In 1900, Iowa bicycle makers August and Fred Duesenberg began playing with gasoline engines and in 1906, began to manufacture cars. Their company failed, but they developed an engine that did well in the Indianapolis 500. During World War I, they built aircraft engines for the military and after the war they used this experience to design their famous straight-eight engine which they used in a new car. Their company became part of E.L. Cord's empire in 1926.
Cord gave the Duesenberg brothers carte blanche to build the finest car in the world and the result was the Model J in 1928. It featured a 420 cubic-inch, straight eight-cylinder engine producing 265 horsepower, more than double that of any other contemporary car. The chassis sold for $8,500 and the buyer had to spend another $2,500 to $8,000 for a custom body.
The Duesenberg Model J, with engine number J-129, is a Phaeton Sweep-Panel riding on a short-wheelbase. The car was originally owned by John Duval Dodge, the son of Matilda Dodge. It is believed that this example is the only Duesenberg sold in the city of Detroit.
Introduced at the December 1928 New York Automobile Salon the Duesenberg Model J quickly established itself as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the luxury grand tourer world. The LeBaron Dual Cowl Phaeton was one of the best and most luxurious bodies that could be built upon this chassis. LeBaron Carrossiers was founded in 1920 by Thomas L. Hibbard and Raymond Dietrich in New York City. They chose the LeBaron name because it sounded French and would lend a sophisticated air. They also chose to have only a design office, without coachbuilding facilities. This changed in 1927 when the company merged with the Briggs coachbuilding company and began building bodies. The chief designer of this and many other Duesenberg Js was John Tjaarda, father of Tom Tjaarda, who is a renowned designer in his own right.Also photographed at :