Louis Chenot’s incredible 1/6 scale model 1932 Duesenberg SJ is not simply a model—it is a complete car in miniature. The Duesenberg features a running straight-eight, 32-valve engine, working transmission with reverse, battery-powered operating lights, and working top, door latches, and trunk support. It took about 20,000 hours to build over a ten-year period, with Lou making over 6,000 individual parts. A project like this requires the mastery of so many skills that it stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The Duesenberg display also includes some of Mr. Chenot’s tire molds, fender bucks, and spare internal engine parts. The finished Duesenberg was shown for a year and a half with the engine out so that Lou could run it on a test stand for show visitors. The first pop occurred on March 15, 2010, and can be seen in the video below. After a final run at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum (which can be viewed in the second video below), the engine was reinstalled in the chassis. For practical reasons, the engine cannot be run when mounted inside the car.
When the Duesenberg was being built, Lou could be found in his shop seven days a week, 8-10 hours per day, and looking forward to each and every one of them. Lou’s 1/6 scale model Duesenberg has received a wealth of praise over the years, including from comedian and noted car collector, Jay Leno, who Mr. Chenot was able to meet in person. The Duesenberg was also featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
In 2009, The Joe Martin Foundation selected Louis Chenot for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Then, in 2011 the foundation also recognized Mr. Chenot with the Craftsman of the Decade Award. He was presented with the awards at both the 2009 and 2011 North American Model Engineering Society Expos, respectively.
In December 2013, The Joe Martin Foundation had the singular good fortune of acquiring this world-class miniature automobile for permanent display at the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA. The public is invited and encouraged to come view this masterpiece in person.
First pop of the 1/6 scale Duesenberg engine:
Final run of the 1/6 scale Duesenberg engine: