Duesenberg J-563

1935 Duesenberg Model SSJ Speedster by LaGrande

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 24, 2018

Photo – Gooding & Company

So why is this among the most exciting cars to come to market in at least a decade? Well, for one it’s among the greatest American motorcars ever made and two, it’s been in a long-term collection that you’d think would never consider parting with it. More on that in a minute.

The SSJ was the ultimate evolution of the already-amazing Duesenberg Model J. The Model J transformed into the awesome “SJ” when a supercharger was added. That bumped power from 265 to 320. Duesenberg developed two “SSJ” cars – they were also supercharged and had an exceptionally short wheelbase. Power from the supercharged 6.9-liter straight-eight was bumped to 400 horsepower for the SSJ, thanks to parts borrowed from the “Mormon Meteor” land speed record car.

400 horsepower. In a road car. In 1935. How are you still even reading this? Shouldn’t your mind have been blown by this point? It would be another 20+ years before American roads saw that kind of stock horsepower again.

These two SSJs – this one, the first one, was sold new to Gary Cooper. The other one, in 1936, went to Clark Gable. The legend is that they would race these two Depression-era supercars in the Hollywood Hills. The fact that these two huge stars both got one of these cars is no coincidence. Duesenberg thought the publicity might help save the company. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

Cooper only kept the car a short time (and reportedly had it repainted shortly after taking possession) and it had seven other owners before Briggs Cunningham acquired the car in 1949. In 1986, Cunningham’s collection was sold to Miles Collier and it’s been a highlight of that collection since, spending quite a while on display in the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida. It was at this extensively-financed museum that I pretty much assumed this car would stay forever. But it isn’t. Anyone can buy it – well anyone with “In Excess of $10,000,000+,” as Gooding & Company hilariously estimates it will bring.

At any rate, it’s an iconic piece of American motoring history that might get locked away again for a long time. It’s exciting to see something like this come out from behind the doors of a big collection. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Duesenberg J-510

1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Sweep Panel Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017

Photo – Auctions America

When one of the most powerful cars on the market isn’t quick enough for you, what do you do? Well you buy the supercharged version, of course! The Model SJ Duesenberg was seriously powerful. Its 6.9-liter Lycoming straight-eight, when supercharged, makes 320 horsepower. That’s what entry-level luxury sports sedans make today.

Top speed on these beasts is said to be about 140 mph. But if you’re not brave enough to take a car with 1920s-era brakes to 140 mph, your best bet is to buy one that has a custom body (as they all did) that looks like it’s already moving quickly. And in this case, that is a LaGrande “Sweep Panel” Phaeton. Only 11 of this body style were produced and only three of those were supercharged. Of those three, only this one is not a Dual Cowl Phaeton, as the rear passenger compartment does not have a second cowl, just a folding windshield.

This car was sold new in New York but it spent many years in Mexico. It was restored by an American owner in 1974 and has been fastidiously maintained since. This is one of only 36 original SJs, making it extremely valuable, as the price reflects: $2,500,000-$3,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,300,000.

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 J-562

1935 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | August 29-September 1, 2013

1935 Duesenberg Model J-562 Dual-Cowl Phaeton

This is an actual Model J Duesenberg but it’s had some work done to it. When new, it was delivered to the Vice-President of the Cord Corporation with a LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton body that looked exactly like the one you see here.

Apparently he used the car for some time before putting a Willoughby Berline body on the car and selling it as a new car (nothing like being the head of an automaker and more or less just making up a car’s “newness” factor because it’s convenient to you). Anyway, it sold and the chassis/engine numbers are both near the very end of Model J production – almost as high as you can go as 1937 was the final year for Duesenberg.

Some time later, the car was re-fitted with the body you see here. It’s an exacting re-creation of the original LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton. It is not original but plays the part very well. It has also had a supercharger added to it to bring the 6.9-liter straight-eight up to “SJ” specification and 320 horsepower. It is not a factory SJ car.

This is a very desirable body style, even though it is not original. But it should still bring a very nice price (in the $600,000-$1,000,000 range). Click here for more info and here for more from Auctions America’s Auburn Fall sale.

Update: Sold $858,000.

Update II: Not sold, Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2015, high bid of $700,000.

Update III: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Motor City 2015, $852,500.