Duesenberg J-121

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Miami, Florida | March 2, 2024

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

There are not many cars better than a sweep-panel dual-cowl phaeton. This one carries a relatively low engine number and was delivered new to Philip K. Wrigley, he of gum fame. It was originally delivered with Murphy convertible coupe coachwork, to which Mr. Wrigley added over 10,000 miles before deciding he wanted a dual-cowl phaeton.

But not just any such phaeton, he wanted the specific body on a family friend’s Duesenberg. But he didn’t want their car. So a body swap was arranged. Oh to be rich during the Great Depression. This chassis retains its original 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter inline-eight.

The Wrigleys sold it back to Duesenberg in 1936. The current restoration was completed in 2004, and it’s finished in all black, which is an interesting choice (but apparently the original look). It has an estimate of $2,650,000-$2,850,000. More info can be found here.

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.

Lincoln KB by Dietrich

1933 Lincoln Model KB Dual Cowl Phaeton by Dietrich

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 3, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

Before the Continental arrived, Lincoln’s K series of cars was the best thing they offered. The first K arrived in 1931, and 12-cylinder cars followed in ’32. The Model KB was sold in 1932 through 1934. A variety of factory body styles were offered along with standard coachbuilt styles from the likes of LeBaron, Willoughby, Brunn, Judkins, and Dietrich.

This Dietrich-bodied dual cowl phaeton is one of nine produced for the model year, and it’s a pretty car, especially in these colors. When new, the car would’ve cost $4,200. Which was not cheap. The 6.8-liter V12 was rated at 220 horsepower, which put it near the top of American cars of its day.

It’s an older restoration and is a CCCA Full Classic. This one comes from long-term ownership. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Duesenberg J-403

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 12-14, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

There are a lot of Duesenbergs coming out of the woodwork for Monterey this year. This is the third Wednesday in a row we’ve featured one. The dual-cowl phaeton is the best Model J body style, and this is a rare variant of the breed.

Murphy’s designer decided to cut the rear cowl (the folding windshield between the two rows of seats) down the middle, so either side could flip up independently, allowing passengers from either side to enter without having to heave the entire cowl upward. It was dubbed the “butterfly” dual cowl, and only three were built.

Power is, of course, from a 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter inline-eight. This car lacks exterior door handles from the factory and rides on the shorter of the two main Model J wheelbases. This chassis originally had engine J-145 in it, but it was replaced early on with J-403. The body was originally fitted to the car with engine J-336. By the 1950s, the car as you see it had come together.

The most recent restoration was completed in 2009, and the car has been used on several long-distance tours since. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $3,305,000.

Duesenberg J-537

1935 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Well, this is the best body style on a Model J. LeBaron debuted the Dual Cowl Phaeton on the Model J, but Duesenberg’s in-house designer, Gordon Buehrig, tweaked the design a bit, and the “Sweep Panel” dual-cowl phaeton was born. The bodies were produced by “LaGrande,” which was the sort of pen name of the Union City Body Company, a Cord subsidiary.

It’s thought that just 15 of these were built by LaGrande, with this being the last. Power is from a 6.9-liter inline-eight rated at 265 horsepower. This car was used as a factory demonstrator in New York before being purchased by its first owner in 1936. That person was a 26-year-old heir to the Dow Jones publishing fortune. Must be nice.

It was restored for the first time circa 1970 and again around 2000. The car retains its original engine, body, and firewall. Model J-wise, this is about as good as they come (although I prefer more dramatic two-tone paint schemes). Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $3,125,000.

Duesenberg J-281

1933 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | May 20, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

There are quite a few striking Duesenberg Model J bodies that were offered by various coachbuilders. In fact, just about every one of them is pretty striking. But none more so than the in-house dual-cowl phaeton penned by Gordon Buehrig.

The LeBaron dual-cowl phaeton was one of the first body styles introduced on the Model J after its introduction. Buehrig improved it a bit for those produced by LaGrande, which was actually a pseudonym for the Union City Body Company – a Cord subsidiary. They called it LaGrande, I guess because it sounded fancier. The only thing that would make this car better is to change the red to green.

Like other Js, this car is powered by a 6.9-liter inline-eight capable of 265 horsepower. It’s one of 12 such examples built with this bodywork, all of which survive. However, this chassis was originally delivered with engine J-334 and a Murphy convertible sedan body. J-281 was from a Rollston town car and was swapped into this car during original ownership. This body was added later on but is the real deal.

You can read more about this car here and see more from Bonhams here.

Update: Sold $1,655,000.

Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl

1932 Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl Phaeton by Binder

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2020

Photo – Gooding & Company

The J12 was the pinnacle of Hispano-Suiza motorcars. It was introduced in 1931 and replaced the H6 line of cars that dated back to 1919. The model was produced by the French arm of the company and lasted through the end of Hispano-Suiza production in 1938.

It’s powered by a 9.4-liter V12 equipped with two carburetors and good for 220 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. It was no slouch in its day. This car carries beautiful dual cowl phaeton coachwork from Binder. Of the 114 examples of the J12 built, only 10 survivors are open cars.

Provenance is where this car really shines. It was purchased by Briggs Cunningham in 1954. It later made its way to the Collier Collection in Florida, where it remained until it went back to the West Coast in 1988, entering the Blackhawk Collection. That’s where the current owner bought it in the 1990s. That’s quite the lineage. The expected price tag is $1,500,000-$2,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,425,000.

Duesenberg Model X

1927 Duesenberg Model X Dual Cowl Phaeton by Locke

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | St. Louis, Missouri | May 4-5, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

After the Duesenberg Model A had been on sale for six years, the Duesenberg brothers introduced a new, sportier model: the Model X. Shortly after its announcement, E.L. Cord swooped in and bought the company, ushering the new Model J into production and cancelling the Model X. Only 13 were built before Model J production took over.

It is powered by a 5.3-liter straight-eight capable of 100 horsepower, and the car itself was not just a slightly modified Model A. It was a mostly new car. This particular example carries a dual cowl phaeton body from Locke – the only remaining such example of four built.

With known ownership history from new – and a lengthy stay in the Harrah Collection – this is certainly a car to watch. Especially considering only four or five of these still exist. The current restoration was actually performed by Harrah’s team and is over 50 years old. The last Model X to change hands was this car – in 1996. They make acquiring a Model J seem like a rather ordinary endeavor. Click here for more info and here for more from this great sale.

Update: Sold $527,500.

Duesenberg J-402

1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton

Offered by Mecum | Las Vegas, Nevada | November 17, 2018

Photo – Mecum

When the Model J Duesenberg was introduced in 1929 it caused quite a splash. I wonder what it must have been like to see one on the show stand and say “I want one” only to realize that the company would only sell you an engine and chassis for the price of a good-sized house.

You were responsible for taking it somewhere to have a body fitted. This car originally carried a Rollston Town Car body. By the 1950s that had been replaced with a Brunn Convertible Victoria. Whoever restored it in the 1970s built this La Grande-style Dual Cowl Phaeton. So this is not original coachwork, but it looks quite nice in lavender and lilac.

Power is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower. It was the king of the road and has a 150 mph speedometer. That speed might sound crazy for a road car designed in the 1920s, but it wasn’t too far from the truth. This is yet another classic coming from the Academy of Art University collection. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Sold $770,000.

Duesenberg J-347

1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 6-7, 2016

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This Duesenberg Model J – which is beautifully photographed, despite the fact that geese are evil – is one of the more desirable body styles that was ever produced in a more-than-one-off quantity. The Dual Cowl Phaeton is one of the most interesting bodies you can have on an old touring car because it’s not something you can find and any new car. Anywhere.

The second windshield provided some wind and weather protection for backseat passengers (and notice just how far back they really are). On this car, Murphy has actually angled the rear glass like the front, making the rear seat compartment look quite sporty if taken alone. And, as is the case with all Model Js, this car is powered by a 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower.

Murphy only built three Dual Cowl Phaetons and this is one of those cars. It is numbers matching from new (which is rare in itself). The car was restored in the early 1960s and has been maintained since. There’s an interesting history here, too: J-347 was sold new in Massachusetts but the owner moved to Mexico and in 1945, sold the car to a Mexican businessman. It was later featured in a film and then walled up in an airport parking garage by its next owner for years until being discovered and relocated to America.

The same family has owned this car for 54 years meaning this will be the first time it has changed hands in the modern era. It’s a stunning design on an incredible chassis and should bring big money. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s.

Update: Sold $2,090,000.