Harry A. Miller's
Miller-Burden rendering by Josh Shaw © 2019
Back in the days of old, racing greats like Bugatti, Peugot, and Duesenburg competed amongst one another for the coveted reputation of "Superior Performance" on the race track. However, these car manufacturers all had one thing in common -- sell road bearing cars to fund the manufacturers racing appetites.
Fast forward to 1929, Duesenberg introduces to the world what would become the most coveted line of road worthy vehicles to ever grace the pavement, the Model J. So popular that just about every A-list american celebrity in the late 20s and 30s had to own one, and so highly regarded by every avid automobile collector of the modern age. With every build came a superior chassis and drivetrain, and many of them fitted with meticulously crafted coaches, tailored to the persona of each buyer. This platform of car was more than a success for the Duesenberg Motors Company, and it guranteed the position for Duesenberg's rightful place in automotive history.
Harry Miller, a speratic and enigmatic thinktank, with a sensatioable craving for continued American racing success, needed to join the likes of Bugatti, Peugot, and Duesenberhg to further fuel his racing success. By 1931, it is safe to say Miller and Duesenberg were well aware of one another's presence in the automotive industry and their success. Miller and company, with their triumphent and continuous success at the American board tracks, and Duesenberg, with the pinnacle of luxury filling the public roads of America with awe and astonishment.
Enter William A. M. Burden, wallstreet millionaire and well known investor with passion and acknowledgement of incredible technology being constructed by the staff at Harry A. Miller, Inc. Burden seeks out Miller's outfit to dream-up and raise a diabolical piece of machinery, equipped with 16 supercharged cylinders. This 16 cylinder 'Roots" supercharged engine within an aluminum cradle to contain the raw power, and therein transferred to the rear axle and the front, via a transfer case and the successful Miller-Cord "Front Drive" technology. With all of this in mind, the first conception of Harry Miller's "Pleasure Line" was a go.
While the idea -- "sell a lap of luxurious road worthy cruisers to fund the racing specticle" -- was theoretically bulletproof in Miller's head, history proves it was too little, too late. By 1931, due to Miller's inadequacy, with failure to responsibly fund business ventures to completion, and attempting a quick fix by means of quick builds to pay for the previous build, this eventually caught up to Miller and sent him straight into bankruptcy. The once enigmatic millionaire was now offically penniless.
In the midst of the Great Depression, the unfinished 1932 Miller-Burden Car was left to the hands of the great Fred Offenhauser and Miller's remaining staff. Under the direction of Offenhauser, the project finally made great progress with design changes to effectively finish the long overdue, over-billed road warrior. The car received an all-black treatment to keep the further project costs to a minimum, steering away from the polished and chrome plated appearance originally intended.
Once the Miller-Burden V16 was road bound, Burden pulled out all of the stops with enjoying his new high-performance roadster. However, according to ..... "the car was unstable at high speeds of up to 100mph" and Burden ultimately loathed the car due to it's impracticality, instability at high speeds, and overall price he paid. The car was destined to be resold and changed hands within the year.
The Miller-Burden V16 was then purchased with the intent of racing, since it was a thoroughbred Harry A. Miller, Inc. engine after all. The motor was reconfigured for a more racing suitable application, ditching the roots styled supercharger driven at the crank, and ran 4 standard carbs atop this massive motor for more efficient fuel delivery. The car looked mean and the car was heavy.
The Pleasure Line Conception
--It is safe to assume that perhaps Miller found a probable answer to his expensive desire for continued racing dominance.
We have begun production of the hand crafted, hand built, made in America, Harry A. Miller Pleasure Line continuation cars. These custom coaches represent the pinnacle of automotive technology in the early 1930's. Each coach is tailored to each customer, with the embodiment and spirit of Miller and his daft pursuit of perfection and elegance.
With these vehicles roaring to life, they benefit from the wonderful modern age technological benefits. Refined metallurgy for the purest forms of materials, machining bounds that are capable of maintaining tolerances like never before, and the will to pursue these dream coaches with the blood, sweat, tears, and the care these superior automobiles deserve.
Built by our expert team of craftsmen and artisans, each coach retains the lifelong pursuit of hand-made passion through engineering and dedicated research to get the build done right, and historically match Harry Miller's pinnacle performance from 1932.
For inquiries, please contact
After the introduction of Harry A. Miller and William A. M. Burden, came the idea to build one of the most technologically superior cars of the era. With the Pleasure Line intentions fresh in mind, Miller now had the opportunity to build a front-runner for his road-bearing line.
Development of the Miller-Burden Pleasure Car came soon after the gentlemen settled on a concept. Of these concepts, Leo Goossen had drawn out several different layouts of the proposed Pleasure Car. Amongst these were the closed-cabin speedster, the dual-cowl phaeton, and shorter wheelbase V8 version of what became the Miller-Burden Pleasure Car. The finalized concept called for beautifully swept clam shell fenders, chromium plated hardware throughout, and a chassis finished in a similar gleaming fashion. The car had every intentions of becoming an absolute beauty queen of automobiles.
The drivetrain consisted of Miller's 303 cubic inch V16, adorned with a crank driven roots-styled supercharger. Claimed to generate around 500bhp, this combo would then send power to a transfer case, where driveshafts headed to the front and rear of the car powered Miller's coveted Front Drive and rear drive. This all-wheel drive configuration was unheard of for the early 1930s, however that was Harry's plan all along -- to wow the public with this street driven goliath.
Above, the original completed Burden Car with Burden's brother in the driver seat
Above, the original Burden chassis in development at the Harry A. Miller, Inc plant in Los Angeles, CA - circa 1931
Above, the original Miller-Burden 303ci V16 engine in development. Shown is the Supercharger, dual-Bosche magnetos, and intricate fuel rails - Harry A. Miller, Inc plant. Los Angeles, CA. 1931
Above, rear view of the original Miller-Burden engine, supercharger, transmission, shifter, parking brake, and transfer case. - Harry A. Miller, Inc plant. Los Angeles, CA. 1931
The quest to build this dream machine ultimately faced many set backs. The car took much longer than originally anticipated, with many design changes along the way to produce a functioning car that was soon well above the original budget. After Harry A. Miller went bankrupt in 1931, the project fell into the hands of Miller's lead machinist Fred Offenhauser.
As a no-nonsense, effective builder, Fred and the rest of the talented Harry A. Miller Inc. team finished the Pleasure Car with cycle fenders in front and rear, mounted directly to the brake plates, and the car received an all-painted black treatment to keep costs to a minimum. The car could finally be delivered to the customer.
Once Burden took ownership of the Pleasure Car, stories claimed immediate dis satisfactory as the anticipation for such a superior road machine grew sour with long lead times and an overall cost well exceeding the original agreed price of $35,000. It has been rumored that at speeds over 100mph the car would shake as Burden had high hopes for his 'immaculate' conception and Goossen later described the motor to have never ran well, and never achieving it's 500bhp hype.
As fate would have it, Burden sold the car within the year, heading to a prospective buyer at a steal. Years later, representatives on behalf of Harry A. Miller Inc. offered to buy the car, solely for it's 303 cubic inch V16. After the engine was divorced from the chassis and body, the combination was never seen again, and the original Pleasure Car body and chassis was lost to time.
Miller-Burden Build Progress
The 1932 Miller-Burden Pleasure Car Build Gallery - Last updated 5/05/2020