On Thanksgiving weekend in 1998, five months after Duesenberg 2208, still in boxes, was delivered to Randy Ema to begin the restoration, the whole family decided to go to the Pedersen Auto Museum in Los Angeles. Several Duesenbergs where there at the time, and our renewed interest in Duesenberg and desire to see fully assembled cars inspired us to make the trip. While there I bought Don Butler's Auburn Cord Duesenberg, which begins in the late 19th century and continues chronologically year by year, scrapbook style. Later I found a copy of J. L. Elbert's Duesenberg the Mightiest American Motor Car, in this case the later edition, which includes cross references sorted both by chassis and engine number. Before long I made my own list and started matching up pictures. I scanned pictures out of the various books available to me, starting with Elbert, using the engine numbers as filenames. I transcribed the various lists and cross references found in these same books into a spreadsheet and started collecting notes for each car.
The first list I made was based on Fred Roe's Duesenberg The Pursuit of Perfection, because he took the time to identify the cars in most of the photographs, and clearly researched the subject in more detail than previous authors. It was while using Roe's book that I decided to start sorting by chassis number, which meant renaming the entire collection of pictures (so that they end up in the photo galleries in that order), and, more difficult, learning to refer to the cars that way. About this time I found a spreadsheet list on the internet that turned out to be by an ACD Club member who now warns us all to avoid due all the unsubstantiated assumptions. Flawed as it was, it did show me what kinds of information are historically significant, and therefore worth remembering.
Once I started to take a larger role in the restoration of our car, I began looking through my dad's boxes of car material. The goal at the time was to locate any pictures of the car that might help in the restoration. I found few pictures, but what I did find was a lot of correspondence and some memorabilia. Among this collection was a list of Model J Duesenbergs by ACD Club member Ray Zahn. Zahn's list was made in 1968 and included detailed ownership information for many of the cars. Its primary shortcoming is that all chassis numbers are omitted; so it is sorted by engine number. Because of that, most of this information is not used in the index, except the ownership data, which is included under "Owner in 1968", and may well be misplaced.
The list in Josh Malks' Illustrated Duesenberg Buyer's Guide was used as the basis for the current index, after being informed by Chris Summers, former Duesenberg Historian of the ACD Club, that he considered it the most accurate list. Being a more recent publication, and well researched, has allowed more errors to be detected and corrected or omitted.
This section attempts to put in order facts about as many Duesenbergs as possible, knowing full well this is impossible. The individual histories of many these cars have been profoundly confused by the habit of referring to them by their engine numbers. The Duesenberg factory didn't do that; they used the chassis number as the serial number in sales transactions, and even made a feeble attempt to sell them in numerical order. But enthusiasts used the engine number essentially from the beginning to identify a car, if they bothered to identify it at all. With all the various body and engine swaps, substitutions, and even mutilations, the only way to make sense of it is to use the logical basis, and that is the chassis number. The habit of using the engine numbers to refer to a car continues today among collectors, enthusiasts, and even some historians, unfortunately.
All references to the J. Herbert Newport Collection refer to an inventory list of topical files containing information for each Model J car. Each folder is labeled with chassis number, engine number, and the wheelbase length. Several entries in the list, which is sorted by engine number, include information regarding engine and body swaps, and the names of famous owners. The description for this part of collection, titled "Duesenberg Models [series]", states that some of the material was likely gathered by a friend of Newport's, and not Newport himself. We can go further and state that some of the material was collected after Newport's death in 1947, because it includes some facts that occurred afterwards. All I have of the collection are the notations off the file folders, enumerated above.