Duesenberg J-348

1931 Duesenberg Model J Custom Berline by Judkins

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 16, 2019

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

Classic cars don’t always make for great drivers. They can be pretty, historical, or just fun to say you own, but not everyone takes them out and drives them. The great part – well one of many – about a Duesenberg Model J is that it has enough performance to keep pace with today’s traffic, though I suspect the brakes aren’t quite what you’re used to.

This Model J is a long-wheelbase example carrying its original Custom Berline sedan body by Judkins. The car has never been restored, just serviced as-needed to keep it roadworthy. The engine is a 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight, and, strangely, the auction listing makes not one note of which engine this car carries. A little internet sleuthing reveals it is most likely J-348.

It was delivered new to the daughter of Billy Durant, and was purchased by the current owner in 2001. Being sold without reserve, it’s a great opportunity to acquire an all-original Model J… that you can still go out and enjoy. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $506,000.

Duesenberg JN-575

1936 Duesenberg Model JN LWB Tourster

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Pacific Grove, California | August 23, 2018

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

Here’s yet another Duesenberg on offer during the week of car activities in and around Monterey. What this is is a “JN” – a term never used by Duesenberg themselves. The Model J was introduced in 1929. It was expensive. Obviously, that didn’t go so well once the Depression set in and Duesenberg had surplus chassis lying around for years. So in 1935 they decided to freshen the look a little bit. They put on smaller wheels, lowered the body, and fitted different fenders, taillights, and trim. Every one had Rollston coachwork.

This one does not have Rollston coachwork any longer. It still features the same 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight under the hood that all of the other Model Js started with. But the body is different. And here’s why: when it was sold in 1969, it’s new owner, commissioned a restoration. The body was separated from the chassis and the building the Rollston body was stored in burned down.

In the early 1970s, this Derham-style Tourster was constructed on the original chassis with the original engine and mechanicals intact. Since that restoration and re-body, the car has been maintained but never again restored. It shows well and is one of 10 Model JNs built by the factory. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $775,500.

Update: Sold, Worldwide Auctioneers Scottsdale 2019, $605,000.

California Spyder Competizione

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder Competizione by Scaglietti

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 20-21, 2016

Photo - Gooding & Company

Photo – Gooding & Company

California Spyders are among the most special Ferraris. They have a legend all their own and a beauty almost unmatched by their contemporaries and other Ferraris alike. But there were a select few of these cars that were given to people crazy enough to take them racing. It’s like putting a supermodel in a boxing ring. The difference though, is that this is one competent supermodel.

The long wheelbase California Spyder came before the short wheelbase version and were built in 1959. Only 50 were made. This car is powered by a 275 horsepower 3.0-liter V-12 engine – the Competizione spec being good for more ponies over the standard road car. The other thing that a competition Spyder had was a lightweight aluminium body. Only nine of these were ever constructed.

Specifically, this car was the first one built with disc brakes and it also has a competition transmission and large fuel tank. It was sold new in America by Luigi Chinetti to George Reed of Illinois who took the car racing. The competition history of this car includes:

  • 1959 Bahamas Speed Weeks, Nassau Trophy Race – 23rd (with Reed)
  • 1960 12 Hours of Sebring –  5th (with Reed and Alan Connell)
  • 1960 Bahamas Speed Weeks, Nassau Trophy Race – 12th (with Reed)

It also had quite the SCCA run in 1960. The car has had several owners since departing Reed’s care and was restored in the 1980s and again in 2011. It’s as good as they come and should bring between $18,000,000-$20,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $18,150,000.

Duesenberg JN-500

1935 Duesenberg Model JN LWB Berline by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)

Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 8, 2013

1935 Duesenberg Model JN (500) LWB Berline by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)

This Duesenberg is a Model JN – that is, it is one of 10 Rollston-bodied cars produced in 1935 with modern updates to the front of the car along with smaller wheels. They were among the last Duesenberg’s built at a time when the company was desperately trying to stay afloat and keep its aging flagship car relevant.

As was the case with JNs, this one came equipped with Rollston bodywork. This chassis and body originally had engine J-559 underhood, but that was replaced in the 1950s when its owner consolidated two different Duesenbergs. This car also received the larger Model J wheels at that time. The engine was unchanged – a 6.9-liter straight eight making 265 horsepower.

This car was delivered new to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the famous Hollywood tap-dancer who appeared alongside Will Rogers and Shirley Temple onscreen. When he took the car to California, he sent it to Bohman & Schwartz for some updates (only a year after purchase). When he passed, the car bounced between owners – its engine being swapped out along the way. It was restored in 1970 and has been maintained since, which is kind of remarkable considering its fairly nice condition and the fact it has covered more than 100,000 miles in its well-used life. It should sell for between $500,000-$700,000. You can read more about it here and check out the rest of Gooding’s auction lineup here.

Update: Sold $594,000.

Ferrari 250 Tour de France

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Tour de France’ by Scaglietti

Offered by RM Auctions | London, England | October 31, 2012

There are perhaps few cars that have had more variations of them built than the Ferrari 250. The backbone of the series is the Colombo V12 displacing 3.0 liters. Power output was model-specific, and this car puts out 247 horsepower, which is about mid-range for a Tour de France model (they ranged from 237-256 between the different series).

The 250 GT Tour de France came about after a special Pinin Farina-designed and Scaglietti-built special won the 1956 Tour de France road race that was held all over France. The designation was never official but was used to describe the cars by the factory. The design was put into production and a total of 79 were built between 1956 and 1959. They were built in four distinct series. This is a Series IV car, the 30th of the 36 built (Series IV are the most numerous). What sets it apart is the fact that it has but one vent behind each of the side windows as well as uncovered headlights (although some export models had the headlight covers fitted, making this even rarer).

Right from the get-go, this car was used for competition. It competed in hill climbs all over Italy in the hands of its first owner, reaching the podium in its class multiple times and winning a few as well. After only three years on the circuit, the car exchanged hands for the first time, and then hopped from here to there, spending years in some of the world’s great collections.

It has competed in the historic Mille Miglia and was restored by its current owner, who acquired it in 2002. While the ‘Tour de France’ 250 GT may not be a 250 GTO, their prices have risen steadily over the years and they remain one of the most collectible (and by that I mean “expensive”) variants of the 250 GT. Only serious Ferrari collectors need apply, as the pre-sale estimate is listed at $2,900,000-$3,850,000. For more information, click here. And for more from RM in London, click here.

Update: Sold $3,160,000.

Duesenberg J-468

1934 Duesenberg Model J LWB Custom Beverly Sedan by Murphy

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2012

This long-wheelbase Model J has a “Beverly Sedan” body from Murphy. I really don’t know what “Beverly” refers to, but it was used on a few Model Js and a number of Cords. If anyone knows, please share.

In any case, this car (engine no. 468), painted in an ostentatious (and, in my opinion, pretty ugly) shade of gold, is one of 12 Murphy Beverly Sedans built. Of course, it is claimed that this is the “finest in existence,” but then again, who would claim that they car they are trying to sell is “meh, maybe the fourth or fifth finest in existence?”

It is being offered as part of Barrett-Jackson’s second-annual “Salon Collection” (it even has its own website) at their Scottsdale auction in January. The car is coming from the Imperial Palace Collection where it has been on display for some time. Barrett-Jackson doesn’t publish pre-sale estimates and it’s hard to guess, as their prices are all over the place. I expect this car to either A. not meet its reserve or B. go for more than it should after the crowd is prodded by being told it’s “way under the money.” Watch and see. You can read more here.

Update: Sold $1,430,000.

Duesenberg J-430

1931 Duesenberg Model J LWB Limousine by Willoughby

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

Photo – Gooding & Company

A few weeks ago we featured a car very similar to this. J-306 is also a Willoughby Limousine, but it is green and was offered by Mecum during the Pebble Beach weekend as well. The write up for J-306 included a history of Willoughby, so we’ll keep this one short.

The other thing that differs between these cars is that this one is original. It has been repainted – in the late 1950s. It is in amazing condition for a car this old. Then again, this car was owned by people who loved Duesenbergs for most of its life. The owners appreciated the car and maintained it. It has also spent time in museums.

A decent number of Duesenbergs have been rebodied over the years. Many more have been restored (or over-restored). This one is all original – a 1930s time warp car. It is way cool. The pre-sale estimate was also in the affordable-for-a-Duesenberg range of $400,000-$500,000. The complete lot description can/could be found here.

Update: Sold $330,000.

Update: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Hershey 2019, $451,000.

Duesenberg J-381

1930 Duesenberg Model J LWB Town Car by Murphy

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 15-22, 2012

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

Well I said in a previous post that we’d try and feature every Model J Duesenberg that comes up for auction and this is the third of the Arizona Duesenbergs for this season. And it just so happens that all three of them were bodied by Murhpy – the most prolific of all Duesenberg body-builders (now I’m picturing some hulk of a man lifting a Duesenberg with each arm like a barbell).

This car was delivered to its first owner on Halloween of 1930 (cue the sounds of ghosts and ghouls). This is that actual engine (J-381) that was fitted to this long-wheelbase chassis. There are a fair number of Model Js that have swapped engines over the years. And some that have swapped bodies – Freaky Friday-style (hmm, the Halloween theme returns).

This is an attractive Town Car from the Walter M. Murphy Company and it’s a car that would very much appear to be designed for some extravagantly wealthy person to be driven in. I’ve always wondered why “the help” were relegated to riding in the elements, but I guess that’s one of the perks of being wealthy. I’m sure the chauffeur’s union would object to this treatment if this car didn’t have a 265 horsepower straight-eight engine.

Barrett-Jackson doesn’t publish estimates for the cars they’re offering but I’m guessing it should come in right at about $1 million. There are bodystyles that are much more valuable and $1 million is a nice round number and a good starting point for valuating a Duesenberg. Also, this car has been sitting (for sale) at the Blackhawk Collection for quite some time.

There were 481 Model Js built and only 4 Murphy Town Cars. Find out more here and more about Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, here.

Update: Sold $1,045,000.

Update II: Sold, Bonhams Monterey 2016, $1,254,000.