Duesenberg J-434

1931 Duesenberg Model J Roadster by Packard

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is kind of an odd combination, a Packard-built body on a Duesenberg. Sure, many old cars had their bodies swapped around. It was usually sedans being rebodied as more desirable convertibles once they became objects of pleasure instead of daily transportation.

But in this case, this Model J was fitted with a period Packard roadster body… in period. By Duesenberg. The story is that a Duesenberg branch purchased a brand new roadster body from Packard before it could be installed on one of their cars and fitted it to a J chassis in 1931. It’s said to be one of very few true roadsters on a Model J chassis. And probably the only Packard-bodied car.

The engine is a 265-horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight, and this particular engine was fitted in this chassis in 1989. The pre-sale estimate is $1,400,000-$1,800,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

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-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-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-225

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan by Murphy

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 12-14, 2021

Photo – Mecum

The Convertible Sedan produced by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, seems like one of the most common Duesenberg Model J body styles. But they only actually made 31 of them. Although… I guess that is a lot, considering the limited production of the Model J.

The Model J, of course, is powered by a 6.9-liter Lycoming inline-eight that made 265 horsepower when new. This example was delivered new to the president of Hammermill Paper in Pennsylvania, and it was next owned by a Sears executive. The car was on museum display as early as 1973.

Although the pictures don’t really show it, the car is finished in dark green, and it is excellent. You can read more about this seven-figure car here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $2,365,000.

Duesenberg J-566

1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Sedan by Rollston

Offered by Bring a Trailer Auctions | Online | June 2021

Photo – Bring a Trailer Auctions

It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve featured a Model J. This Duesenberg is a late one, and it’s one of 10 “JN” models built in 1935. All 10 were bodied by Rollston, and this car is one of three that was built as a convertible sedan. It was restored in the late 1990s and has spent the last two decades in the collection of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Power comes from a 420ci Lycoming straight-eight that made 265 horsepower when new. There were a number of four-door convertible body styles on Duesenbergs. The “convertible sedan” features folding B-pillars and a single front windshield. The top boot out back sticks up like a big spoiler in the air.

This is the fifth JN we’ve featured. I believe all still exist, meaning half of them have come up for public sale since 2012. This one has a week left to bid on, and you can find out more about it here.

Update: Sold $1,341,000.

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.

Duesenberg J-586

1936 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline by Rollston

Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 14-22, 2021

Photo – Mecum

The 6.9-liter Lycoming straight-eight that powers this Model J Duesenberg is the third-to-last “J” engine by number. Only J-587 and J-588 are later. This is the final Rollston-bodied Model J, and Mecum states that it was the last completed car to leave the Duesenberg showroom. It was shown at the 1936 New York Auto Show with a price tag of $17,000.

The 265-horsepower car rides on a long-wheelbase chassis and was purchased new by the then-president of Coca-Cola. It was later owned by jazz musician Charles Kyner for 46 years. The restoration was completed in 1990.

These later Model Js have such different bodywork than the earlier cars. It seemed like there was more “freedom” for the designers to rework the area forward of the cowl. This one is striking from the head-on view, and the interior looks like a nice place to be. You can read more about it here and see more from Mecum here.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $2,800,000.

Duesenberg J-169

1929 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Sedan by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Online | August 13-15, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This short-wheelbase Model J is said to be one of approximately 45 built as a convertible sedan by the Walter M. Murphy Company. It was a popular choice for a Duesenberg body, and it’s easy to see why.

Power is from a 6.9-liter inline-eight that was fitted with a supercharger in the 1960s. The supercharger was an assembled unit, made up of original and reproduction parts. This is not a factory-supercharged car. Had it been, the factory would’ve claimed an output of 320 horsepower.

The history of this chassis is known back to its second owner, and it was acquired by the consignor back in 1990. Stashed away for decades, it would be a welcome sight at most shows. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $781,000.

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.