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Picturing the Past 139: Who owned this car?

Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2011, at 7:17 AM

This 1923 Duesenberg, with current owner Jan Sundegaard in the driver's seat, was once owned by a Shelbyville resident. Jan wants to know the car's past history.
A 1923 Duesenberg, which may have been used in the 1940s as a service vehicle for a Shelbyville gas station, is still around -- and its owner is seeking information on its history.

This car, now a true collector's item, belongs to Jan Sundegaard (that's him behind the wheel in the photo) of St. Paul, Minn.

Note the handwritten sign on the side: "Belmont Esso Servicenter" of Shelbyville, with the phone number 88.

A photo from 1947 shows the car being loaded onto a trailer in Shelbyville after purchase by an out-of-town buyer, Jan says.

Jan, who bought the car "about 30 years ago," said he was heading home from Florida on Interstate 24 last week when he saw a "Shelbyville" exit sign, remembered that "Shelbyville" was painted on his Duesenberg and drove over to check out its former hometown. He enjoyed a meal and dropped by the T-G office -- where we were able to point across the road to the Belmont Avenue-Depot Street intersection, where we think Belmont Esso Servicenter once stood. Several of us think we remember an Esso station, either in the old Sanders Radiator building where Wedge Market is now located, or in another building facing Belmont.

Anyone remember this car or know who would have owned it? I've got Jan's phone number and email address for anyone who comes up with answers.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog. Reader contributions are welcome.

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Don't have any information about the car, but there is a nice photo of the Belmont Esso Service Center on the Bedford County Tngenweb site. Go to that page, click on photos, then scroll down near the bottom of the page. The gentleman might like to add a copy of that photo to the "history" of his vehicle. Or maybe not.

-- Posted by ilikeoldsongs on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 9:16 AM

Approximately 2/3rds of the way down the photos page which "ilikeoldsongs" mentioned is the following statement "Several photos of Shelbyville provided by David Lacy. He reports the Esso station was operated for several years by his grandfather, John Edward Potts and his son Thomas Potts." Hopefully this is pertinent info.

-- Posted by flungpooh on Tue, Dec 13, 2011, at 10:37 AM

I got several phone calls over the past week indicating the car was owned by a Charles Jeffries. I was told that the car had been brought here from Indiana, California or from Europe after Jefferies' World War II service (three different versions of the story)and was maroon when first seen locally. Supposedly the car was run pretty hard and one caller remembered Jefferies spent a lot of time working on it at a Deery Street warehouse. It was already considered a collector's item at that time.

No new Picturing the Past this week (Dec. 20); my photos are on a temporarily out-of-order hard drive which will be repaired soon.

-- Posted by David Melson on Tue, Dec 20, 2011, at 3:05 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.