Duesenberg Model J LWB Dual Cowl Phaeton

While scores of superlative automobiles have graced the world since the dawn of the motor car, precious few have generated new words for our lexicon. Today, the Duesenberg Model J, affectionately nicknamed the “Duesey,” continues to represent anything truly great or grand, regardless of the chosen spelling. Bankrolled by E.L. Cord and designed from the outset to be the world’s finest car, the Model J debuted at the New York Auto Salon on December 1, 1928, where its launch dominated newspaper headlines and halted trading on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. In short, from introduction to the present, the Model J marks the crowing achievement of the Classic Era.

While brothers Fred and Augie Duesenberg are remembered best for creating the immortal Model J, their reputations had already been forged and tested in the heat of competition. As a result, their highly advanced racing technology found its way into all their road cars, with specifications making competitors’ offerings dated in comparison and remaining surprisingly current even by today’s standards. In particular and most obvious, the Model J’s dual-overhead cam inline eight-cylinder engine, a visually impressive 420-cubic inch unit, developed 265 bhp in normally aspirated form and featured a free-breathing, four-valve cylinder head.

Despite the Model J’s massive proportions, with its short-wheelbase chassis measuring 142½ inches and the long one 153½ inches, extensive use of lightweight heat-treated aluminum parts and components provided significant weight savings and preserved the car’s commanding performance. Other remarkable Model J features included a fully automatic chassis-lubricating system that operated every 30 to 60 miles, Fred Duesenberg’s excellent two-shoe hydraulic drum brakes and complete instrumentation including a 150-mph speedometer, tachometer, altimeter, an eight-day clock with a split-second stopwatch hand and more.

Duesenberg ordered sufficient components to build 500 Model Js, while continuing development to ensure the model’s close approximation to automotive perfection. The first delivery came in May 1929, barely five months before Black Tuesday. Priced from $8,500 in 1929 and increased to $9,500 for 1931, the bare Model J chassis included the fenders, bumpers, Delco shock absorbers and six wire-spoke wheels, with two mounted in the front fender wells. The finest materials were used throughout, and fit and finish were performed to impeccable standards. Each chassis was tested at Indianapolis over 100 miles at high speed without bodywork, and once released it was cloaked with stunning open or closed bodywork by the world’s finest bespoke coachbuilders. Among them, many associate LeBaron’s dual cowl phaeton bodywork most closely with the mighty J, epitomized by the example offered here, the only such car built upon the long-wheelbase chassis.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona.

265 bhp, 420 cu. in. DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder, three-speed manual transmission, front beam axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 153.5".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright ACME Photo

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