Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Coupe

From its introduction, the mighty Duesenberg Model J has long been regarded as a true masterpiece of the Classic Era. In fact, the announcement of its long anticipated launch was accompanied by a trading halt on the New York Stock Exchange in 1929. Priced from $8,500 for the chassis alone, it was by far the most expensive car in America and when fitted with its coachwork, the delivered price of many Duesenberg models escalated to $20,000, a truly staggering sum at a time when the typical family car only cost around $500.

Nonetheless, few argued that the engineering excellence and abundant features of the Model J did not support its lofty price. Indeed, the Model J’s impressive mechanical specifications remain impressive today, including dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and power-assisted hydraulic brakes. Power output ranged from 265 horsepower in naturally aspirated form rising to 320 horsepower.

From the outset, the new Duesenberg chassis was tailor-made for the needs of the diverse yet robust custom coachbuilding industry of the era, with the power, strength and sheer presence to carry the most imposing yet elegant coachwork. With an abundance of lightweight aluminum components, weight was carefully managed, allowing the Model J to achieve truly staggering levels of performance while remaining quite docile and easy to drive at low speeds, thanks to accurate and surprisingly light steering and responsive, power-assisted hydraulic brakes. Despite some conjecture, Duesenberg’s power ratings were quite accurate indeed, supported by speeds of 89 miles per hour in second gear en route to a top speed approaching 116 miles per hour for the J, while the SJ could easily exceed 125 miles per hour.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August 2009 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

320 bhp, 420 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine with four valves per cylinder, dual overhead camshafts and Schwitzer-Cummins centrifugal supercharger, three-speed manual transmission, front beam axle, live rear axle, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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