Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 18, 2023
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.
1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Barrelside Phaeton by LeBaron
Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 18-19, 2023
Great color combo here, gray with red accents and maroon upholstery. Not sure there’s really a bad two-tone Duesenberg though (this one was originally two-tone beige and brown). This is a LeBaron-bodied Model J, and it’s a dual cowl phaeton with a “barrelside” body, meaning the sides of the body had a slight curve, tapering inward at the top and bottom.
Just seven Model Js were bodied by LeBaron in this style. And this is the only one on a long-wheelbase chassis. The car is powered by a 6.9-liter inline-eight that made 265 horsepower.
This car was purchased new by a tobacco heir and was delivered new to its American owner in Paris. It was restored in the early 1980s and looks fresh. The estimate here is a healthy $3,000,000-$4,000,000. Click here for more info.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan by Murphy
Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 2-3, 2023
Feel like it’s been a bit since we’ve featured a car from Gooding & Company, although it’s hard not to take notice when they start putting Duesenbergs out there. We’ve got a few other cars coming from this sale too.
This one has mostly known ownership history back to new and was restored over 30 years ago, when it received its current two-tone paint job. Convertible sedans look much better with the top down, and this one is no exception. The pre-sale estimate is $2,000,000-$2,400,000. Click here for more info.
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy
Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | September 1-3, 2022
Another week, another great Model J. This one is not a sedan, but instead is a very desirable convertible coupe by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. About 25 such bodies were applied to Model J chassis by Murphy.
The car features a naturally aspirated 6.9-liter inline-eight that was rated at 265 horsepower. The most interesting aspect of this car is one of its previous owners: Maurice Schwartz, of Bohman & Schwartz, a coachbuilder that had their fair share of Model Js come through their studios. Prior to his own company, Schwartz worked for Murphy. He owned it in the 1950s while working for Bill Harrah.
This particular chassis remained with a single owner for almost five decades. It was restored after he sold it in 2014 and went on to win various awards. Read more about it here.
Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | September 3, 2022
There have been some great Duesenberg sedans coming out of the woodwork this year. This four-door sedan features blind rear quarters (no rearward side windows), which was sometimes called a Club Sedan. Derham called theirs the “Arlington,” which sounds much more dignified.
Five Derham Arlington sedans were built, four of them on the short-wheelbase Model J chassis like this one. And power came from a 6.9-liter inline-eight rated at 265 horsepower. This one was purchased new by a Peruvian singer who likely kept it at his New York home before taking it to other countries. It later spent time under ownership in Paris and Cairo. Exotic.
The car came back to the U.S. in 1957. It has not been restored but was apparently repainted at least once, though it isn’t made all that clear in the catalog when that happened. No estimate is available, but you can read more here.
Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022
There are a fair number of Model Js up for grabs in Monterey this year. We’ve featured a few of them in the last few weeks, and there are still more that we’ve featured in years past. More recently we talked about how closed cars are usually on the cheaper end of the entry into Model J ownership. But once again, this car doesn’t quite fit that bill.
It was originally bodied as a Weymann sedan but was sent back to Duesenberg in 1933 to get a factory (LaGrande) “blind quarter brougham” body put on. Still a sedan with a cloth roof, but no rear 3/4 windows at the back. The engine is a 6.9-liter inline-eight that was rated at 265 horsepower when new.
This car has known ownership history back to new and was restored in 1994. It has been in German ownership since 2007 and is now up for auction in California. Click here for more info.
Offered by Broad Arrow Auctions | Monterey, California | August 18, 2022
Fixed-roof Model Js have never been the most sought after. Maybe in their day when they were used by titans of industry or Gilded Age heiresses to be chauffeured around in. But not now. Everyone wants an open car of some kind, disappearing top convertibles or even touring cars.
So, because of this, many sedans and limousines have been rebodied, and those that haven’t are generally less expensive. Well those days are apparently over. This car features a limousine body by Willoughby, a design that was updated in period as updates became available. It was later reverted to more closely resemble how it looked when new. The 6.9-liter inline-eight was rated at 265 horsepower.
This car was purchased new by the co-founder of Esquire magazine. A restoration by a later owner was completed in 1991, and the car was subsequently donated to a museum, who sold it for profit. The current owner bought it in 2018. The estimate is $1,000,000-$1,500,000. You’re gonna have to find a different “cheaper” entry point into the Model J owner’s club. Click here for more info.
1935 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Rollston
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022
It is both kind of disappointing and kind of mind-blowing that seemingly half of Model J Duesenbergs that come up for sale have already been featured on this site. This car is one of two coming out of this collection (this is the other). We haven’t featured this one before because it’s been owned by the same guy since 1967.
The Model J is powered by a 6.9-liter Lycoming straight-eight that made 265 horsepower in naturally aspirated form. This car, a 1935 model, carries one of the later engines built. There were more than a few convertible coupes put on Model J chassis, many of which by Murphy. This car is the only Rollston convertible coupe example built.
But the body wasn’t initially on this chassis, as it was previously fitted to an SJ. It has known ownership history, including time spent in Cuba, and it was purchased by the current owner in 1967, two years after it was restored. Read more about it here.
Power is from a 6.9-liter inline-eight that made 265 horsepower when new. Model Js had a three-speed manual transmission. But all that power and favorable gearing means that this beast can do almost 90 mph in second gear.
This car was originally owned by an heir to a Chicago department store fortune. Ownership history is more or less known, and the car was restored by RM with work completing around 2000. The current owner bought it in 2010. Price estimates? More than a limo but less than a dual-cowl phaeton. Click here for more info.
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Victoria by Rollston
Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 3, 2022
Well this is awkward. We’ve already featured a Model J Duesenberg with an engine carrying number J-394. Apparently that J-394 featured a re-stamped engine, making this the actual J-394. Or who knows. All of these old cars are just a pile of parts put together over the last ~100 years.
J-394, of course, is a 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight. And it’s fitted to a short-wheelbase Model J, which are not tiny by any means, but the Henry Ford Museum has one very similar to this parked next to a Bugatti Royale and it looks downright tiny.
The Rollston body was originally fitted to this chassis but was previously removed and mounted to a different chassis. The body itself was later restored before being reunited with this chassis in the 1970s. It’s been in the same family for 17 years and now has an estimate of $900,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info.