Duesenberg J-142

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by Mecum | Glendale, California | March 16-19, 2022

Photo – Mecum

Great colors! In the sea of Model Js that have been featured on this site, sometimes it’s something as simple as a great paint job that will set one of them apart. It also doesn’t hurt that this car wears sporty convertible coupe coachwork by Murphy, the most prolific of Model J body constructors. In all, 60 were fitted with this style by Murphy.

The 6.9-liter Lycoming inline-eight developed 265 horsepower when new. No word if this engine is original to this chassis, but honestly who cares. The car is ACD Club certified, and its first owner is known.

This car previously resided in the Blackhawk Collection and the Imperial Palace Collection. It’s also an AACA and CCCA award winner. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,365,000.

Duesenberg J-235

1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

Here’s another Model J up for grabs in Monterey this year. This one is bodied by Murphy, the most prolific of all Model J coachbuilders. Their work resided on 140 of the ~481 Model Js built when new. Some of them have been rebodied or lost over the years, but this car retains its original body.

Only two Murphy Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupes features dual spare wheels mounted at the rear instead of on the front fenders. The car is powered by a 265-horsepower 6.9-liter inline-eight.

This car was delivered new to an heir of a department store fortune (were they all delivered to heirs of some fortune?) and remained with her until 1934. It was acquired by Duesenberg historian Randy Ema in 2016 and restored. No pre-sale estimate is available, but this is probably one of the more desirable Duesenberg body styles with one of the freshest restorations around. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $3,965,000.

Duesenberg J-143

1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, bodied more Duesenberg Model Js than any other coachbuilder, and their most popular body style was this, the convertible coupe. While only 25 were built with a convertible soft top, that was enough to make it the top seller among a very limited production run.

Power, of course, is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight good for 265 horsepower. This car is apparently one of a few Duesenbergs owned by gangster Jake the Barber. It was restored in 1995 and was purchased by the current owner, Keith Crain, about 16 years ago.

Crain is dumping a few classics at this sale, all at no reserve… which is interesting. You can see more about this car here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,132,500.

Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe

1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Marmon of Indianapolis introduced their Sixteen model in 1931. It was their top-of-the-line model that year, sitting alongside three different eight-cylinder models. In 1932 the Sixteen was offered alongside a single eight-cylinder model. 1933 was Marmon’s last and the brilliant Sixteen was the only model you could get.

There haven’t been many sixteen cylinder cars in history. Cadillac’s V-16 was the chief rival for this car, as were cars like the Duesenberg Model J. The engine here is an 8.0-liter V-16 that makes 200 horsepower. That kind of power aimed it squarely at the Model J. In 1931, a Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe would set you back $5,300. A Model J would’ve cost $9,500 as a bare chassis. The body was extra.

This particular car was purchased by Bill Harrah and restored in the 1960s. It’s next owner didn’t acquire the car until 1987 and the current owners bought it from him. It still sports Harrah’s restoration, a testament to the quality of work he pursued for his cars. Fewer than 400 Marmon Sixteens were built and eight with with this body style are known to exist. They do not change hands often. It should bring between $1,000,000 and $1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of the lots in this sale.

Update: Sold $962,000.

Duesenberg J-417

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017

Photo – Auctions America

Does this Duesenberg look a little like a… Cadillac? If you think so, there’s a good reason: this car was bodied by Fleetwood, as in the Fleetwood Metal Body Company. Founded in 1909, Fleetwood built bodies for many companies in its early days. But in 1925 it was acquired by Fisher and it became part of General Motors in 1931. A lot of Cadillacs bodied after 1931 wore Fleetwood bodies much like this one.

In fact, this is the second Fleetwood body that this car wore. The original owner swapped out the first body for this one, which he lifted from a Cadillac V-16. It wasn’t the only thing he changed, this chassis is currently on its third engine, J-417. The 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight that originally powered this chassis racked up 200,000 miles before being replaced. A second engine came and went as well. This car was used and enjoyed and didn’t find its second owner until the late 1950s.

Since then it has had a few other owners and was restored about 30 years ago. It’s a unique Model J with known history from new (the first owner ordered the car from Fred Duesenberg on the New York Auto Show stand in 1929). It should bring between $950,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $990,000.

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 J-414

1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

We should all know by now that cars don’t get better than Duesenberg Model Js. The Walter M. Murphy Company was the most prolific body supplier for the Model J and their Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe is one of the most popular body styles. But this is a little different.

This is a Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe. That means it is a convertible where the top is completely hidden when retracted and it has a pinched rear end like a boattail speedster. It even has a one-passenger rumble seat. It’s an awesome combination of design. And as this is a Model J, the 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight is standard.

This car originally was fitted with engine number J-178 but that engine was removed from the car at some point (likely in the 1940s as a source for parts). In the 1950s, the new owner acquired engine J-414 and put it in this car – that’s why the engine number is so high and the model year is so early. The body work had slight updates in the late-1930s to the “JN” style.

This car has been with its present owners for over 20 years. It is one of six Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupes ever built and one of four to actually still have their original coachwork. They never come up for sale and it should be pricey. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Sold $3,000,000.

Update: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2021, $5,725,000. Updated look below.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby;s

Duesenberg J-345

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 16-17, 2013

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ 345 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Auctions in Monterey spell “Duesenberg time!” This is a supercharged Model J – or, unofficially, an “SJ.” This, the opening paragraph, would also be a nice place to tell you that there is another subject of which I have a major interest. And that is: the early days of 20th Century organized crime. Why is that an important detail? Read on.

I’ll start by saying that this is not an original SJ – the supercharger was added in the late-1970s when it was restored. That said, the 6.9-liter straight eight makes 320 horsepower with the supercharger.

The car was purchased new by William Collins – who ran in the New York underworld and of whom I’ve heard nothing about. He was killed the day after he bought it. It was then bought by Mickey Duffy – one of the biggest bootleggers in Philadelphia. Fans of Boardwalk Empire: the character of Mickey Doyle is based on Mickey Duffy. From Duffy (who died in 1931), the car was next owned by Owney Madden – another famous bootlegger and owner of the Cotton Club.

He sold it in 1931 and that’s where this car’s history with the mob ends. It passed from owner to owner over the years – and in 1953 it was listed for sale for only $150! It was restored in the 1980s and has been carefully pampered since. Only 27 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupes were built by the prolific Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. This one should sell for between $2,000,000-$2,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in California.

Update: Did not sell (high bid of $1,850,000)

Duesenberg J-530

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Coupe by Walker-LaGrande

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 9, 2013

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ 530 Convertible Coupe by Walker LaGrande

This awesome – and awesome is the correct word – Duesenberg Model J is actually an SJ – it has a factory supercharged engine. But it is not the original engine for this car. Let me try and trace this out…

Engine J-530 has an origin I am unfamiliar with. This car is on chassis 2405, which originally had a very cool Rollston Town Car body on it. This incredible Walker-LaGrande Convertible Coupe body was originally on chassis 2563. The bell housing is from engine J-515, the engine that was originally with this body on 2563. So at some point in time, the Rollston Town Car body disappeared and this body was separated from its original chassis. The body and bell housing came with it and was put on chassis 2405. Engine J-530 was brought in to get the thing running. And remember: this is the supercharged 320 horsepower version.

The Walker-LaGrande body is one of three like it built and the only one with a supercharger on it. It’s actually one of only seven bodies built for Duesenbergs by Walker-LaGrande in total. This car was delivered new to a banker in Chicago before going through the hands of several well-known collectors. Among Model Js, this is one of the big ones. It should sell for between $3,500,000-$5,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $4,510,000.

Duesenberg J-429

1933 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by Gooding & Co. | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2013

1933 Duesenberg Model J-429 Disappearing-Top Converibly Coupe by Murphy

I’m not sure why, but every exterior photo available of this car was taken at ground level, so you really can’t see how grand the rear of this car is from above. How slick and sloped it is – no evidence of a top whatsoever. Which is why it’s called a “Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe.” It completely stows away under the bodywork.

Underneath are the standard Model J mechanicals – a 265 horsepower straight-eight Lycoming engine of 6.9-liters. And this is a numbers-matching car. It has the actual engine, chassis and bodywork that were all packaged together way back in 1933.

This was one of the last cars bodied by Murphy before they closed and they did it in high-style – the Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe being atop the list of desirable Duesenberg bodystyles for many people.  It was two Murphy employees (a designer and the general manager) who came up with the idea that the convertible top could be stowed away out of sight. What a fantastic idea it was – and the execution of it was perfect.

This car bounced around between owners early in its life before coming into the hands of the Bob Estes, who owned it for 40 years. It has had three owners since 2001 and was restored to perfection about 10 years ago. This is an exceptional car and it can be yours for between $2,000,000-$2,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding in Scottsdale.

Update: Sold $2,659,000.