Duesenberg J-474

1932 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 18, 2023

Photo – Bonhams

This is a “bitsa” Duesenberg. It’s got bits of this and that Model J assembled to form a complete car. This is the case with seemingly every pre-war Bugatti, and more than a few Model Js have swapped engines and/or bodies.

So what do we have here? First, a real Model J chassis (2481) that was pulled out of one of Karl Kleve’s hoards. It was originally bodied as a Willoughby limousine. It also has engine J-474 in it, and that’s what really matters (even though it did not come from chassis 2481). Weirdly, they’ve coupled that 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter inline-eight with a Tremec six-speed manual transmission.

The body is a recreation. There’s something about dual-cowl coachwork that is hard to really nail, and every such recreation looks slightly… off. Maybe it’s the long wheelbase coupled with too-small-looking wire wheels. Or maybe it’s just the photos. Anyway, this is said to be a $1.8 million build, and it now has an estimate of $1,250,000-$1,500,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $1,127,000.

2 thoughts on “Duesenberg J-474

  1. First off, I personally helped restore this car & we did what the customer asked of us. He actually had the body elongated because he wanted to add a 3rd row seat. We advised against doing this as the rear cowl would cause whomever was sitting in the middle row to have their necks against the cowl lid if a 3rd row seat was installed. He went forward with that modification against our professional advice, which is why this car looks the way it does. And after having that modification completed, realized that in fact we were correct & he ditched moving forward with completing the 3rd row seat. It had nothing to do with “dual cowl coach work” being “hard to nail” & everything to do with what the customer wanted. He didn’t have this car built to flip it at auction. And that’s also the reason he chose the Tremec tranny. He had this car built to drive. He wanted more gears for easier highway driving & touring. As far as we are aware, we were the 2nd to do this with a Duesenberg & have since received a few calls from Duesenberg owners also looking for information about how we matched up the Tremec to the Duesenberg Lycoming straight 8 without any permanent modifications, meaning if someone else wanted to remove the Tremec & install an original Duesenberg transmission, it can be accomplished easily. The customer unfortunately passed away before ever getting to see the restoration completed & thus the reason it just sold at auction. I just feel your assumptions about this car, & other dual cowl cars, is just that…..assumptions. Have you ever actually worked in the antique & classic car restoration business? Do you actually understand the immense undertaking it is to restore a Duesenberg J to a 100-point car? Do you even know where to look for parts? I’m not even 40 years old & I’ve been working in the restoration business for 3/4 of my life. I have more restoration experience than many others, being lucky enough to grow up in the industry. I have put my blood, sweat, & tears into about a dozen complete body-off restorations in that time. I’d bet you haven’t even sat in as many cars as I’ve driven in my short time on this earth. And I’d also bet you wouldn’t look too fantastic if someone stretched you out 3 feet beyond your original format either!!

    • Whoa! Take a breath.

      A few points here:
      1. The Tremec swap is actually pretty great. Sorry to hear the owner passed away.
      2. So the body WAS elongated? Glad to know I wasn’t wrong in stating that it looked a bit “off”. By the way, I never said it was “bad”. But you’ve confirmed that it isn’t the standard Dual-Cowl build.
      3. The personal attacks are a bit unnecessary. Your company, Byard Libbey’s Classic Car Restoration Center, sounds VERY pleasant to deal with. Do they verbally abuse their customers or just people who look at their work?
      4. “I’d bet you haven’t even sat in as many cars as I’ve driven in my short time on this earth.” Okay?
      5. Glad to hear that you’ve been restoring 100-point cars since you were 10 years old.

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