The Duesenberg marque is synonymous with old-school automotive glamour. Daddy Warbucks rode around in a chauffeur-driven Duesenberg; you’ll see them in black-and-white movies, with Myrna Loy or Jean Harlow relaxing into their leather seats. Have you ever heard someone say “It’s a doozy”? Now you know–the origin of the expression is, indeed, the astonishing Duesenberg luxury car.
So I was a bit surprised to get an email about the Duesenberg Torpedo, a new custom car slated for production this fall. The last Duesie (which was quite a doozy) shipped in 1937. What’s the story?
It turns out that a company called Duesenberg Custom Coach, Inc., is reviving the Duesenberg brand. They’re working with designers to produce retro-glam versions of the original motorcyle and estate car; the Torpedo, though, is a new design that combines the look of a sleek ’30s speedster with some twenty-first-century green engineering.
Designer Jeff Teague was inspired by the Duesies of the 1930s; you can see that in the curve of the front end, and in the grille styling. But the fabrication of this car is all 2007; carbon fiber makes it light and sleek.
The car’s built on the Mercedes CL500 platform, and its first incarnations will be powered by a Mercedes V12 engine. Which makes one wonder, “Why does it need to be so light?”
The answer is that Duesenberg Custom Coach plans to equip future models with high-tech, flexi-fuel engines. Apparently, they’ve been in discussion with Eddie Paul and his E.P. Industries wizards: the idea of something as tasty as this Duesenberg Torpedo coupled with Eddie Paul’s CEM, which is projected to deliver 300 horsepower at 70 miles per gallon, is pretty dazzling.
Not that one would need this level of design excellence and luxury fabrication to make a car popular if it had a CEM under the hood. This new powerplant technology has the potential to transform the marketplace (and the roadways!) if it can be harnessed successfully for automotive production.
Eddie Paul, the visionary behind the CEM, has been a fixture on the Hollywood scene for years, building stunt vehicles for films including The Fast and the Furious. He’s not publicity-shy: in fact, he webcasts his shop at DeadlineTV.net, and you’ll see him as a guest expert on the Learning Channel.
His CEM, though, could make him a household name. He’s been working on the air pump/engine for 20 years; first patented in 1993, the engine’s now used to power firefighting equipment and in the aeronautics industry. Paul’s dream is to create a CEM (Cylindrical Energy Module) designed for mass automotive production. When (or if) he succeeds, the impact can only be imagined. With a projected yield of 2 horsepower per pound, the air-cooled, self-lubricating CEM would deliver the same power as a conventional engine, but at one-sixth the weight and half the cost.
In times like these, when the American automotive industry is in crisis and the Big Three are seemingly flailing for ideas, it’s reassuring to see smaller businesses looking to the past and future for distinctive, innovative ideas. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the Duesenberg or the CEM, but it’s awfully good to see people thinking outside the box for a change!