Duesenberg J-118

1929 Duesenberg Model J Sedan by Derham (and Bohman & Schwartz)

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | August 30-September 2, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Duesenberg Model J was introduced in 1929, and the car you see here is a very early example, carrying engine number J-118, or the 18th example built. But this is not how a normal 1929 Duesenberg would have looked.

Originally bodied as a Derham Sedan, this car was the first Duesenberg bodied by that firm. Sometime in the 1930s, the car ended up in the Santa Barbra Channel and was then sold to a new owner. As some of the car was ruined, he sent it to Bohman and Schwartz to update the bodywork and interior. So it now carries a mid-30s streamlined design.

The 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight is original, however. Part of the Blackhawk Collection in the mid-1990s when it was last repainted and freshened, this car has been the same collection for the better part of a decade and should bring between $750,000-$950,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $737,000.

Duesenberg J-386

1933 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Bohman & Schwartz

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

Doesn’t this just look like a classic Hollywood-owned car from the 1930s? It is. It was purchased new by Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler and she had a LeBaron Convertible Sedan body fitted to it. She didn’t own it long before it was acquired by producer/director Roy Del Ruth, who took it to Pasadena to have Bohman & Schwartz (the duo that sprang up when Murphy went out of business in 1932) put this awesome body on it.

This is the only Bohman & Schwartz-bodied Convertible Coupe on a LWB Model J chassis. From the side, the car looks gigantic. Most of the LWB cars had big Phaeton bodies on them… not the two-door convertible type. It’s incredibly imposing. It is powered by a 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine.

There are only six LWB Convertible Coupe Model Js in general, making this pretty much one of one (which most Model Js were anyway). Bohman & Schwartz only bodied 14 Duesenbergs and 10 of those 14 consisted of modifying existing coachwork. It has been part of the Harrah Collection, the Blackhawk Collection and has resided in the Imperial Palace Collection as well. It’s a fantastic example of 1930s automotive elegance and excellence. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $3,600,000.

Update: Not sold, Mecum Indianapolis 2017, high bid of $3,000,000.

Update: Sold, Mecum Monterey 2018, $3,850,000.

Duesenberg SJ-553

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Car by Bohman & Schwartz

Offered by RM Auctions | Ft. Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done a write-up on a Duesenberg. This is an SJ, a factory supercharged example. What’s even better is that it has it’s original chassis, engine and body – there aren’t many SJs (or any Duesenbergs) that can say that.

The SJ was a supercharged version of the standard 6.9-liter straight-eight that pumps out a still-impressive 320 horsepower. The history of this car is interesting: it was a bare chassis sitting in a Duesenberg warehouse after the great clamor for these cars had passed. Designer Herb Newport of Bohman & Schwartz penned this body and the car was to be built for Mae West, who bought another Model J before this one was done.

Instead, this car was sold to Ethel Mars, of the Mars Candy Company. She was chauffeured around Chicago in this car for years. The car then had a string of Chicago-area owners into the 1960s before Bill Harrah got his hands on it. When his collection was dispersed, this car had a few more owners before RM sold it in 2007 for $4.4 million.

So how rare is this combo? Well, it’s a one-of-one design and it’s one of only 36 factory supercharged Model Js built (less than 30 remain). Only 10 have one-off bodies on an original SJ chassis. Bohman & Schwartz only bodied nine Duesenbergs and five of those were rebodies – making this one of four Bohman & Schwartz originals.

It has known ownership history since new and could top $5 million. Check out more here and see more from The Andrews Collection here.

Update: Sold $3,630,000.

Duesenberg JN-500

1935 Duesenberg Model JN LWB Berline by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)

Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2013

1935 Duesenberg Model JN (500) LWB Berline by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)

This Duesenberg is a Model JN – that is, it is one of 10 Rollston-bodied cars produced in 1935 with modern updates to the front of the car along with smaller wheels. They were among the last Duesenberg’s built at a time when the company was desperately trying to stay afloat and keep its aging flagship car relevant.

As was the case with JNs, this one came equipped with Rollston bodywork. This chassis and body originally had engine J-559 underhood, but that was replaced in the 1950s when its owner consolidated two different Duesenbergs. This car also received the larger Model J wheels at that time. The engine was unchanged – a 6.9-liter straight eight making 265 horsepower.

This car was delivered new to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the famous Hollywood tap-dancer who appeared alongside Will Rogers and Shirley Temple onscreen. When he took the car to California, he sent it to Bohman & Schwartz for some updates (only a year after purchase). When he passed, the car bounced between owners – its engine being swapped out along the way. It was restored in 1970 and has been maintained since, which is kind of remarkable considering its fairly nice condition and the fact it has covered more than 100,000 miles in its well-used life. It should sell for between $500,000-$700,000. You can read more about it here and check out the rest of Gooding’s auction lineup here.

Update: Sold $594,000.

Duesenberg JN-560

1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)

Offered by Gooding & Company | Monterey, California | August 19, 2012

You might be saying, “Hey, the Pebble Beach sales have already concluded, why are you still featuring cars from them?” Well, that’s because there were so many great cars that I just went ahead and skipped all of the Duesenbergs (except for the one from Mecum). I figured we could feature them post-auction as there is a short lull before any other big sale. Turns out, that lull isn’t long enough because there were no less than seven of these beautiful Dueseys for sale in Monterey. So saddle up, because for the next week or so it’s nothing but Model Js.

This might be the most desirable Duesenberg of all during the Monterey weekend. The Model J was introduced in 1929 (and it was expensive) and almost immediately, the selection of people who could afford such a car dwindled rapidly. The SJ was introduced in 1932 with some more power. By 1935, Duesenberg was struggling mightily. They updated the Model J to JN specification, which was more modern looking. All had Rollston bodies and only 10 were built.

The engine remained the same 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-8 of the cars before it. Some things did change, like the wheels – they were smaller. The cars had sleeker bodies with skirted fenders and new taillight designs. The designs – especially this one – embraced the Art Deco look better than their predecessors.

This car was purchased new by Clark Gable. The full lot description includes the great story of him and this car, it’s worth a read but I won’t just copy it here. Originally a Rollston Convertible Coupe, Gable took the car to Bohman & Schwartz who updated it to the much more dramatic car you see here, the design being done with Gable’s input. In the late 1940s, after the death of Carole Lombard, Gable’s wife, he sold the car.

It changed hands numerous times, spending about 10 years in the Blackhawk Collection until 2006, when the current owner bought it and restored it to how you see it now – that is, how it was when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard cruised the streets of Beverly Hills with it in the 1930s. It originally had engine J-560 in it, but in the 1950s engine J-521 was installed. It currently has the 560 number on it, but could probably best be described as having bits of both.

The is one hell of a car with one hell of a history. The fact that Gooding lists the estimate as “available upon request” when they feel quite comfortable quoting prices up to $10 million for other cars, means this car is going to bring a ton of money. For the complete description (including the very narrative-like story of Gable and Lombard’s courtship), click here.

Update: Not sold.