Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton

After the landmark introduction of the majestic Duesenberg Model J on December 1st, 1928 at the New York Auto Salon, Fred Duesenberg immediately set to work at making it even more powerful. His favorite centrifugal-type supercharger was beautifully adapted to the Model J’s giant eight, just as he had done so successfully to his 122-cubic inch racing eights a decade earlier. Fred died in a Model J accident in 1932, and his brother Augie, until then independently and very successfully building racecars, was retained to put the final touches on the supercharged Duesenberg. Without a doubt, the resulting SJ marked the pinnacle of American luxury automobiles. Even today, it remains unparalleled in concept and execution.

The SJ delivered 320 horsepower at speed while retaining the outstanding naturally aspirated performance of the J at lower rpm. Alone among the Duesenberg Js, only the SJ embodied the input of both Duesenberg brothers. Just 36 SJs were produced, and conversion of a standard J to SJ specification was no small job, as the engine had to be completely disassembled to fit stronger valve springs, high-performance tubular connecting rods and other specific components. Since the SJ required external exhaust manifolds to accommodate the supercharger under its hood, the giant chromed flexible exhaust pipes became its signature feature.

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. While most of the leading coachbuilders of the day bodied the mighty J, many modern observers believe that Brunn & Company best combined exceptional design with outstanding build quality.

One of the most remarkable designs of the classic era, Brunn’s Riviera Phaeton was both beautiful and practical. Although a convertible sedan by function, it was cleverly engineered and brilliantly styled, with most experts agreeing that the Riviera was the best-looking four-door convertible offered on the Duesenberg chassis.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

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

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel 

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