Errett Loban Cord was the man responsible for the Duesenberg Model J. He had been unsuccessful in several business ventures before realizing his talents as a salesman. Cord joined the ailing Auburn Company and helped turn the company around. E.L. Cord capitalized upon Duesenberg's reputation as a prominent and successful builder of racing cars coupled with Fred Duesenberg's talents as an engineer.
The Model J made its debut at the 1928 New York Automobile Salon. It was constructed atop of a conventional leaf-sprung ladder type frame. Solid axles could be found in both the front and rear. The car was elegant, luxurious, and mechanically advanced. To help keep the car in the drivers control, 15-inch hydraulically operated drum brakes could be found on all four corners. Under the long and graceful hood was a 420 cubic-inch double-overhead camshaft engine that was capable of producing over 260 horsepower. the power was sent to the rear wheels through a three-speed manual gearbox.
Top coachbuilders of the time were tasked with creating the custom bodies for these vehicles. Names such as Murphy, LeBaron, Castagna, Hibbard & Darrin, and Franay and Brunn were given the opportunity to sculpture a body on the 142.5- or 153.5-inch chassis. The cost of owning one was very steep; the cost of a rolling chassis was about $8500 which was well above the cost of most automobiles at the time. The body would drive that figure even further.
Chassis number 2550 is one of only three Model J's with a Riviera Phaeton body by Brunn. It was the first four-door convertible to have a fold down top that could be completely concealed when folded. When the top was lowered, the rear body section could be tilted back to allow the top to fold and be stowed away.
This car is believed to have been constructed near the close of 1933. Since new, the car has had several owners. The original engine is believed to have been J521 but has since been replaced with J440. It has been treated to a comprehensive restoration since new. It was disassembled to its bare chassis with all of the mechanical components being rebuilt and properly finished. During the rebuild, it was brought back to its factory condition.
This car was offered for sale at the 2006 Gooding & Company Auction held in Pebble Beach. It was estimated to sell for $1,000,000 - $1,400,000. All of the proceeds from the sale of this vehicle went to the Ministrelli Women's Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Michigan. It was offered without reserve.
Since there was no reserve placed on the vehicle, the winning bidder has the potential to walk away from the sale with an offer lower than the vehicles estimated value. However, the vehicle was sold within the estimated value, selling for $1,210,000.
Conceived and executed to be superlative in all respects, the Model J was introduced at the New York Auto Salon on December 1, 1928. It was powered by a straight-eight engine with double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Displacing 420 cubic-inches, the motor made 265 horsepower. This was later increased to 320 horsepower for the Model SJ, thanks to a centrifugal supercharger.
The new Duesenberg was tailor-made for the custom body industry. While most of the leading coachbuilders clothed the mighty J, many modern observers believe it was Brunn & Company who best combined exceptional design with outstanding build quality. One of the most remarkable designs of the era was its Riviera Phaeton body, a convertible sedan with a completely disappearing top that stowed in a compartment hinged at the rear bumper. It is that very coachwork that this example is fitted with.
Because this Duesenberg was one of only three Model J's fitted with a Riviera Phaeton body by Brunn, it is likely that this was the car built in late 1933 as the 1934 show car. This model was the first four-door convertible to have its top completely concealed when folded; the rear body section tilted back, allowing the top to be folded and then concealed once that rear section was lowered.Also photographed at :