Duesenberg J-164

1931 Duesenberg Model J Arlington Sedan by Derham

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | September 3, 2022

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

There have been some great Duesenberg sedans coming out of the woodwork this year. This four-door sedan features blind rear quarters (no rearward side windows), which was sometimes called a Club Sedan. Derham called theirs the “Arlington,” which sounds much more dignified.

Five Derham Arlington sedans were built, four of them on the short-wheelbase Model J chassis like this one. And power came from a 6.9-liter inline-eight rated at 265 horsepower. This one was purchased new by a Peruvian singer who likely kept it at his New York home before taking it to other countries. It later spent time under ownership in Paris and Cairo. Exotic.

The car came back to the U.S. in 1957. It has not been restored but was apparently repainted at least once, though it isn’t made all that clear in the catalog when that happened. No estimate is available, but you can read more here.

Update: Sold $857,500.

Continental Mark II Convertible

1956 Continental Mark II Convertible by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

When Lincoln (well, Ford), spun Continental off as a separate marque for 1956, the new company’s goal was to build the best car in America. And they did. The price reflected it too as the two-door Mark II cost $10,000 when new. In 1956. Which made it the most expensive American car you could get at that point.

Because they were so expensive, the product line made Ford rethink the whole thing pretty quickly. The model was only around for two years, with a combined production of just 3,005 units. And only one of those was a convertible. This one.

Ford sent this Mark II to Derham in Pennsylvania to figure out how to make a drop-top out of the car, as the range was supposed to expand to other body styles. But never did, which is a shame as this car looks GREAT with the top down.

After the show circuit, it became the personal car of Martha Firestone-Ford, wife of Continental head William Clay Ford. Before she received it, the mechanicals were updated to 1957-spec. The unrestored-but-repainted car is powered by a 300-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8.

Post-Ford ownership included a brief stint with a Ford employee before remaining with one family for over 60 years. It’s now offered without reserve. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $296,500.

Duesenberg J-448

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 27, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

It is known that eight Derham Toursters were built on the Duesenberg Model J chassis. This is the fourth that we have featured in the last decade. There have been three other Tourster-style rebodies up for sale in that time as well. So with this car coming to market, you could have had eight in your stable.

The Model J is powered by a 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter inline-eight. The Derham coachwork was styled by Gordon Buehrig, who described it as his favorite Model J. It’s essentially a five-passenger touring car with rear suicide doors and a secondary roll-down windscreen for the rear-seat passengers.

These are sought after cars, even among the Model J crowd. This one was once owned by Andy Granatelli and was restored by RM. It’s been in a private collection for the last 20 years. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $3,415,000.

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.

Update: Sold, Worldwide Auctioneers, Scottsdale 2022, $2,260,000.

Duesenberg J-475

1931 Duesenberg Model J SWB Sport Convertible Sedan by Derham

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Pacific Grove, California | August 23, 2018

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

I’ve said many times before that the Model J is one of the best cars ever built. Want proof? Look at auction catalogs surrounding big auction weekends (like Monterey/Pebble Beach) and what is the one, classic American car that every auction house has? A Model J. They don’t all have Pierce-Arrows, they don’t all have Cadillac V-16s. But they all have a Model J. Or two. This year Worldwide Auctioneers has two. Gooding & Company has two. Mecum has two. They all come out of the woodwork this time of year.

This Model J has engine number 475 and that engine is a 6.9-liter straight-eight developing a mighty 265 horsepower. It’s a four-door Convertible Sedan but it’s also on the “short” Model J wheelbase (still a massive 11, almost 12, feet). Derham built five examples of their Sport Convertible Sedan, and this is one of three that remain.

This car has known ownership history from new and the current owner acquired J-475 in 1974 as what was essentially a project car. It was restored during the mid-1980s and has been on museum duty for the last two years. It’s been serviced and freshened since and can now be yours. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,320,000.

Duesenberg J-488

1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan by Derham

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 25, 2018

Photo – Gooding & Company

This black Model J is one of five such units produced by the Derham Body Company of Philadelphia. Derham traced their roots back to Joseph Derham’s 1887 carriage factory and later produced bodies for the likes of Stutz, Pierce-Arrow, Cadillac, Duesenberg, and more.

This is a Duesenberg Model J – one of the greatest cars ever built. This particular car is supercharged, and thus is a retroactive “Model SJ.” But the supercharger isn’t original. When supercharged, the 6.9-liter straight-eight makes 320 horsepower. This car began life as a factory demonstrator and was later owned by Jean Harlow’s 1930s husband as well as Buster Keaton’s son, James Talmadge.

At some point early in this car’s life, parts of the engine were exchanged with the factory-supercharged J-208. When the current owner acquired the car in 1977, he set about making it whole again. He located J-208 and swapped the parts back, making both cars better for it. He later sourced a supercharger, taking J-488 back to how it would’ve been set up in the late-1930s.

And now here it is, wonderfully restored and correct – on sale for the first time in 41 years. It should bring between $1,750,000-$2,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Duesenberg J-451

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 19-20, 2016

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Derham Tourster is one of a few body styles of the Model J Duesenberg that are highly sought after (as if there is a Duesenberg that isn’t). Only eight were built originally and over the past few years, two others have come up for auction (with a further two that sported recreated Tourster bodies also coming up for sale).

The great thing about the Tourster is that its second windshield actually rolls up and down instead of flipping up and out of the way like most Dual Cowl Phaetons. Derham, of Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was the sole constructor of this beautiful body. The engine underneath is the standard Model J 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower.

This car was sold new to Chicago, where it remained with a variety of owners until departing the city in 1948. It has had even more owners since, with the current owner residing overseas. The restoration is older but it shows well and the color combination is brilliant. The average price for the last two Toursters to have sold is about a million dollars, so look for a similar amount here. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,320,000.

Cadillac Town Car

1942 Cadillac Series 60 Special Town Car by Derham

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

At first glance, this car screams “owned by the head of a movie studio but never actually driven by that person.” Taking a step back and thinking about the larger story of the time, we see that America had just been attacked and that this was one of the final new cars built by Detroit prior to the war.

In fact, this car is one of just two Derham-bodied Town Cars on Cadillac’s Series 60 Special chassis for 1942. The engine is a 150 horsepower 5.7-liter V-8. The car started life as a Series 60 Special Imperial Sedan (which was a mid-range Caddy for ’42) and then it was shipped to Derham in Pennsylvania to be converted to this chauffeur’s machine you see here.

It was delivered new to someone in New York and the present owner acquired it in 1974 and restored it. It’s a fairly unique machine in that most Cadillacs were bodied in-house by this point – and most Post-War Cadillacs were too, making this the last of its kind. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $79,750.

Duesenberg J-444

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

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

1931 Duesenberg Model J-444 Tourster by Derham

This is the second Derham Tourster (of the eight originally built) to be offered at an RM auction in 2013. The other one, J-423, sold for $1.32 million. That one had kind of an interesting history, being owned by an Italian Count and all. This one is slightly more interesting.

J-444 was delivered new to film comedian Joe E. Brown, who was known for his comedic roles in the 1930s-1950s (and he was the rich gentleman who hilariously courted Jack Lemmon (in drag) in the near-perfect film Some Like It Hot. He delivered the classic line “Well, nobody’s perfect”). By the time World War II came around, the car was passed around before it came into the hands of a Mr. Howard Hughes.

Hughes liked powerful things and the Duesenberg Model J fit that bill. A 265 horsepower straight-eight engine was about as good as you were going to do in the day. He, apparently, wasn’t so concerned with the gorgeous Derham Tourster body on the car – as he cut the rear half of the car off and used the car to tow gliders up and down a runway – aircraft, after all, were his business.

The car was later in the Otis Chandler collection and then the John McMullen collection and a replica of its original body was fitted at some point. This is a real Derham Tourster, but it just doesn’t have the original Derham Tourster body it came with. It is remarkable to look at nonetheless. John O’Quinn acquired it after that.

This car has been in the hands of some seriously famous people and well-respected car collectors who obviously didn’t let its “replica” body scare them (as it shouldn’t). This car sold in 2007 for $1.35 million. It won’t bring less than that this time around but that is, apparently, the going rate for a Derham Tourster today. Click here for more info and here for more from RM at Amelia Island.

Update: Sold $825,000.

Duesenberg J-423

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

Offered by RM Auctions | Phoenix, Arizona | January 18, 2013

1931 Duesenberg Model J-423 Tourster by Derham

It’s been a little while since we’ve featured a Model J. But luckily, the sales in Arizona are upon us and these sales are one of three or four places annually awash in high dollar cars like this. It’s a normal Model J with the big straight-eight engine making 265 horsepower.

The car wears a “Tourster” body from Derham – making it one of only eight Derham Toursters. Also cool is the fact that this is the original engine and chassis combination – a feat of which many Duesenberg’s cannot boast. Derham was founded in 1887 in Rosemont, Pennsylvania as a carriage builder. Like many, they made the jump to automobiles, becoming the longest-lasting coachbuilder in America – the only “classic-era” company to make it through the Depression.

This car was, for a time, owned by an Italian Count and located in Italy. It has since, obviously, come back to the United States where it will sell for somewhere around $1 million (give or take a few $100,000). For more information, click here. For more from RM in Arizona, click here.

Update: Sold $1,320,000.

Update: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2023, $1,710,000.