1931 Duesenberg That Survived WWII Hidden Under Haystacks Is Headed to Auction
After its American owner fled Europe, the car was stashed in an Italian barn for the duration of the war.
A 1931 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo won Best of Show at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Duesenbergs actually took home several awards that day, making it the standout brand of the renowned event. This year there's a Duesenberg that's likely going to make headlines again, though this time because of its incredible backstory. That's because this 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster headed for the Pebble Beach RM Sotheby's auction managed to survive World War II.
The stunning metallic two-tone green Duesenberg originally belonged to Philadelphia playboy socialite Butler Hallahan, who inherited a fortune from his parents. With his fortune, he would make regular trips between Manhattan and Europe and bring his Duesenberg along with him. During a trip to Italy in 1939, Hallahan had to quickly flee Europe back to the United States as the war was breaking out and he had to leave the Duesenberg behind.
An anonymous Italian hid Hallahan's Duesenberg in a barn, under hay stacks, to keep it hidden from anyone who might want to lay claim to it. It sat there for the entirety of the war until Italian Brigadier General Niblo found it. After a turn of events, it was then sold by American Captain R.W. Schreck to a Milanese enthusiast, Dore Leto di Priolo in 1946.
It finally returned to America in 1968, when it was sold to Anthony D. “Tony” Pascucci in Connecticut. Pascucci was a car collector and had a fascination with Duesenbergs, so he had the Model J restored and repainted by Ted Billing in Massachusetts, who specialized in restoring old Duesenbergs.
After 45 years, Pascucci finally sold the Model J to Terence E. Adderley, who's had it since 2013. While it isn't in absolutely perfect condition, as there are some paint imperfections, it's mechanically excellent and still a complete numbers-matching car. The coachbuilt body by Derham is original, as is the engine and even its crankshaft. This Model J that's headed to Monterey is still very much the car that survived WWII under a haystack in Italy.
It's also one of the only Derham-bodied Duesenberg Model Js you'll ever see at auction. Only eight were ever made, two are in museums, and the other five are in permanent collections. However, when the other owners see how much this fetches at auction, those other five might start coming out of their garages.
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