1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe by Rollston (and Bohman & Schwartz)
Offered by Gooding & Company | Monterey, California | August 19, 2012
You might be saying, “Hey, the Pebble Beach sales have already concluded, why are you still featuring cars from them?” Well, that’s because there were so many great cars that I just went ahead and skipped all of the Duesenbergs (except for the one from Mecum). I figured we could feature them post-auction as there is a short lull before any other big sale. Turns out, that lull isn’t long enough because there were no less than seven of these beautiful Dueseys for sale in Monterey. So saddle up, because for the next week or so it’s nothing but Model Js.
This might be the most desirable Duesenberg of all during the Monterey weekend. The Model J was introduced in 1929 (and it was expensive) and almost immediately, the selection of people who could afford such a car dwindled rapidly. The SJ was introduced in 1932 with some more power. By 1935, Duesenberg was struggling mightily. They updated the Model J to JN specification, which was more modern looking. All had Rollston bodies and only 10 were built.
The engine remained the same 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-8 of the cars before it. Some things did change, like the wheels – they were smaller. The cars had sleeker bodies with skirted fenders and new taillight designs. The designs – especially this one – embraced the Art Deco look better than their predecessors.
This car was purchased new by Clark Gable. The full lot description includes the great story of him and this car, it’s worth a read but I won’t just copy it here. Originally a Rollston Convertible Coupe, Gable took the car to Bohman & Schwartz who updated it to the much more dramatic car you see here, the design being done with Gable’s input. In the late 1940s, after the death of Carole Lombard, Gable’s wife, he sold the car.
It changed hands numerous times, spending about 10 years in the Blackhawk Collection until 2006, when the current owner bought it and restored it to how you see it now – that is, how it was when Clark Gable and Carole Lombard cruised the streets of Beverly Hills with it in the 1930s. It originally had engine J-560 in it, but in the 1950s engine J-521 was installed. It currently has the 560 number on it, but could probably best be described as having bits of both.
The is one hell of a car with one hell of a history. The fact that Gooding lists the estimate as “available upon request” when they feel quite comfortable quoting prices up to $10 million for other cars, means this car is going to bring a ton of money. For the complete description (including the very narrative-like story of Gable and Lombard’s courtship), click here.
Update: Not sold.