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.

Duesenberg J-463

1932 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton in the style of LaGrande

Offered by Mecum | Houston, Texas | April 9-11, 2015

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

On December 1, 1928, Duesenberg debuted their new Model J at the New York Car Show. The car was an instant hit among those that could afford it. In the next year, the company built 200 examples before the stock market crashed and money dried up. Only a few hundred more were built before sales stopped in 1937.

The standard engine is a 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower. This particular car was originally bodied by Rollston in limousine form. A few years after it was new, the body was swapped for a Dietrich Convertible Sedan. That body was lost in a fire.

In the 1970s, the car was restored and the current body – which was scratch-built in the style of the famous LaGrande Dual Cowl Phaeton. A supercharger was also added, upgrading the car to SJ specification (meaning 320 horsepower). It’s not an original SJ, but it is an original Model J chassis and engine. It’s very nice and you can read more here and see more from Mecum here.

Update: Sold $500,000.

Update: Not sold, Mecum Monterey 2015, high bid of $550,000.

Update: Sold, Mecum Monterey 2016, $600,000.

Update: Not sold, Mecum Monterey 2017, high bid of $550,000.

Duesenberg J-523

1936 Duesenberg Model SJ Dual Cowl Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | August 30, 2014

Photo - Auctions America

Photo – Auctions America

I’ll put this as simply as possible: Duesenbergs don’t get much better than this. Reason #1: this baby is supercharged. Reason #2: this is the best (my favorite) body style you can get. The body, the LaGrande Dual Cowl Phaeton, was an updated version of the LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton. The updates were done by none other than legendary designer Gordon Buehrig.

This is a factory-spec Model SJ – so it’s not a Model J that was upgraded years later. That’s pretty exciting. The engine is the standard 6.9-liter straight-eight that’s been supercharged to put out 320 horsepower. This is the original chassis and engine but the body was swapped with another car. Both of these cars simply wear each others bodies to this day.

The present owner bought this in 1978 after the current restoration had been completed. It has recently been serviced to running and driving condition. This is one of four LaGrande Dual Cowl Phaetons attached to a supercharged engine and one of the final of the kind built. It’s an awesome opportunity and should bring in between $1,500,000-$2,000,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of this auctions’ lineup.

Update: Sold $1,265,000.

Duesenberg II

1983 Duesenberg II Dual Cowl Phaeton

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | August 30, 2014

Photo - Auctions America

Photo – Auctions America

Replicas. Some people love them, just as many people loathe them. Shelby Cobra replicas outnumber original Cobras by what has to be at least 100-1. All of E.L. Cord’s highlights from the 1930s were re-produced years later. Auburn Speedsters, Cord 812s, and the legendary Duesenberg Model J.

The Auburns and Cords look similar, but they aren’t convincing as originals. I think what holds them back is that they have modern tires on them. Not so here – these are correct 19-inch wire wheels with whitewalls. And they sell the whole package. Nothing here seems out of the ordinary until you look under the hood where a 7.5-liter Ford V-8 sits.

There have been a couple of attempts to revive Duesenberg, one of America’s most prestigious manufacturers. August Duesenberg’s son attempted it in the 1960s (and the car sort of became the 1970s Stutz Bearcat). There were a few awkward sedans built in the 70s called Duesenbergs. The Duesenberg II was the most successful, produced between 1978 and as late as 2000 by Elite Heritage Motors Corp. of Elroy, Wisconsin. They offered five different bodies that you could’ve gotten back in the 30s – this Dual Cowl Phaeton one of them.

When they were built, prices for these “new Duesenbergs” went up to $225,000. That’s pretty expensive for a replica. But these cars have modern conveniences and look absolutely stunning and authentic. Very few people can afford a real Model J, but you can get the same feeling for a lot less with this thing. Replicas aren’t something we’ll normally feature here, but this seems more legitimate than most. Plus, they’re far rarer than the real thing, with less than 100 built.

You can buy this one for an estimated $200,000-$240,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $147,500.

Duesenberg J-129

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2014

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

This is one of my favorite body styles of Duesenberg. The Model J is one of the best cars ever built and a LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton is just such a grand way to tour.

This is an early car (as evidenced by the engine number) and LeBaron was one of the three coachbuilders that Duesenberg invited to build bodies for their early cars. This style was designed by LeBaron co-founder Ralph Roberts. This car has its matching engine, chassis and body. Which is relatively rare.

Sold new to the son of one of the Dodge brothers, the Gooding & Company catalog description says this is believed to be the only Duesenberg delivered new in Detroit. I guess Indiana and Detroit had a nice feud going back in the day (I’d say Detroit won the battle but Indiana is winning the war, economically speaking of course). The ownership chain is unbroken and known since. The car was restored in 2008 by Fran Roxas (that adds to the price tag significantly). This is one of the best designs of all time and can be yours for between $2,000,000-$2,300,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Co. in Arizona.

Update: Sold $2,090,000.

Update II: Sold, Gooding & Company Scottsdale 2016, $2,420,000.

Duesenberg J-183

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton

Offered by RM Auctions | Plymouth, Michigan | July 27, 2013

1929 Duesenberg Model J 183

This Model J is an actual Model J but it doesn’t have an original body on it. The original body, which was a Derham Town Car, burned to the ground. At some point more recently, the car was restored and given a Dual-Cowl Phaeton body in the style of Murphy. But between that time is where this car’s interesting history lies.

James Hoe was a mechanic who is more or less responsible for keeping many of the Duesenbergs still around alive and well. He worked on them back in the day, servicing, repairing, etc. Whatever kept them around. Well in 1950, he bought this car for $150 – basically salvaging it. The body was a loss, so he turned it into a custom speedster. Many of the original Duesenberg parts were still on it, engine included (although the transmission was from a White truck).

He raced the car at some SCCA events and hillclimbs. It would do 140 mph. After he sold it, the car was restored to how you see it. A different engine was put in the car, but the bell housing from J-183 was retained and that is the number the engine carries today. It should sell for between $725,000-$900,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM at St. John’s.

Update: Sold $682,000.

Duesenberg J-270

1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

Offered by Gooding & Company | Monterey, California | August 18, 2012

This Model J has the LeBaron Dual Cowl body on it – my favorite bodystyle. This body was originally attached to a different chassis and engine than it is now. When it was first bought, it was wrecked and the chassis was junk. So Duesenberg removed the body, repaired it, and fitted it to a new chassis and engine, the one it currently has, including engine J-270.

One reason this car doesn’t really look like all the other LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaetons is because in 1937, the then-owner took the car to Derham and had them streamline it a little. There are aspects of this car that scream “1930s Art Deco” instead of “Big 1920s Touring Car.” The skirted fenders and bullet headlights are an awesome additions.

This car has been with the current owner for almost 60 years. It has been used regularly and never restored, just mechanically maintained. The two tone blue paint on the Sweep-Panel body (which is hard to see in the photo above) has helped create the nickname “Blue J” for this car.

For being unrestored, this is a truly impressive automobile. The pre-sale estimate was $2,000,000-$2,750,000. The complete catalog description is here.

Update: Sold $1,980,000.

Duesenberg J-487

1930 Duesenberg Model J LWB Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron

Sold by RM Auctions | Phoenix, Arizona | January 19, 2012

Photo – RM Auctions

We somehow missed featuring this Duesenberg during the hype and excitement leading up to the auctions in Arizona in January. And since one of my goals here is to feature every Model J that comes up for sale, here it is.

This is actually my favorite bodystyle – the LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton. It is also the coachwork most commonly associated with the Model J. And this is the only long-wheelbase Dual Cowl Phaeton built by LeBaron and it is the original body.

The engine, however, is not. When this car was delivered to a Mr. J. Clarke Dean of Chicago, Illinois in 1930, it had engine J-320 under the hood. The second owner discovered, in 1948, that the engine had been replaced with J-487 – an engine with no known previous history in another car. As always, the straight-8 makes 265 horsepower.

The sweep panel two-tone paint scheme is also my favorite. Black and red is the most common I’ve seen although most combinations are attractive (green and black is how I will have mine, please). LeGrande also built sweep panel Dual Cowl Phaetons that looked more or less the same. The way to tell the difference is that, on a LeGrande, the sweep of color extends farther down, halfway through the door.

This car was estimated between $900,000-$1,200,000. With this desirable, original coachwork, known history and coming from the John O’Quinn collection, it is definitely worth that. It sold for $880,000. Well bought. To read the complete catalog description, click here.

Update: RM Auctions, Amelia Island 2015:

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

Sold $1,155,000.

Update: RM Sotheby’s, Amelia Island 2019:

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Sold $1,650,000.