Motoring Trailblazers - Duesenberg Straight Eight

Sat 11th May 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Duesenberg Straight Eight
Built by the Duesenberg brothers, the Straight Eight was a vehicle which could hit 100mph which is worthy of accreditation itself baring in mind the fact that the car was built in 1921.

But a car travelling at that speed, in that decade, would have been a more than hair-raising experience, but one made a little less frightening by the virtue of their four-wheel brake system which they insisted on installing to help slow the car down quicker.

Most cars of the time employed two rear brakes for stopping, but then most cars weren’t capable of producing the Straight Eight’s engine power. The talents of Fred and August Duesenberg were in demand, their engines producing victories at the Indianapolis 500, the 1921 French Grand Prix and breaking a number of speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

But it was the Straight Eight, or Model A, which was the brothers’ biggest achievement, a triumph of performance and luxury which changed the thinking on brakes forever.

Fred and August had built aircraft and marine engines during the First World War, and it was perhaps that experience which inspired the brothers to lean on Lockheed to install a hydraulic system which would bring a halt to the fastest production car of its generation.

There were 149 units of the Straight Eight built from 1921, which came with a starting price of $6500, almost $100,000 in today’s money, ensuring that the Straight Eight was real contender for supercar status.