Teaching Students About Duesenberg Automobiles

In the glamorous era of the Roaring Twenties and early 1930s, a small company from Indiana produced an automobile that would become synonymous with power, performance, and luxury. The Duesenberg was a car that made an indelible mark on automotive history, and to this day, it remains a prime example of expert engineering and artful design. As an educator, you have the unique opportunity to teach students about this important piece of American history and inspire a new generation of automobile enthusiasts.

Beginnings of Duesenberg Automobiles

To teach about Duesenberg cars, it is crucial first to explore their origin. The company was established by Fred and August Duesenberg in 1913. Born in Germany, these two talented brothers started their careers in America as bicycle repair mechanics before delving into the world of automobiles. Their initial focus was on building racing engines which led to great success at the Indianapolis 500 race.

Factors Behind Duesenberg’s Success

The quality of Duesenberg vehicles is unquestionable. Many factors contributed to their success:

1. Cutting-edge Engineering: At the time, innovations such as straight-eight engines, four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and superior suspension systems made Duesenbergs stand out from the crowd. It’s essential to discuss these technological advancements when teaching students about the brand.

2. Luxurious Design: The exterior styling was equally stunning as its powerful engine. Each chassis was customized by top coachbuilders like LeBaron and Murphy, ensuring that each model was both visually striking and highly exclusive.

3. Celebrities & Influential Owners: Notable figures like Greta Garbo, Howard Hughes, and Al Capone were attracted to the sophistication of Duesenbergs. Highlighting stories about these famous owners can make for engaging lessons for your students.

Impact on The Great Depression

While Duesenberg experienced immense success initially, the Great Depression took a heavy toll on the company. As people struggled to make ends meet, the high price tag for such an extravagant vehicle became a deterrent. Discussing these economic and social factors can help students fully understand the company’s decline and eventual sale to E.L. Cord.

Teaching Through Multimedia Resources

To make your lessons more engaging and accessible, consider incorporating multimedia resources:

1. Videos & Documentaries: There are informative documentaries and video clips about Duesenberg’s history that can provide a visual learning experience for your students.

2. Automobile Museums: Many museums house rare Duesenberg models, providing an excellent opportunity for field trips. Students can see these beautiful cars up close and gain a greater appreciation of their craftsmanship.

3. Interactive Activities: Organize group activities like designing their concept Duesenberg or building models to spark creativity in your students.


Teaching students about Duesenberg not only immerses them in a fascinating piece of American history but also offers valuable lessons about technological advancement, social change, and economic struggles. By introducing your students to this iconic brand, you afford them a unique window into the achievements of early automotive pioneers and the impact cars had on shaping societal norms in America and worldwide.

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