Duesenberg J-143

1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, bodied more Duesenberg Model Js than any other coachbuilder, and their most popular body style was this, the convertible coupe. While only 25 were built with a convertible soft top, that was enough to make it the top seller among a very limited production run.

Power, of course, is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight good for 265 horsepower. This car is apparently one of a few Duesenbergs owned by gangster Jake the Barber. It was restored in 1995 and was purchased by the current owner, Keith Crain, about 16 years ago.

Crain is dumping a few classics at this sale, all at no reserve… which is interesting. You can see more about this car here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,132,500.

Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe

1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Marmon of Indianapolis introduced their Sixteen model in 1931. It was their top-of-the-line model that year, sitting alongside three different eight-cylinder models. In 1932 the Sixteen was offered alongside a single eight-cylinder model. 1933 was Marmon’s last and the brilliant Sixteen was the only model you could get.

There haven’t been many sixteen cylinder cars in history. Cadillac’s V-16 was the chief rival for this car, as were cars like the Duesenberg Model J. The engine here is an 8.0-liter V-16 that makes 200 horsepower. That kind of power aimed it squarely at the Model J. In 1931, a Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe would set you back $5,300. A Model J would’ve cost $9,500 as a bare chassis. The body was extra.

This particular car was purchased by Bill Harrah and restored in the 1960s. It’s next owner didn’t acquire the car until 1987 and the current owners bought it from him. It still sports Harrah’s restoration, a testament to the quality of work he pursued for his cars. Fewer than 400 Marmon Sixteens were built and eight with with this body style are known to exist. They do not change hands often. It should bring between $1,000,000 and $1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of the lots in this sale.

Update: Sold $962,000.

Duesenberg J-417

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017

Photo – Auctions America

Does this Duesenberg look a little like a… Cadillac? If you think so, there’s a good reason: this car was bodied by Fleetwood, as in the Fleetwood Metal Body Company. Founded in 1909, Fleetwood built bodies for many companies in its early days. But in 1925 it was acquired by Fisher and it became part of General Motors in 1931. A lot of Cadillacs bodied after 1931 wore Fleetwood bodies much like this one.

In fact, this is the second Fleetwood body that this car wore. The original owner swapped out the first body for this one, which he lifted from a Cadillac V-16. It wasn’t the only thing he changed, this chassis is currently on its third engine, J-417. The 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight that originally powered this chassis racked up 200,000 miles before being replaced. A second engine came and went as well. This car was used and enjoyed and didn’t find its second owner until the late 1950s.

Since then it has had a few other owners and was restored about 30 years ago. It’s a unique Model J with known history from new (the first owner ordered the car from Fred Duesenberg on the New York Auto Show stand in 1929). It should bring between $950,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $990,000.

Duesenberg J-386

1933 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Bohman & Schwartz

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

Doesn’t this just look like a classic Hollywood-owned car from the 1930s? It is. It was purchased new by Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler and she had a LeBaron Convertible Sedan body fitted to it. She didn’t own it long before it was acquired by producer/director Roy Del Ruth, who took it to Pasadena to have Bohman & Schwartz (the duo that sprang up when Murphy went out of business in 1932) put this awesome body on it.

This is the only Bohman & Schwartz-bodied Convertible Coupe on a LWB Model J chassis. From the side, the car looks gigantic. Most of the LWB cars had big Phaeton bodies on them… not the two-door convertible type. It’s incredibly imposing. It is powered by a 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine.

There are only six LWB Convertible Coupe Model Js in general, making this pretty much one of one (which most Model Js were anyway). Bohman & Schwartz only bodied 14 Duesenbergs and 10 of those 14 consisted of modifying existing coachwork. It has been part of the Harrah Collection, the Blackhawk Collection and has resided in the Imperial Palace Collection as well. It’s a fantastic example of 1930s automotive elegance and excellence. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $3,600,000.

Update: Not sold, Mecum Indianapolis 2017, high bid of $3,000,000.

Update: Sold, Mecum Monterey 2018, $3,850,000.

Duesenberg J-414

1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe by Murphy

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

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

We should all know by now that cars don’t get better than Duesenberg Model Js. The Walter M. Murphy Company was the most prolific body supplier for the Model J and their Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe is one of the most popular body styles. But this is a little different.

This is a Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe. That means it is a convertible where the top is completely hidden when retracted and it has a pinched rear end like a boattail speedster. It even has a one-passenger rumble seat. It’s an awesome combination of design. And as this is a Model J, the 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight is standard.

This car originally was fitted with engine number J-178 but that engine was removed from the car at some point (likely in the 1940s as a source for parts). In the 1950s, the new owner acquired engine J-414 and put it in this car – that’s why the engine number is so high and the model year is so early. The body work had slight updates in the late-1930s to the “JN” style.

This car has been with its present owners for over 20 years. It is one of six Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupes ever built and one of four to actually still have their original coachwork. They never come up for sale and it should be pricey. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Sold $3,000,000.

Update: Sold, RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2021, $5,725,000. Updated look below.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby;s

Duesenberg J-345

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 16-17, 2013

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ 345 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Auctions in Monterey spell “Duesenberg time!” This is a supercharged Model J – or, unofficially, an “SJ.” This, the opening paragraph, would also be a nice place to tell you that there is another subject of which I have a major interest. And that is: the early days of 20th Century organized crime. Why is that an important detail? Read on.

I’ll start by saying that this is not an original SJ – the supercharger was added in the late-1970s when it was restored. That said, the 6.9-liter straight eight makes 320 horsepower with the supercharger.

The car was purchased new by William Collins – who ran in the New York underworld and of whom I’ve heard nothing about. He was killed the day after he bought it. It was then bought by Mickey Duffy – one of the biggest bootleggers in Philadelphia. Fans of Boardwalk Empire: the character of Mickey Doyle is based on Mickey Duffy. From Duffy (who died in 1931), the car was next owned by Owney Madden – another famous bootlegger and owner of the Cotton Club.

He sold it in 1931 and that’s where this car’s history with the mob ends. It passed from owner to owner over the years – and in 1953 it was listed for sale for only $150! It was restored in the 1980s and has been carefully pampered since. Only 27 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupes were built by the prolific Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. This one should sell for between $2,000,000-$2,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in California.

Update: Did not sell (high bid of $1,850,000)

Duesenberg J-530

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Coupe by Walker-LaGrande

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 9, 2013

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ 530 Convertible Coupe by Walker LaGrande

This awesome – and awesome is the correct word – Duesenberg Model J is actually an SJ – it has a factory supercharged engine. But it is not the original engine for this car. Let me try and trace this out…

Engine J-530 has an origin I am unfamiliar with. This car is on chassis 2405, which originally had a very cool Rollston Town Car body on it. This incredible Walker-LaGrande Convertible Coupe body was originally on chassis 2563. The bell housing is from engine J-515, the engine that was originally with this body on 2563. So at some point in time, the Rollston Town Car body disappeared and this body was separated from its original chassis. The body and bell housing came with it and was put on chassis 2405. Engine J-530 was brought in to get the thing running. And remember: this is the supercharged 320 horsepower version.

The Walker-LaGrande body is one of three like it built and the only one with a supercharger on it. It’s actually one of only seven bodies built for Duesenbergs by Walker-LaGrande in total. This car was delivered new to a banker in Chicago before going through the hands of several well-known collectors. Among Model Js, this is one of the big ones. It should sell for between $3,500,000-$5,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $4,510,000.

Duesenberg J-429

1933 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by Gooding & Co. | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2013

1933 Duesenberg Model J-429 Disappearing-Top Converibly Coupe by Murphy

I’m not sure why, but every exterior photo available of this car was taken at ground level, so you really can’t see how grand the rear of this car is from above. How slick and sloped it is – no evidence of a top whatsoever. Which is why it’s called a “Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe.” It completely stows away under the bodywork.

Underneath are the standard Model J mechanicals – a 265 horsepower straight-eight Lycoming engine of 6.9-liters. And this is a numbers-matching car. It has the actual engine, chassis and bodywork that were all packaged together way back in 1933.

This was one of the last cars bodied by Murphy before they closed and they did it in high-style – the Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe being atop the list of desirable Duesenberg bodystyles for many people.  It was two Murphy employees (a designer and the general manager) who came up with the idea that the convertible top could be stowed away out of sight. What a fantastic idea it was – and the execution of it was perfect.

This car bounced around between owners early in its life before coming into the hands of the Bob Estes, who owned it for 40 years. It has had three owners since 2001 and was restored to perfection about 10 years ago. This is an exceptional car and it can be yours for between $2,000,000-$2,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding in Scottsdale.

Update: Sold $2,659,000.

The Chrysler 300 Letter Series

1955-1963 Chrysler 300

Offered by RM Auctions | North Palm Beach, Florida | December 1, 2012


1955 Chrysler C-300 Hardtop Coupe

The John Staluppi Collection, also known as the Cars of Dreams Museum, is a very large collection of American cars of the 1950s and 60s (mostly). Well, the whole thing is going under the hammer at no reserve on December 1st. I really like Chrysler 300s and I wanted to feature one – but I couldn’t choose just one because there are a number of them – nine of them to be exact. So I’m going to show them all to you – in one post. They are the “Letter Series” cars – every year Chrysler tweaked the design and changed the letter at the end of the “300.”

This was the first of them, the 1955 C-300. Technically, Chrysler built it to dominate NASCAR, which it did, but they had to build road cars too. It uses a 5.4-liter V8 making 300 horsepower, hence the name. Only 1,725 were built. Estimate: $75,000-$100,000. For more info, click here.

Update: Sold $88,000.


1956 Chrysler 300B Hardtop Coupe

This is my favorite of the 300 Letter Series cars. The look is a little refined from 1955 and power was up – the 5.8-liter V8 making 340 horsepower (or 355, depending on which engine option you chose). It was the most powerful car produced in the U.S. These are even rarer, with only 1,102 built. Estimate: $100,000-$125,000. More info here.

Update: Sold $115,500.


1957 Chrysler 300C Convertible Coupe

The 1957 edition of the 300 was the 300C. Offered in convertible form for the first time, Chrysler managed to move 2,402 of them – 1,918 coupes and 484 convertibles. The engine increased in size, to 6.4-liters and it pumped out 375 horsepower, again the most you could get in an American car. Estimate: $150,000-$200,000. More info can be found here.

Update: Sold $154,000.


1958 Chrysler 300D Convertible

The 1958 300D was the last of the series to use the FirePower Hemi engine – again at 6.4-liters and tuned to 380 horsepower. A special run of 35 cars were built with fuel injection and 390 horsepower. Production was way down, with only 809 being built – 618 hardtops and 191 convertibles. Estimate: $175,000-$200,000. More info here.

Update: Sold $198,000.


1959 Chrysler 300E Convertible Coupe

The 1959 300E was powered by Chrysler’s “Golden Lion” wedge-head V8. It was 6.8-liters in capacity but still made about 380 horsepower. Production sank even further to just 647 cars – 522 coupes and 125 convertibles. Are you watching the styling evolve as you scroll down this post? I am. Estimate: $150,000-$200,000. Check out more on this car here.

Update: Sold $176,000.


1960 Chrysler 300F Convertible

The 1960 300F again used the 6.8-liter V8. It produced 375 horsepower. A special run of “short ram” cars (15 were built) made 400 horsepower and used the transmission from the Facel-Vega. Production numbers rose for this model, which had a sort of intermediate styling between the 1959 and 1961 models – 1,217 were built, 969 were coupes and 248 were convertibles. Estimate: $175,000-$225,000. More info can be found here.

Update: Sold $170,500.


1961 Chrysler 300G Convertible Coupe

I really like the styling here. The front headlights remind me of the cat eye horn-rimmed style eyeglasses of the period. The engine was a carryover from 1960 and production increased again to 1,617. Of these, 1,280 were coupes and only 337 were convertibles. There was also another run of “short ram” cars making 400 horsepower. Estimate: $140,000-$180,000. More info here.

Update: Sold $137,500.


1962 Chrysler 300H Convertible Coupe

The front-end styling remained almost the same, but the fins disappeared for 1962. This was also the first year for the non-letter series Chrysler 300 (that is just “300” without a letter and referred to as the “Sport Series”, which was available with two or four doors). Styling differences between the two separate 300 models were non-existent. It was under hood where the difference lay. Power on the 6.8-liter V8 was back up to 380 and there were a few cars sold with a high-output 405 horsepower option. Production dropped significantly now that there was a cheaper alternative that looked the same. Only 570 were built, 435 coupes and 135 convertibles. Estimate: $60,000-$80,000. More info can be had here.

Update: Sold $74,250.


1963 Chrysler 300 Sport Series Convertible Coupe

Well this the last 300 offered from the Staluppi Collection and it is not a Letter Series car – although the Letter Series continued in 1963 with the “J”, 1964’s “K”, 1965’s “L”, the 1970 Hurst 300 and the 1979 300. The 1963 300J was not available in convertible form. But the 1963 Sport Series was. It was also available as a 4-door hardtop, sedan and 2-door hardtop. The Sport Series convertible still used a 6.8-liter V8 but it only put out 305 horsepower. Production was much higher – 1,535 300 Sport Series Convertibles were built  in 1963 while only 400 300Js were built in total. Needless to say, if you want to pick up most of the run of 300 Letter Series cars, then this is the sale for you. Estimate: $60,000-$75,000. You can read more here and check out more from RM’s sale of the Cars of Dreams Museum here.

Update: Sold $71,500.

Duesenberg J-108

1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 18, 2012

This early Model J was the first one ordered from Duesenberg as a chassis-only. It was purchased by the wife of a department store owner in Los Angeles who also owned a handful of Model A Duesenbergs. The chassis was shipped to California where it was delivered to the Walter M. Murphy Company in Pasadena to be bodied.

Murphy built the Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe to the owner’s specifications, including the white paint that covers both the body and the chassis (a somewhat angelic touch, I guess). A couple of owners later, the car was restored by Fran Roxas in 2010, having covered a mere 73 miles since.

Although the fact that we’re featuring a boatload of these cars, it should be remembered that some Model Js may never come up for sale. They have become museum pieces. Especially if they hold a certain distinction. This is a chance to own a very early Model J. A chance that doesn’t happen all too often. The price was estimated between $1,800,000-$2,400,000. The complete description is here.

Update: Sold $1,897,500.

Update: Sold, Gooding & Co., Monterey 2013, $2,365,000.