Built for Lilly Pharmaceutical president Josiah Lilly, the coupe is the only Duesenberg ( # 2569 / J-554) built with aerodynamic bodywork (by coachbuilder A. H. Walker, Indianapolis), which designers were just beginning to experiment with in the 1930s. The Duesenberg cost $25,000 in 1934, making it the most expensive Duesenberg ever produced.
Lilly's demand for a modern-looking car led to the sleek roofline and V-shaped windshield, but also headlights that stick out of the front fenders like the eyes of an alien creature. The twin bumper beams were meant to look like biplane wings, and were allegedly more aerodynamic than standard bumpers.The unique body is mounted on a chassis that weighs 4,400 pounds by itself, giving the car a total weight of more than 6,000 pounds.
Lilly didn't like the car, and only kept it for one year. It was later sold to the mistress of a New York City politician, and then to a gas station owner who used it as a tow truck. It was then bought by a collector who conducted a low-quality restoration. Duesenberg expert Randy Ema tipped Leno Leno off to the car, kicking off after a chaotic purchase an professional restoration process.