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-119

1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Plymouth, Michigan | July 30, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This is one of the earliest Model J Duesenberg’s we’ve yet featured. The car that took the world by storm in late 1929 still gets people’s attention today. The Model J is undoubtedly one of America’s greatest automotive achievements.

This is a “Disappearing Top” Convertible Coupe, built by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. They built 60 Convertible Coupes, with only 25 of those being of the Disappearing Top variety. As a Model J, it is powered by a 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight engine.

This car was sold new with a Derham Sedan body attached to it. The original owner in Chicago sent it back to Duesenberg to have this body installed. This happened in 1934 and then it was resold. It has had many owners, but the current owner has had it for many years and used it often. In fact, he has driven this car round trip from Florida to Auburn, Indiana. The car’s second restoration was completed under his care and is being sold to benefit a liberal arts college. Read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,540,000.

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-330

1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Roadster by Murphy

Offered by Bonhams | Ebeltoft, Denmark | September 26, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

That’s quite the profile you see above. The term “Disappearing Top” was no misnomer – the top is completely hidden, resulting in a sleek rear end interrupted only by the rather functional trunk (when trunks were literal trunks).

This Model J has known ownership history back to brand new, when it was first bought by (or actually for, as it was a gift) the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. The car has had many owners since and in 1959 it sold for $6,000 (which was a lot then but seems awfully cheap today). This Duesey has been in the current collection for about a decade or so. It has never been restored.

The 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine is all original. This car looks restored and has been scored in the highest possible category of Duesenbergs. It’s one of, if not the, best, original survivor Model J in the world. It should sell for between $2,500,000-$3,100,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of this sale’s lineup.

Update: Sold $2,664,538.

Duesenberg J-395

1931 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Fort Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

Here is another Duesenberg from the Andrews Collection. This is also a highly desirable version. The Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe is a very attractive, very sporty body style and it was done by the Walter M. Murphy Company, the most prolific Duesenberg coachbuilder.

Unlike the car we featured a week ago, this is an un-supercharged Model J, meaning that the 6.9-liter straight-eight puts on “only” 265 horsepower. This car has an interesting history as, for a large portion of its life, it was in collection of Pacific Auto Rentals – who provided cars for movies. This car has a number of credits to its name, regularly showing up on screen between 1949 and the late 1970s.

In the 80s, it became part of the Imperial Palace Collection and was eventually acquired by Dean Kruse of Kruse Auctions. It has been in the Andrews Collection likely since 2008, when it sold at an RM sale for $2,640,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $3,520,000.

Duesenberg J-357

1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17, 2014

1930 Duesenberg Model J-357 Disappearing Top Convertible by Murphy

Photo – RM Auctions

Well this is a beautiful car. What is strange though is that this was the cheapest Model J by Murphy you could buy in 1930. It cost a wealthy lumber baron in West Virginia $13,500 that year. It’s a short-wheelbase chassis and uses Duesenberg’s signature Lycoming 6.9-liter straight-eight engine making 265 horsepower.

The original owner sold it in 1946 to a man named Melvin Clemans who regularly drove the car from West Virginia to Auburn, Indiana, for the annual ACD gathering. A friend of Clemans worked on the car for him and became the cars’ third owner in 1998.

Luckily, he never restored it. He rebuilt the mechanicals (and so did RM Restorations, more recently) but the body, paint, wood, interior, and chrome are all-original. This is a 30,000 mile car that has been driven a lot by every owner it’s ever had. It’s really nice to see a car like this still being driven hard and on the road to local car shows and not across putting greens at big, fancy concours.

This is 1 of about 25 “Disappearing Top Convertibles” built by the prolific Walter M. Murphy Company. It is arguably among the coolest as it remains as it did the day it left the showroom floor in Huntington, West Virginia, back in 1930. This car should bring between $2,000,000-$2,400,000. You can read more here and see more from RM here.

Update: Sold $2,200,000.

Update: Sold, Gooding & Company Amelia Island 2016, $2,640,000.

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-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.

Duesenberg J-108

1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 18, 2012

This early Model J was the first one ordered from Duesenberg as a chassis-only. It was purchased by the wife of a department store owner in Los Angeles who also owned a handful of Model A Duesenbergs. The chassis was shipped to California where it was delivered to the Walter M. Murphy Company in Pasadena to be bodied.

Murphy built the Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe to the owner’s specifications, including the white paint that covers both the body and the chassis (a somewhat angelic touch, I guess). A couple of owners later, the car was restored by Fran Roxas in 2010, having covered a mere 73 miles since.

Although the fact that we’re featuring a boatload of these cars, it should be remembered that some Model Js may never come up for sale. They have become museum pieces. Especially if they hold a certain distinction. This is a chance to own a very early Model J. A chance that doesn’t happen all too often. The price was estimated between $1,800,000-$2,400,000. The complete description is here.

Update: Sold $1,897,500.

Update: Sold, Gooding & Co., Monterey 2013, $2,365,000.