'Duesy' proving a real doozy for car enthusiasts

Sydney-based couples Jennifer Scott and Chris Langton (front) and Cameron Langton and Chloe Stevens travelled from Australia to see this rare 1934 Model J Duesenberg car, which went on display at the Warbirds and Wheels museum at Wanaka Airport earlier this month. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Sydney-based couples Jennifer Scott and Chris Langton (front) and Cameron Langton and Chloe Stevens travelled from Australia to see this rare 1934 Model J Duesenberg car, which went on display at the Warbirds and Wheels museum at Wanaka Airport earlier this month. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
A group of Sydney-based car enthusiasts who travelled to Wanaka to see a rare Duesenberg car at Wanaka's Warbirds and Wheels visitor attraction yesterday said it was well worth the trip.

Getting the opportunity to sit inside the vehicle for an Otago Daily Times photograph made it even more memorable.

''Sitting in that was a privilege,'' Cameron Langton said, after his up-close appraisal of the 1934 Model J Duesenberg, which went on display earlier this month at the Warbirds and Wheels museum, at Wanaka Airport.

''It's just pristine. It's probably better than it was.''

It was an exciting day for Mr Langton, who moments before his Duesenberg viewing proposed to his partner Chloe Stevens (she said yes). The couple were at the museum with Mr Langton's brother Chris and his fiancee Jennifer Scott, also of Sydney; the siblings' father Tim Langton, of Auckland, and other Wanaka-based relatives.

The brothers closely followed news of the Duesenberg's restoration, having inherited their love of cars from their father - a former mechanic, car salesman and classic car collector.

The museum's Duesenberg is one of only a handful of the cars outside the United States and the only one in the southern hemisphere. It has been attracting attention from around the globe.

''Since the car was publicly unveiled we have had lots of visitors saying they have come specifically to see the Duesy,'' Warbirds and Wheels manager Ed Taylor said.

''We had one guy who rang from Turangi in the North Island to say he had been waiting more than 50 years to see a Duesenberg. He's now organising a trip to Wanaka to see the car.''

Calls had also been fielded from Australia and the United States.

''For classic car enthusiasts, the Duesenberg Model J is probably the finest car to be made in the United States and to see one in showroom condition in little old Wanaka is a real treat,'' Mr Taylor said.

Warbirds and Wheels director Robert Duncan has declined to say how much the car cost. A similar model sold at auction this year for $US10.34 million.