52-Year Restoration of Rare Deusenberg
Yesterday I posted a blog about Nigel Matthew's invitation to judge at Rome's Unique Cars International Concours. Today I'm pleased to add another contribution from Nigel, one that he covered in his latest Vancouver Province article on the John Dart Deusenberg, and has granted me permission to quote.
Nigel tells us "John T. Dart grew up as a youngster peering through the windows of the Duesenberg factory and said that 'one day I will own a car like that.' " In 1951, by then a Canadian Pacific Airlines pilot, he purchased a neglected and weather-beaten Le Baron bodied Dual Cowl Phaeton Duesenberg for $1,000, the sole survivor of three delivered to Montreal in 1929. It took 52 years to restore the car to its former glory. When asked why, Dart replied, "because I kept running out of money." The completed vehicle remained somewhat of a secret until long-time confidante Harvey McEwen persuaded Dart to show the Steamworks Concours d'Elegance in Vancouver's Gastown. Television reporters interviewed Dart throughout the day and by evening the story had aired from coast to coast. This tale sadly came to a close on May 2nd when Captain John T. Dart passed away at the age of 94. Nigel adds, "it is ironic that, having spent so a number of years restoring J149, Dart drove the car less than 15 kilometres. I know that during countless evenings sitting behind the wheel, he had covered a few thousand in his mind."
Dart's school teacher was aviator Charles Lindbergh's mother. The car's original owner was the grandson of Sir William Van Horne, one of North America's most colorful railway pioneers. Van Horne had been general manager of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul railroad until he was hired to take up the same position with the fledgling Canadian Pacific Railway on January 1st, 1882. He eventually became president and laid the groundwork for one of the world's great railway systems. Van Horne, Deusenberg, Lindbergh, John Dart. memorable names linked by a rare and beautiful classic car.
Posted by: Philip Powell Source