Duesenberg Model J Sport Berline

The story of the Model J begins in 1925, when Errett Lobban Cord added the Duesenberg Motors Company to his rapidly growing enterprise, the Auburn Automobile Company. Cord’s vision was to create an automobile that would surpass the great marques of Europe and America. Cadillac, Isotta Fraschini, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza were his targets, and Duesenberg was his chosen instrument.

The new Duesenberg’s introduction on December 1, 1928 at the New York Auto Salon was front page news. The combination of the Duesenberg reputation with the Model J’s grand concept and execution made it the star of the show and, indeed, of the year. Duesenberg ordered enough components to build 500 Model Js while development continued for six months after the Model J’s introduction. The first customer delivery came in May 1929, barely five months before Black Tuesday.

The effect of the Duesenberg J on America cannot be minimized. Even in the misery of the Depression, this paragon of power illustrated the continued existence of wealth and the upper class. Duesenberg’s advertising became a benchmark, featuring the wealthy and privileged in opulent surroundings with only a single line of copy: “He drives a Duesenberg.” The outside exhaust pipes inspired generations of auto designers and remain, 60 years later, a symbol of power and performance. “She’s a real Duesy” still means a slick, quick, smooth and desirable possession of the highest quality.

Duesenbergs were expensive cars, and only men or women of means could afford them. At a time when a perfectly good new family sedan could be purchased for $500 or so, a coachbuilt Duesenberg often cost $20,000 or more. If a full size sedan sold for $25,000 today, that is the equivalent of more than $1 million now. Such extravagance was born of an era of unbridled capitalism – a time when a man with vision and ability could make, and keep, a fortune of staggering size.

These were the men who could afford the very best, and there was absolutely no doubt that when it came to automobiles, E. L. Cord’s magnificent Duesenberg was the best that money could buy. And as we will see, George Whittell, Jr. was a man who was accustomed to nothing less.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in March of 2010 at the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida.

265 bhp, 420 cu. in. four valves per cylinder twin overhead camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed transmission, leaf spring and beam axle front suspension, leaf spring and live axle rear suspension, vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulically-actuated drum brakes. Wheelbase: 153"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and ACME Photo

Be part of something big