Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe
The Model J Duesenberg has long been regarded as the most outstanding example of design and engineering of the Classic Era. Introduced in 1929, trading was halted on the New York Stock Exchange for the announcement. At $8,500 for the chassis alone, it was by far the most expensive car in America. With coachwork, the delivered price of many Duesenbergs approached $20,000, a staggering sum at a time when a typical new family car cost around $500.
Few would argue that the car’s features did not support its price. Indeed, the Model J’s specifications sound current today: double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, power hydraulic brakes, and 265 hp in naturally aspirated form – or 325 bhp when supercharged.
The new Duesenberg was tailor-made for the custom body industry. It had the power and stance to carry imposing coachwork, and the style and grace of the factory sheet metal was ideally suited for the execution of elegant custom coachwork. The Murphy Body Company of Pasadena, California is generally recognized as the most successful coachbuilder on the Duesenberg Model J chassis.
Associated initially with Packards, Murphy-built bodies suited the California tastes of the time. They were simple and elegant, with trim lines and an undeniable sporting character.
Murphy bodies seemed even more revolutionary when compared to their contemporaries from the East coast, who built heavier, more ornate designs.
The trademark of Murphy body design was the “clear vision” pillar. On the convertible coupe, the windshield pillars were designed to be as slim as possible, creating a sportier, more open appearance while improving visibility for the driver. In fact, Murphy advertised that their windshield pillars were “narrower than the space between a man’s eyes,” a design they claimed eliminated blind spots.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in October of 2010 at the Hershey Lodge, Hershey, Pennsylvania.
420 cu. in. inline eight-cylinder engine with hemispherical combustion chambers, four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts, three-speed synchromesh manual transmission, front suspension via semi-elliptic leaf springs and beam axle, rear suspension via semi-elliptic leaf springs and live rear axle, and vacuum-assisted, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5".
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Simon Clay and Darin Schnabel