Name: 1934 Duesenberg Auburn
Year(s) Produced: 1930-1934
Number Built: (?)
Class: Luxury car
Body Type: 2-door convertible
Engine: 6876 cc, 419.6 cu in., Lycoming / Duesenberg J Straight 8 (6.9L)
Power: 265hp @ 4200 RPM
0-60mph: 17 seconds
Top Speed: 116mph
Transmission: 3-speed manual
Wheelbase: 142.5 in.
Base Price: US$13,500
Highest Price: US$1,567,500 (Hagerty)
We’ve featured several movie cars here in ClassicCarLabs and these icons stand above the rest because they actually pushed audience interest in a whole new level. In the case of Mike Brouwers from New Plymouth, New Zealand, he had his eyes fixed on only prize: the The American-made Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg model used by Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones, The Temple of Doom. The said movie car was originally a replica of a 1936 Auburn Boattail Speedster. However, since the movie plot was set during 1935, it was introduced in the film as a 1934 Duesenberg Auburn convertible.
Mike couldn’t be more proud of his authentic Indiana Jones movie car – a replica of a 1934 Duesenberg Auburn
After being used in a high speed chase through Shanghai, the Duesenberg bid it’s time for decades inside a Japanese warehouse before it was bought by Mike Brouwers two years ago. Now restored in its former glory, Mike was quite mum on the total cost of restoration. He says that even his partner doesn’t mind it if he is not keen in sharing these details. “My partner hasn’t asked me in two years what I’ve spent on it, she’s a pretty incredible woman,” he said.
After several months of research and numerous phone calls in the US to directly contact the car’s maker to prove its authenticity, the strengthened bonnet, which had no reason to be there other than for stunts, further strengthened his resolve that his barn find was indeed the ‘one’. “Under the bonnet there’s a steel frame in case they needed to walk on it for a stunt,” Mike said.
A steel frame under the bonnet was installed so Harrison Ford could walk across the bonnet for a stunt.
Brouwers has never been a car man but says he’s into art and describes his vehicle as “art on wheels”. “It’s a functional piece of artwork really, I wanted to get it up and running so it could serve its purpose again. Brouwers bought the car from a dealer in Christchurch and has since spent a long time trying to get it certified and road legal, a process he said he would never do again despite the rewards.
“It was just an absolute mission, they have to go over every inch and make sure it’s up to their standard,” he said. “I really have a lot of respect for people who do up cars. They and the tradesmen who do the work are just so passionate about what they do. Not many people are that passionate. It’s something I find quite refreshing.”
Mike recalls that he has very little background on the car’s showbiz history. Nevertheless, he is familiar with the movie scenes that he can vividly recall the dents that the car suffered from its ‘acting career’. “In the movie you can see it crash into the back of a rickshaw and the bend in the bumper is still there, I asked the mechanics to leave it to preserve the history,” he said.
After patiently waiting for more than two years, Mike can now drive his road-worthy Duesenberg just in time for the Americarna.
Having been made road legal just several weeks ago Mike’s newly restored barn find was just in time for New Zealand’s biggest classic car event, the “Americarna”, which kicked off this week in New Plymouth. The classic American car festival runs from February 23 to 27, with an expected 600 registered participants. One of the highlights of the event was Wednesday’s viewing of resident businessman Bryce Barnett’s private collection of rare vehicles. Americarna organiser John Ray said it was hard to pin down a favourite or stand-out event because “so much was happening over the week”.
“I guess seeing the amount of people that come out for it, kids especially, really makes it worthwhile for me,” he said.
“This is the ninth year it has been running and every years it just gets better and better.” For more information on Americarna’s schedule of events, visit their website at http://www.americarna.com/Events/Americarna-2016/.