12-14 August 2010
1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan
Sold for $693,000
- 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.
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