Famous “20 Grand” Duesenberg Visits Jay Leno’s Garage
Any Duesenberg will attract attention, but the car featured in this “Jay Leno’s Garage” episode always stands out from the rest.
This four-door car was built as a show car for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, where it became known at the time as the “Twenty Grand” Duesenberg because of its hefty price tag back then at $20,000. la. Leno notes in the video that an average American car cost less than $1,000 at the time, and an average home under $2,000.
Twenty Grand once is not Most Expensive Duesenberg Ever Made— the 1934 Duesenberg Walker Coupe was $25,000 when new — but it was too expensive to attract first-time buyers. Duesenberg repainted it black and brought it back to Chicago in 1934, where it was eventually sold to a wealthy buyer. It is now part of the California Nethercutt Collection, where it is displayed alongside other classics from established automakers such as Bugatti super car And Hispano-Suiza.
Like the other Duesenbergs, the Twenty Grand is powered by an eight-cylinder in-line engine based on the Indianapolis 500 race car engine. This car’s engine has a displacement of 421 cubic inches and has a supercharger, making 320. horse power. Like the price of a car, that was a staggering number in the 1930s.
The hybrid engine for racing and the performance it delivers meant that Duesenbergs were considered the driver’s car of their day, but this car was also designed with drivers in mind. Its unique carriage-built bodywork includes a baffle and a complete set of gauges for rear-seat passengers to keep an eye on what the rider is doing. It gives new meaning to the term “driver in the back seat”.
The car was restored in 1979 and has been regularly displayed since then, although for its value it is no longer regularly driven. That means the driving portion of this video is limited to a bit of driving around the airport parking lot, but it’s rare to see this unique Duesenberg in motion.