August and Fred Duesenberg were self taught master mechanics who used their skills to build fantastic race cars and engines. The brothers opened their first independent auto shop in 1913 in St. Paul, Minnesota. They quickly gained a reputation for building winners. One feat that cemented their legacy came in 1923 when Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix from behind the wheel of a Duesenberg powered car. It was event that helped the struggling passenger car company survive.
Two years prior to that GP the brothers introduced the Duesenberg Model A, the first series production car from their company. Despite being the first car to be mass produced with a straight 8 engine, they quickly discovered they were much better engineers than salesmen. E.L. Cord saw the potential in the company and the brothers behind it, even if sales lagged. He struck a deal to acquire Duesenberg as part of Auburn Automobile Company on this day in 1926. Though Cord would reinvent the company as a leader in luxury throughout the 1920s and early 30s, it was not invincible. By 1937 the Great Depression would kill the brand. In retrospect, selling cars for $25,000 when a Ford Model A could be had for under $500 when everyone was broke may not have been the best idea.