Duesenberg J-537

1935 Duesenberg Model J Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Well, this is the best body style on a Model J. LeBaron debuted the Dual Cowl Phaeton on the Model J, but Duesenberg’s in-house designer, Gordon Buehrig, tweaked the design a bit, and the “Sweep Panel” dual-cowl phaeton was born. The bodies were produced by “LaGrande,” which was the sort of pen name of the Union City Body Company, a Cord subsidiary.

It’s thought that just 15 of these were built by LaGrande, with this being the last. Power is from a 6.9-liter inline-eight rated at 265 horsepower. This car was used as a factory demonstrator in New York before being purchased by its first owner in 1936. That person was a 26-year-old heir to the Dow Jones publishing fortune. Must be nice.

It was restored for the first time circa 1970 and again around 2000. The car retains its original engine, body, and firewall. Model J-wise, this is about as good as they come (although I prefer more dramatic two-tone paint schemes). Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Hanomag 15 K Rekord

1935 Hanomag Type 15 K Rekord Convertible

Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | July 3, 2021

Photo – Dorotheum

Hanomag was a producer of heavy machinery and motorcars that was essentially founded in 1871 by Georg Egestoff as a company with a different name that produced steam engines. Automobile production lasted from 1925 through 1940, although commercial vehicles remained available until the 1970s.

The Type 15 was introduced in 1933 and was offered as a few different submodels, including the Record 15 K, which was produced from 1934 through 1936. Power is from a 1.5-liter inline-four that made 32 horsepower. A few body styles were offered, including a sedan and a convertible with a body from Ambi-Budd. That is what this car has.

They were not very common when new, and they are about as rare as they come today, especially the convertible variant. This one was restored over many years and is expected to sell for between $32,000-$46,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $54,148.

Duesenberg J-566

1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Sedan by Rollston

Offered by Bring a Trailer Auctions | Online | June 2021

Photo – Bring a Trailer Auctions

It seems like it’s been a while since we’ve featured a Model J. This Duesenberg is a late one, and it’s one of 10 “JN” models built in 1935. All 10 were bodied by Rollston, and this car is one of three that was built as a convertible sedan. It was restored in the late 1990s and has spent the last two decades in the collection of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

Power comes from a 420ci Lycoming straight-eight that made 265 horsepower when new. There were a number of four-door convertible body styles on Duesenbergs. The “convertible sedan” features folding B-pillars and a single front windshield. The top boot out back sticks up like a big spoiler in the air.

This is the fifth JN we’ve featured. I believe all still exist, meaning half of them have come up for public sale since 2012. This one has a week left to bid on, and you can find out more about it here.

Update: Sold $1,341,000.

500K Roadster by Windovers

1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Three-Position Roadster by Windovers

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | May 22, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

Mercedes-Benz offered a variety of factory body styles for their 500K touring car. These included sedans, various roadsters, and the very popular cabriolets. But there were outside coachbuilders that also put their personal touch on examples of this chassis. And this one is brilliant.

The 500K was sold between 1934 and 1936 before it was replaced by the 540K. It is powered by a supercharged 5.0-liter inline-eight that was rated at 160 horsepower with the supercharger engaged. Top speed was over 100 mph.

Only 41 500Ks were sold as bare chassis to be bodied by independent coachbuilders. This car features one-off coachwork from Windovers, a British coachbuilder. It’s a three-position roadster, meaning the top can be all the way up, all the way down, or at an awkward place in the middle.

The car was purchased by the current owner in 2006 and later restored. It has a real Count Trossi SSK vibe to it, which is awesome. No pre-sale estimate is available, but you can read more about it here. Check out more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,600,000.

Morris CS8

1935 Morris Commercial CS8

Offered by H&H Auctioneers | Duxford, U.K. | April 14, 2021

Photo – H&H Auctioneers

This thing is awesome. Let’s start with Morris Commercial, which was – as you’ve probably guessed – the commercial vehicle arm of British automaker Morris. It was founded in 1924 and was phased out during the British Leyland consolidation of the late 1960s.

The original CS8 was introduced in 1934 and used a 24-horsepower inline-six engine. They were built in every imaginable body style variant that the military could need. The big problem was that they were very heavy and only rear-wheel drive. Production lasted through 1942 when it was replaced by the 4×4 C4, which was in turn replaced by the popular C8 in 1944.

H&H describes this as the “finest example” they’ve ever encountered. I mean, I have never seen another one, but I can’t imagine there is a nicer one around. The pre-sale estimate is $55,000-$69,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Vauxhall Big Six BXL

1935 Vauxhall Big Six BXL Limousine by Grosvenor

Offered by Brightwells | Online | September 21, 2020

Photo – Brightwells

The creatively-named “Big Six” was Vauxhall’s big six-cylinder car that was offered between 1934 and 1940. The model was actually updated midway through its life cycle, and the second generation of the car went on sale in 1937.

The BX/BY, or first, series of the Big Six spawned a third variant: the long-wheelbase, coachbuilt BXL. This example carries a limousine body by the Grosvenor Carriage Company of London. Power is from a 3.2-liter inline-six that could push the large car to 72 mph.

Only 796 examples of the BXL were built, and this is one of nine known to still exist. It’s got suicide rear doors and a luxurious rear passenger compartment. The pre-sale estimate is $15,000-$18,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold (I think): $14,210.

Austin Hertford

1935 Austin 16/6 Hertford Saloon

Offered by H&H Auctioneers | Online Only | April 29, 2020

Photo – H&H Auctioneers

The Austin 16 was introduced in 1927 and evolved fairly significantly over a decade of production. This car, from near the end of the line, looks much different from the earlier cars. Dubbed the Sixteen Light Six, the cars were powered by a 2.2-liter inline-six that made 36 horsepower.

1935 models featured upgrades over preview years and could be had in one of four models. This five-passenger Hertford saloon was the least-expensive option. New features included a second gear synchro and a body-color radiator surround.

This car benefits from recent freshening and shows very well. Austin built 12,731 examples of the 16 between 1935 and 1937, and survivors aren’t all that common. This one should bring between $11,000-$13,500. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $10,949.

Phantom III Sedanca de Ville

1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca de Ville by Gurney Nutting

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 3, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

This car now makes the Phantom III the Rolls-Royce model we’ve featured most. Built between 1936 and 1939 (yes, this is listed as a 1935… perhaps it was a very early example titled based on the date it was constructed), the Phantom III wasn’t a huge seller. Only 727 units were built.

It’s powered by a 7.3-liter V12 and horsepower was, of course, adequate (okay it was more like 160). Every one of them was coachbuilt, and this car carries a very pretty Sedanca de Ville body from Gurney Nutting.

What’s so special about it? Just look at it. That color scheme… those swoopy front fenders… and those rear wheel skirts. It’s the complete package! It should sell for between $180,000-$230,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $176,146.

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.

Update: Sold $22,000,000.

Coachbuilt Plymouth

1935 Plymouth Deluxe Model PJ Cabriolet by Tüscher

Offered by Oldtimer Galerie | Zurich, Switzerland | June 16, 2018

Photo – Oldtimer Galerie

When you think coachbuilt classics of the 1930s, Plymouth is likely not the first brand that comes to mind. When Chrysler introduced the Plymouth brand in 1928, it was a budget brand – the entry point into the marketplace for the Chrysler Corporation.

The 1935 line was called the Model PJ and it was available in three trims: the Standard Six, the Business Six, and the Deluxe. There were nine body styles offered on the Deluxe trim. Some of them were quite common, and others quite rare. But for the day, they were all inexpensive.

This particular car found its way to Switzerland where it was bodied by Tüscher in Zurich (they’re still around, building bus bodies). This was not the only 1930s Plymouth that they turned into an opulent convertible, either. You have to admit, this car looks downright diplomatic. I don’t have the exact history of its use or ownership, but the catalog listing does say it was very expensive when new, so it probably went to someone special.

It’s powered by a 3.3-liter straight-six that makes 82 horsepower. The restoration looks fantastic and is 10 years old. It should bring between $86,000-$96,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.