Hudson Town Car

1928 Hudson Model O Town Car by Murphy

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Shipshewana, Indiana | August 4, 2018

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

Here’s a fancy Hudson from the Hostetler Hudson Auto Museum in Shipshewana, Indiana. The Model O was produced by Hudson in 1927 and 1928. They offered five body styles from the factory, but the car you see here is a one-off coachbuilt Town Car by the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California.

It is powered by a 4.7-liter straight-six that makes 92 horsepower. It might seem unusual to have custom coachwork affixed to a six-cylinder Hudson chassis, but the original owners were wealthy Columbus, Ohio, couple. And the Mrs. in that family had a brother who worked for Hudson. So you can probably imagine how this car came to be.

As noted in the catalog, this car is titled as a 1928 model, but the chassis tag makes it pretty clear it was actually built in 1927. It is thought that the completion of the body likely occurred in 1928. Dubbed the most expensive Hudson ever built – at the princely price of $13,500 in 1928 – this will likely be one of the bigger dollar cars at this sale. You can see more about this sale here and more about this particular Hudson here.

Update: Sold $313,500.

Duesenberg J-497

1932 Duesenberg Model J Town Car by Kirchoff

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 5-6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

If you were fortunate enough to enter the harshest years of the Great Depression still a wealthy individual – as was the case of this car’s original owner who was an heiress – you probably wanted a grand automobile. And there were few as grand as the Duesenberg Model J.

This car was purchased – as a bare chassis – for Countess Anna Ingraham. The body was hand built by J. Gerald Kirchoff who was then enlisted as Ms. Ingraham’s personal chauffeur. Not many other coachbuilders offered that kind of service!

J-497 is supposedly one of the most expensive examples produced, costing $25,000 in 1932. And here’s part of the reason why: the inside of this car is opulently trimmed featuring such extravagances as hand-embroidered upholstery and 24-karat gold-plated hardware. Of course, there was another great extravagance: that 6.9-liter straight-eight that pumps out 265 horsepower. Ms. Ingraham used the car on a grand European tour until WWII broke out and she brought the car home.

When she passed in 1944, the car then sat until it was sold to a museum in 1962. It’s had six owners from new and the current owner acquired it in 1999. The restoration dates to the 1980s and it has been well maintained since. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $594,000.

Buick Special by Brewster

1938 Buick Special Series 40 Town Car by Brewster

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Las Vegas, Nevada | October 13-15, 2016

Photo - Barrett-Jackson

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

The first Buick Special was introduced in 1930. For 1936, it was redesigned and gained more of the look of the car you see here – except that this is a very rare, specially-bodied car by Brewster of Long Island. The Special would continue in Buick’s lineup (taking a few years off here and there) until 1969.

The 1938 Series 40 Special is powered by a 107 horsepower 4.1-liter straight-eight. With the Special being a full-size car, it was still Buick’s entry-level model. The cheapest 4-door Series 40 cost $1,022 in 1938 – but you can bet this car cost a lot more.

It’s always interesting to see the chassis people chose to have a coachbuilt body applied to. In this case, it was a popular one and the beautiful end result makes for a very special Special. You can read more about this car here and check out some other no reserve cars from Barrett-Jackson here.

Update: Sold $42,900.

Cadillac Town Car

1940 Cadillac Series 75 Town Car by Brunn

For sale at The Auto Collections | Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo - The Auto Collections

Photo – The Auto Collections

The second generation of the Cadillac Series 70 (and its derivatives) was introduced in 1938 and lasted through 1940. This series was Cadillac’s mid-level model in 1940, being flanked on either side by the entry-level Series 40 and the top-of-the-line Sixteen. For 1940, this series included the Series 62, Series 60 Special, Series 72, and Series 75.

The engine in the Series 75 is a 5.7-liter V-8 making 140 horsepower. Cadillac and their in-house coachbuilder Fleetwood offered a bunch of different bodies for the Series 75. But for a wealthy Ohioan, these options were not enough. So he went to The Brunn Company and ordered what was to be the final Brunn Town Car ever produced. The body is all aluminium and almost all custom from Brunn, save for the hood and front fenders.

The car is said to drive splendidly and it has been winning awards for decades. It is all-original and well-preserved and can be yours for $175,000. Click here for more info.

Duesenberg J-295

1934 Duesenberg Model J Town Car by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

This Model J Duesenberg sports a fairly low engine number but a relatively new model year designation. The Model J was introduced in 1929 – before the stock market crashed. Money was flowing, orders were placed. Then things went south and the company was stuck with a lot of inventory (in the form of engine/chassis combinations) that took years to move out to the door to coachbuilders.

This car was first sold in 1934, hence its model year. In that year, the widow of the head of Campbell’s Soup ordered this Duesey sent to the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, to be fitted with stately Town Car coachwork. The engine is the standard 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower.

Only 1,800 miles were put on this car before it was acquired by its second owner in 1947. Currently, the mileage stands at a tick under 40,000. It has been restored twice, and shown at Pebble Beach twice (in 1990 and 2010). It’s a matching numbers car and is thought to be one of six Murphy Town Cars. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Cadillac Town Car

1942 Cadillac Series 60 Special Town Car by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

At first glance, this car screams “owned by the head of a movie studio but never actually driven by that person.” Taking a step back and thinking about the larger story of the time, we see that America had just been attacked and that this was one of the final new cars built by Detroit prior to the war.

In fact, this car is one of just two Derham-bodied Town Cars on Cadillac’s Series 60 Special chassis for 1942. The engine is a 150 horsepower 5.7-liter V-8. The car started life as a Series 60 Special Imperial Sedan (which was a mid-range Caddy for ’42) and then it was shipped to Derham in Pennsylvania to be converted to this chauffeur’s machine you see here.

It was delivered new to someone in New York and the present owner acquired it in 1974 and restored it. It’s a fairly unique machine in that most Cadillacs were bodied in-house by this point – and most Post-War Cadillacs were too, making this the last of its kind. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $79,750.

Duesenberg SJ-553

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Car by Bohman & Schwartz

Offered by RM Auctions | Ft. Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done a write-up on a Duesenberg. This is an SJ, a factory supercharged example. What’s even better is that it has it’s original chassis, engine and body – there aren’t many SJs (or any Duesenbergs) that can say that.

The SJ was a supercharged version of the standard 6.9-liter straight-eight that pumps out a still-impressive 320 horsepower. The history of this car is interesting: it was a bare chassis sitting in a Duesenberg warehouse after the great clamor for these cars had passed. Designer Herb Newport of Bohman & Schwartz penned this body and the car was to be built for Mae West, who bought another Model J before this one was done.

Instead, this car was sold to Ethel Mars, of the Mars Candy Company. She was chauffeured around Chicago in this car for years. The car then had a string of Chicago-area owners into the 1960s before Bill Harrah got his hands on it. When his collection was dispersed, this car had a few more owners before RM sold it in 2007 for $4.4 million.

So how rare is this combo? Well, it’s a one-of-one design and it’s one of only 36 factory supercharged Model Js built (less than 30 remain). Only 10 have one-off bodies on an original SJ chassis. Bohman & Schwartz only bodied nine Duesenbergs and five of those were rebodies – making this one of four Bohman & Schwartz originals.

It has known ownership history since new and could top $5 million. Check out more here and see more from The Andrews Collection here.

Update: Sold $3,630,000.

Locomobile Model 48

1919 Locomobile Model 48 6-Fender Town Car

Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 3, 2012

Locomobile was one of the first big American automakers and the marque is a testament to the importance of the Stanley brothers in the history of the automobile. The publisher of Cosmopolitan magazine, John B. Walker, bought the design of the Stanley’s first steam car and put it into production. The Stanley brothers were General Managers until they left in 1902 to start Stanley, which would become Locomobile’s largest rival.

The Model 48 was introduced in 1911 and it had a wheelbase almost 30 inches longer than that of a modern Chevrolet Suburban. The 8.6-liter straight-six makes around 48 horsepower. Most of the powertrain components were cast in bronze and the chassis was made of chrome-nickel steel – which helps explain  why so few of these imposing automobiles survive to this day: scrap drives during the Second World War made these cars a lot more valuable in pieces than they did as a 20-something-year-old used car. This car was made using only the finest materials – the only thing, I guess, they could have done to make it even more over-the-top would have been to build it entirely out of gold and platinum – although it wouldn’t be quite so solid.

The body was built by Demarest and the layout is one you don’t see that often – a six-fendered town car. The fifth and six fenders sit just in front of the rear passenger compartment and I suppose exist to make each and every passenger feel a little like Cinderella being helped from her carriage. Bonhams claims that this car cost, when new, three times that of an open-bodied Model 48 – which I’ve read elsewhere would have cost around $10,000 in 1920 – which helps explain why Locomobile failed along with parent company Durant Motors at the onset of the Great Depression

This was about as grand a car as you could buy in 1919. And all of this grandeur will set you back somewhere between $60,000-$80,000. Which is a deal. For the complete description, click here. And for the rest of Bonhams’ lineup at the Greenwich Concours, click here.

Update: Sold $70,200.

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.