Vintage Motor Cars in Arizona

20 January 2006

Lot 191

1958 Duesenberg Kollins Le Grande

To be auctioned on Friday, January 20, 2006

Sold for $132,000

  • Chassis no. 2358

400bhp, 435 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder dual overhead cam four valve engine with three speed transmission, independent coil spring front suspension, live axle and leaf spring rear suspension and four-wheel hydraulic brakes with Bendix servo actuation. Wheelbase: 127"

Concepts. Dream cars. One-off prototypes. These are the legends of the modern collector’s garage. Some are more interesting than others…

The year is 1958, imagine this: Eight cylinders, twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, hemispherical combustion chambers and quadruple carburetors. A 4,000 pound, two passenger roadster with a six-foot long hood and sexy styling that combines the best Italian thinking with clear American heritage. State of the art modern suspension and giant finned aluminum brakes powered by Bendix servos.

Sound far-fetched? Not to Mike Kollins, it didn’t.

Kollins was a larger than life character – engineer, race car driver, PT boat instructor, historian, and a 50 year veteran technician at Indy. During his lifetime, he was a car guy’s car guy. His day job was as engineering technician and test driver for Packard in the 1950s, then with Chrysler.

Lots of guys dream about building their dream car. Some even start, most never finish. Not Mike Kollins. In just eight years, start to finish, he built the Kollins LeGrande. He had the resources of his friends at Packard and Chrysler to help, so the engineering was first rate – a stack of blueprints a foot thick provides evidence of that. With his personal skills, plus help from his friends in the world of race car fabrication, there was not a corner cut anywhere.

The result was good enough to earn him a feature article in the March 1959 issue of Motor Trend magazine – as well as the admiration of just about everyone who has ever seen the car.

The project began in 1951, on the same day that Mike Kollins became a father. He had been thinking about the project for a while, but that is when he decided to celebrate by buying a 1930 Duesenberg Model J. It was a Judkins coupe, and the body was pretty shabby, but that did not matter to Kollins – all he wanted was the drivetrain, instruments, and a few other bits.

He arranged for a special frame to be built by A. O. Smith. Based on the 1950 Packard convertible, it was boxed and reinforced, and had a custom K member added at the front. Standard Packard rear suspension, but with special softer rate springs, was fitted. The front suspension was stock Packard, but the brakes were heavy-duty units with Bendix servos to ensure first rate stopping power.

The original Model J engine was disassembled and bored out to 435 cubic inches. Bigger valves were fitted, and the compression ratio was increased to 7.5:1. Kollins had a special intake manifold fabricated to accommodate four side draft Carter carburetors: standard racing practice. Not only did it breathe better, but the profile was lower than stock. For the same reason, the distributor drive was moved from the camshaft to the generator drive, putting it down low beside the engine. Kollins puts output at 400bhp, which is not a big stretch considering Duesenberg rated the stock engine at either 265bhp or 320bhp when blown.

Later, Kollins added power steering. Today, the car is remarkably easy to drive. With modern suspension, power brakes, and power steering, it is certainly more comfortable than any of the original Duesenbergs. With 400bhp and a three-speed transmission, it is a powerful car, even by modern standards.

Of course, it is the body that attracts all the attention. Somehow, despite the overall length, the car manages to look as Kollins intended – like a sports car. The height of the engine dictated a raised center section to the hood, which was gracefully faired into the base of the windshield. It takes a second look to realize that the radiator shell is pure Duesenberg – with its egg crate center it looks vaguely Italian, Dual Ghia perhaps.

A stylish LeBaron sweep panel lends the car a modern day Duesenberg appearance, while Packard Carribean wheels and fender moldings reinforce the American influence while somehow looking completely at home. The top frame is an engineering work of art, designed by friends at Chrysler and custombuilt for the Kollins LeGrande.

An extensive clipping file attests to the interest that the car generates, even in the eyes of modern journalists. From that first article in Motor Trend to a recent column in Autoweek, there is something about the Kollins LeGrande that focuses the imagination.

Sadly, Mike Kollins is not with us any more. For generations to come, however, his Kollins LeGrande will continue to generate fascination and intrigue, and just maybe a little curiosity about the man behind it all.

“Please note that the Kollins LeGrande is titled as a 1930 Duesenberg.”


Please note that this vehicle is titled as a 1930.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alain Squindo

Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

+49 (0) 40 441 95 737

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

+1 212 894 1301
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Political Science. ... read more

Jack Boxstrom

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Shelby Myers literally grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to w... read more

Vinnie Mandzak

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more