-off coachwork by the Bender Body Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It was produced to the order of the car’s original owner, Samuel Northrup Castle, including space for his seven-foot-tall stature. Mr. Castle was from a family of Hawaiian missionaries and was a founder of Castle & Cooke Co., a Hawaiian sugar cooperative, when he ordered the car and received it in 1921 due to delayed production. 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.
The Castle Duesenberg emerged from an extensive restoration to debut at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. As part of the judging team that year, we were blown away by the car’s jaw-dropping appeal among marque enthusiasts and the general public; it won the Classic Cars of America Trophy. Soon to be followed by Best of Show at the Niello Concours at Serrano, and the Automotive Heritage Award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
In a September 1968, newspaper article, J.B. McIntosh, nephew of Samuel’s son James C. Castle, commented about the car’s potential future disposition:
We have had offers to sell to various museums including Bill Harrah’s in Reno. But she has always been in the family and we have a rather deep sentimental attachment that goes beyond any intrinsic value. Perhaps, some day, she will wind up in a museum…” – J.B. McIntosh
Over 50 years later, the “Lady from Hawaii” has found its new home!
“Chris and I just want to say we are so glad she is where she is for the whole world to see the ‘Lady from Hawaii.” – James and CryAnn Castle.
The “Castle Coupe” will make its public debut under Museum ownership at the February 9th Boca Raton Concours where a special class of Model A/X Duesenbergs will be featured.