Duesenbergs highlight upcoming Guyton Collection auction

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1930 Duesenberg Model J convertible sedan by Murphy is considered the most valuable of Fred Guyton's collection, which goes up for sale in early May | RM Sotheby's photos

The back cover of RM Sotheby’s catalog for the Guyton Collection auction is a drawing of a vintage vehicle protruding front and back from a small building labeled as Mason’s Garage.

“The logo on the back cover of this catalogue was hand drawn by Fred Guyton, evoking a classic car experience he enjoyed with a friend overseas while hunting for cars in England,” RM Sotheby’s explains. “A part of the family collection for many years, the Mason’s Garage logo is quite fitting in light of the collection’s complete presentation of Duesenberg history, from the Mason motor car through the mighty Model J.”

Cars produced bearing the Duesenberg brothers name are among the most cherished by car collectors, but it was Edward R. Mason of Des Moines, Iowa, who in 1905 commissioned Fred Duesenberg to create a runabout powered by a 24-horsepower flat-twin engine with an epicyclic transmission. Fred’s younger brother, August, soon joined him at Mason, which in 1909 was purchased by washing machine-maker Maytag and was moved to Waterloo, Iowa.

Maytag’s involvement ended just a couple years later and in 1913, the Duesenberg brothers moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where Fred engineered a 4-cylinder “walking beam” engine that the Duesenbergs installed in cars designed for racing, including a pair they readied, bearing the Mason banner, for the 1913 Indianapolis 500.

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Model J with its top up
1906 Mason was created by Fred Duesenberg

A year later, the Duesenberg Bros. raced under their own banner at Indy with flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker driving one of their cars. The brothers moved to New Jersey and then to Indianapolis, where they began production on their first road car, the Model A. 

Four Duesenbergs — a 1906 Mason Touring, a 1926 Duesenberg Model A Touring by Millspaugh & Irish, a 1927 Duesenberg Model X Dual-Cowl Phaeton by Locke, and a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan by Murphy — are among the more than 60 cars going to auction from the collection of the late Fred Guyton.

Collectively, RM Sotheby’s notes, that quarter represents the evolution of the Duesenberg Bros. motor car design.

1927 Model X
1926 Model A

Pre-sale estimated values for those four cars are $150,000 to $200,000 for the Mason, one of 25 built in 1906, formerly part of the Harrah’s Collection and owned by only 5 people since new; $175,000 to $225,000 for the Model A, which has part of the Guyton Collection since 1971; $300,000 to $400,000 for the Model X, one of only 13 produced, one of only 4 surviving, and another former Harrah’s car; and $900,000 to $1.1 million for the Model J, which originally was driven from Indianapolis to Los Angeles by Indy racer Leon Duray, who wrote that the “car is perfect if there is such a thing.”

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Guyton’s collection was built around veteran, brass and classic era vehicles and all of it, including hundreds of pieces of automobilia and other collectibles – such as World War I and II aviation and naval ephemera, as well as Minic clockwork toy cars – are being offered at no reserve.

1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
1930 Packard Speedster

Guyton studied architecture at the University of Illinois, spent a year with the Peace Corps, and then a stint in the U.S. Army, where he was a helicopter pilot. After his military service, he moved to St. Louis and co-founded the Peckham Guyton Alberts & Viets architecture firm, serving as chairman for 35 years of the company that designed, among other projects, Busch Gardens, Universal Studios theme parks and the Anheuser-Busch world headquarters.

While the Duesenbergs are the stars of the auction, and while the catalog includes e at least one vehicle with a low pre-auction estimate of $5,000 (a 1962 Volkswagen Beetle with sunroof), the catalog also includes two other vehicles that could bring seven-figure bids — a 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Roi des Belges and a 1930 Packard 734 Speedster Eight Phaeton.

The auction is scheduled for May 4-5 at the Staenberg Family Complex, located just off U.S. 67 south of I-70 in St. Louis.

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To view the entire auction catalog, visit RM Sotheby’s website.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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