The Duesenberg Model SJ was to be one of the finest and fastest cars ever produced by the storied American luxury automobile manufacturer. Each of the J and SJ models were fitted with the straight-8 engine that had been designed by the Duesenberg brothers in the 1920s for motor racing.
This engine was decades ahead of its time, it featured twin overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and had a swept volume of 420 cubic inches (6.88 litres). The Model J was naturally aspirated and produced 265bhp – a staggering figure for any pre-WWII automobile, the Schwitzer-Cummins supercharged Model SJ was capable of 320bhp and could make the 0-60 dash in just 8 seconds.
Most who ordered a Duesenberg chose to have the rolling chassis bodied by a coachbuilder – still a common practice at the time, which gave owners the ability to specify every last detail of their automobile from bumper to bumper. Many Model Js were bodied in the USA and a fair number found their way across the Atlantic to Europe where they were bodied by the likes of Fernandez et Darrin, Franay, Gurney Nutting and Saoutchik.
Duesenberg released the Model J series in 1928, when the world was swinging to the sounds of Glenn Miller and it seemed like the good days were here to stay. Unfortunately the Great Depression was just around the corner, this dried up demand for cars of this calibre and resulted in only a few hundred being build – as opposed to the originally intended 500 per year.
On July 26 1932 Fred Duesenberg died of complications arising from pneumonia, resulting from the severe injuries he sustained in an accident while driving a Duesenberg Model SJ – a tragedy that would cause a ripple effect that would see the company eventually close and never recover.
The Model SJ you see here was the first of the SJs owned by Duesenberg company president Lucius B. Manning. He liked it so much that when he switched to a new car he had the original body removed and fitted over the new running gear, the now empty chassis was then re-bodied and sold before eventually finding its way into a private collection.
More recently the car had its original LaGrande Dual-Cowl Phaeton body recreated by respected craftsman Harold Orchard of California, accurate down to the last detail, thus finally bringing the Duesy back to the specification it enjoyed when it was originally delivered to Manning in 1928.
The car is due to be auctioned at the Motor City sale under the RM Sotheby’s banner on the 25th of July 2015, the estimated hammer price is between $850,000 and $1,100,000 USD – which is actually highly affordable for a Model SJ. If you’d like to read more about the car or register to bid you can click here.
Photo Credits: Darin Schnabel ©2015 Courtesy of RM Sothebys