Sports & Classics of Monterey

12-14 August 2010


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Lot 249

1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan

Sold for $693,000

265 bhp, 420 cu. in. OHC inline eight-cylinder engine, three-speed manual transmission, solid front axle and live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 142.5"

- From the estate of Mr. John M. O'Quinn

- Classic Model J Duesenberg

- Timeless Murphy coachwork

- Continuous history from new

The Duesenberg Model J was introduced at the New York Auto Salon on December 1st, 1928. It made headlines. The com¬bination of the Duesenberg reputation with the Model J’s grandeur and elegance made it the star of the show. Duesenberg ordered sufficient components to build 500 Model Js while continuing development to ensure its perfection. The first delivery came in May 1929, barely five months before Black Tuesday.

After the Model J’s introduction, Fred Duesenberg worked to make it even more powerful, applying his pet centrifugal supercharger to the Model J’s giant eight, just as he had done so successfully to his small racing engines. Fred died after a road accident in a Model J in 1932. Augie Duesenberg, until then independently and successfully building Duesenberg racing cars, was retained to put the final touches on the supercharged Model J. The result, the 320 hp “SJ,” was the holy grail of American luxury performance automobiles.

The effect of the Duesenberg J on America can’t be overstated. Even in the depths of the Depression, this paragon of power was a portent of prosperity. Duesenberg’s advertising became a benchmark, featuring the wealthy and privileged in opulent sur¬roundings with only a single line of copy: “He drives a Duesenberg” or “She drives a Duesenberg.” The external exhaust pipes of the supercharged models inspired generations of auto designers and remain – more than four score years later – a symbol of power and performance.

Car number 2363 was originally delivered to E.B. Henry of Detroit in August 1930. It bore a handsome convertible sedan body by Murphy of Pasadena, California. The Walter M. Murphy company had been formed in 1920, originally to body Lincolns, for which Mr. Murphy was the California distributor. Soon his shops were supplying bodies for Mercer, Packard, Mercedes-Benz, Minerva and Rolls-Royce chassis as well. Murphy employed some of the finest designers on the west coast: W. Everett Miller, George McQuerry, Jr., Franklin Hershey and Philip O. Wright. It was natural, then, that when the Duesenberg J was introduced, Murphy would clothe a number of examples. In fact, the Murphy company bodied more Js than any other coachbuilder.

When new, car 2363 was fitted with engine J331. Mr. Henry kept it for 16 years before selling it to Ken Seeley of Los Angeles. It is believed that Seeley exchanged the engine with that of car 2431 to the J420 it carries today. It then had two Hollywood owners, Gene Towne and William Thompson, followed by Dr. George Pearson of Los Angeles, who sold it to Nate Derus of Vista Del Mar in 1955.

Derus kept the car for 16 years before selling it to a Jack Finden, who kept it for some time himself. Later, it was owned by Mr. Gene Storms until the late 1970s when the car became part of the Imperial Palace Collection in Las Vegas. In the mid-nineties, it was acquired by the Atwell Collection of Fredericksburg, Texas, where it remained until being acquired by Mr. John O’Quinn.

An older restoration, this car retains a nice patina and has no major flaws. The tan leather interior looks its age but has no significant issues or flaws, and the damascened instrument panel is nicely detailed. The instruments are well restored, with the odometer showing just under 71,000 miles. The engine compartment is tidy, while the undercarriage is similarly presented. The car has been certified by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club with number D-150.

It appears stately on blackwall tires with exposed side-mounts. There is a tidy tan canvas top and matching trunk cover at the rear. While the car is in running condition, it has been part of a large collection and a thorough service is recommended prior to extensive road use. Of course, as a Model J Duesenberg, it affords the new owner membership in one of the most exclusive collector car circles in the world.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

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Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more