1933 Duesenberg Model SJ news, pictures, specifications, and information
Widely known as 'Twenty Grand', reflecting its 1932 selling price, this supercharged Duesenberg with chassis number 2539 and engine J-513, was designed by Gordon Buehrig as a show car for the Chicago Century of Progress Exposition of 1933-1934. This graceful one-off closed-coupled design is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful Duesenbergs built.
The current owners acquired this Duesenberg in 1978. Before undertaking a restoration, Mr. Buehring and former Duesenberg president Harold Ames were both consulted to ensure an accurate restoration. The car emerged from the shop at San Sylmar exactly as it appeared the day it left the factory for the World's Fair. Since that time, this wheeled sculpture has resided in the Grand Salon of the Nethercutt Collection in Sylmar, California.
Chassis Num: 2577
Engine Num: SJ528
Sold for $1,320,000 at 2005 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,430,000 at 2010 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,595,000 at 2015 RM Auctions
This 1933 Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton (SJ528), one of only 36 SJs produced, was purchased in June of 1934 by Lt. Col. Jacob Schick, best known for the invention of the cartridge-style Schick Razor and the first electric 'dry razor.' Schick kept the car for two years before trading it in on a new car. The second owner was C.H. Oshei of Detroit, Michigan who purchased the car in October of 1936. Oshei traded J107, a LaGrande dual-cowl phaeton, in the transaction.
Oshei sold SJ528 in 1941 to a Chicago-area Duesenberg dealer named John Troka, who resold the car to A.E. Sullivan of Rockford, Illinois. Sullivan sold the car to Margarite Feuer, of Rockford, Illinois, who kept it only a short while before selling it to a musician named Vaughn. In the late 1940s, Vaughn sold the car back to Troka. While in Troka's care, the supercharger was removed and used for another project. The car was then sold to Art Grossman of Chicago, Illinois. Grossman intended to undertake a restoration but instead sold the car in April 1950 to Harry Schultzinger of Cincinnati, Ohio, who immediately began restoring the car.
During the restoration process, Schultzinger replaced the frame with one from J551 (frame number 2577). The rest of SJ528 remained intact, including the engine, body, drivetrain components, etc. Schultzinger gave SJ528 a number of 'improvements,' including the installation of a five-speed transmission from a truck, 17-inch wheels, and an engine rebuild using components from J467.
Schultzinger kept the car for many years before selling it to Dr. Don Vesley of Louisiana in 1975. The car was sold in 1983 to a Florida collector named Rick Carroll, who undertook a second restoration, this time in red, and reinstalled an original supercharger, transmission and 19-inch wheels.
Bob Bahre of Oxford, Maine purchased the car sometime in 1986. Later, in 1988, Phoenix, Arizona-based dealer Leo Gephardt advertised the car for sale, before it passed on to the late Noel Thompson, a prominent New Jersey collector. Thompson sold the car to the Imperial Palace, where it was prominently featured in the Duesenberg Room for many years before Dean Kruse of Auburn, Indiana acquired it as part of a multiple-car purchase in 1999.
The next owner commissioned the car's third – and most comprehensive – restoration. The 'nut-and-bolt' restoration was done by Fran Roxas and included a bare-metal strip and every mechanical component was completely rebuilt or refurbished as necessary and completely refinished.
The car was finished in multiple coasts of black paint. The interior is trimmed in tobacco brown leather and there is a matching Haartz cloth top.
In early 2005, the car was acquired by the O'Quinn Collection. The next care taker purchased the car in 2010 at the RM Auction in Monterey, California.
Just three of these Brunn Riviera Phaetons are known to have been built, and SJ528 is one of a handful original-bodied supercharged Model J's remaining today. The convertible sedan body by Brunn allows the entire rear body to open, hinged at the bumper, revealing a compartment into which the top can be lowered and placed completely hidden from site.
At the first annual Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's in suburban Detroit, Michigan (formerly known as the Meadow Brook Concours), SJ528 took home top honors, winning Best of Show for the American cars.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2011
Chassis Num: 2540
Engine Num: J510
Sold for $1,688,500 at 2008 RM Auctions
This 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Phaeton with coachwork by La Grande has chassis number 2540 and engine number J510. It possesses the sought-after eight-cylinder supercharged engine which promises 320 horsepower. In July of 1933 it was tested by the Duesenberg test driver, Mr. Lange, before being acquired by Mr. Ben E. Smith, Sr. of the brokers Hutton & Company in New York. It is one of only three supercharged phaetons built by La Grande and each rested comfortably on the longer wheelbase, measuring 153.5-inches. In total, there were fourteen La Grande Phaetons built, including the short wheelbase and non-supercharged cars. In modern times, only eight are known to exist. Only 18 long wheelbase supercharged cars of all bodystyles and from all coachbuilders were produced.
This is the second of the three LWB cars built. It is a five passenger phaeton with an accessory rear windscreen.
By 1944, the car was taken by Mr. Smith's son, Ben E. Smith, Jr., to Mexico where it was given to Bruno Paglie, the manager of the Hipodromo built by Smith in Mexico City. In 1950, the car was acquired by a used car dealer named Valentine G. Melgarejo. It remained in his possession for the following 18 years. William J. Metta of Alabama became the vehicles next care-taker, who is believed to have partially restored the car.
The next owner was a dealer based in Wisconsin, named James Southard, in 1975. It was quickly sold to Thomas S. Gene Storms who purchased a Leo Gephardt reproduction supercharged in 1979. The car would remain in California until it was brought to auction in 2008. The current owner acquired the car in the mid-1980s.
The car is painted in dark red with a cream sweep panel and reveal. There is a tan Haartz cloth top and tan leather interior. It is believed that the car has been driven 31,400 miles to date. It is well equipped with dual driving lights, cowl lights, rear-mounted trunk, dual side-mounted spare wheels and tires with hard covers and side-view mirrors.
In 2008 this car was brought to the 2nd Annual Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey presented by RM Auctions where it was estimated to sell for $1,800,000 - $2,400,000. It was the highlight of the auction and the most anticipated sale of the evening. Bidding reached 1,425,000 but stalled. The car was rolled off the stage and listed as a no-sale. Later that evening, the car was sold for $1,688,500 including buyer's premium.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
This Duesenberg Model SJ was originally constructed in 1933 in a convertible bodystyle that was a popular choice at the time. It was both sporty and elegant. This vehicle has unique non-whitewall tires. The interior is finished in red while the exterior is black. On both sides of the car are side mounted spare tires. This car was on display at the 2007 Eastern Concours of the United States.By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2011
Duesenberg introduced the Model SJ in 1932; SJ denoting a supercharged version of the magnificent Duesenberg straight-eight that produced an incredible 320 horsepower .... 55 horsepower more than its normally aspirated brother. Just 36 SJ chassis were produced between 1932 and 1937 at an average cost of $1,000, making the SJ a $9,500 investment...before the owner spent a single cent on its custom body! This was a 120 mph car in an era when cars could barely reach 80 mph. The stunning coachwork is by the Walter M. Murphy of Pasadena, California, which built more bodies on Duesenberg chassis than any other coachbuilder; a total of 144. Murphy's clientele read like Hollywood's 'Who's Who', list including Mark Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Tom Mix and Bronco Billy, Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, novelist Zane Gray, publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, and Im studio owners Hal Roach and Howard Hughes.
Seen by many as the most beautiful closed Duesenberg design, the Beverly sedan by the Walter M. Murphy Co. of Pasadena is truly an elegant blend of closed coachwork with the massive Duesenberg chassis Armchair seating, rear seat instrumentation, and unique art deco window designs are just a few of the features that grace this car. Just over 400 Duesenberg Model Js and SJs were built between 1928 and 1937.
This 1933 Duesenberg (SJ-512) is one of only 45 Duesenbergs produced with a factory-installed supercharger. This rare model SJ was first ordered by Powell Crosley, who resided in Cincinnati, Ohio, and made his fortune in radio and electronics during the 1920s. He took delivery July 1, 1933. Of the 45 Model SJs produced, only five of these were sold with enclosed bodies. This model sports a unique, highly placed and radically embossed belt line which drops down after the windshield. It is further highlighted by a small but dramatic triangular window that is located between the windshield and A-pillar. Unlike some, the model SJ-512 has always retained its original engine and its body has not been replaced or altered.
This 1933 Derham Convertible Sedan Speedster was sold new to H.G. Liebhardt in Denver, Colorado, at a cost of $17,000. The car was sold to Bill Harrah of Reno, Nevada, who in 1960, had Schwartz of Pasadena, California, restore and built the coachwork presently on the car.
The Duesenberg is powered by a supercharged, straight-eight cylinder, dual overhead cam, 420 cubic-inch, Lycoming engine developing 320 horsepower, coupled to a 3-speed manual transmission. The top speed in high gear is well over 125 miles per hour.
The car remained with Bill Harrah until his death, when it was purchased by John Bradley who had the car maintained by Mosier Restoration. The current owner purchased the car from the Bradley estate in 2007.
Great ingredients guarantee spectacular results. In the case of a Duesenberg, it was the magical combination of Fred Dusenberg's mechanical skills, E. L. Cord's capital and a supercharged 320 horsepower Lycoming straight eight engine, that resulted in a legendary vehicle. It produced 55 more horsepower than its normally aspirated cohort. There were just 36 examples produced, which cost an additional $1,000 per chassis, before the company went under in 1937. That meant that an SJ was a $9,500 investment before the owner spent a single cent on its custom body! No coachbuiler bodied more chassis for Duesenberg than Walter M. Murphy Co, of Pasadena, California.
Duesenbergs were innovative machines, debuting innovations which have since become industry standards. Some of these are heat treated molybdenum steel chassis, ground, instead of cast, transmission gears, lightweight tubular axles and a self-damping design reducing crankshaft vibrations. This was America's first straight eight and the first overhead camshaft production car.
This car, engine SJ478 and chassis 2496, is now on its third owner. Initially it was owned by an executive of the A&P Grocery chain. It was then the property of a Harvard student who saw it advertised for sale in a New York Times ad in 1953. The asking price was a hefty $2,000.
The car is a Murphy Coupe with disappearing top and has never been restored. Unlike many of the other Duesenberg Model J's, its engine is painted red. Apparently the factory installed supercharged motor was rebuilt in the 1950s at which point it was painted red. The current caretaker has owned its since 1953, when he successfully talked his father into buying him the car as a gift for graduating Harvard Law School. It was listed for sale in a New York Times ad for $2,250. Other than a repaint and some new chrome, The Duesie is essentially unrestored and in remarkably original condition with just 60,000 miles from new.By Daniel Vaughan | Jun 2016
This car with engine J-272 was delivered new with a centrifugal supercharger increasing engine output to a factory-claimed 320 horsepower. The supercharger model was the SJ designation, and the bare chassis cost a staggering $11,750 before being fitted with coachwork. Only 36 examples were delivered by the factory. Top speed in second gear is said to have been 104 mph, and 125 mph in high. Zero to 100 mph was reported as 17 seconds.
This Convertible Victoria by Rollston of New York is notable for its open rear quarters, which allow better visibility and emphasizes a sporting appearance.
Chassis Num: 2577
Engine Num: SJ528
Sold for $1,320,000 at 2005 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,430,000 at 2010 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,595,000 at 2015 RM Auctions
After Fred Duesenberg died in a Model J accident in 1932, his brother Augie was retained to put the final touches on the supercharged Duesenberg SJ. The SJ delivered 320 brake horsepower while retaining the outstanding naturally aspirated performance of the J at lower RPM. Since the SJ required external exhaust manifolds to accommodate the supercharger under its hood, the giant chromed flexible exhaust pipes became its signature feature. Just three of these Brunn Riviera Phaetons are known to have been built and only two were supercharged SJs. The first owner of this car was Lt. Col. Jacob Schick, best known today for inventing the cartridge-style Schick razor and the first electric razor. After several additional owners it was purchased by John O'Quinn in 2005.
Chassis Num: 2577
Engine Num: SJ528
Sold for $1,320,000 at 2005 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,430,000 at 2010 RM Auctions
Sold for $1,595,000 at 2015 RM Auctions
If a close shave is the key to sex appeal, then a fine Duesenberg in addition had to cause an irresistibility unrivaled by any other combination.
Lt. Col. Jacob Schick possibly had this thought pass through his head when he ordered a Brunn-bodied Model SJ 'Riviera' Duesenberg Phaeton in 1933.
Famous for revolutionizing shaving, Schick would establish an empire of his own, and he would be in the market for an automobile that spoke of his wealth. At that time, the Duesenberg would be among the very best Schick could have ever sought. Therefore, the Lt. Col. would put in an order.
Schick would take delivery of the car in June of 1934. The car would be a marvel in its own right sporting a huge convertible top that Brunn & Company, amazingly, made capable of disappearing under the reverse-hinge rear deck.
Despite taking delivery of the car, Schick would not keep the car for very long. In fact, it would remain with him for only a matter of months before it would change hands. This would be just the beginning of a spell in which the car would change hands numerous times, and all within the first few years of its life.
Then, in 1950, the Duesenberg would find its most stable home. Harry Schulzinger was in the market for a Duesenberg. It was now after the end of the Second World War and the Cincinnati man wanted a Duesenberg in which he could tinker. Schulzinger would come across chassis 2577 and would stop looking.
Purchasing the car, Schulzinger would not put the car away in some climate controlled garage. Instead, the car was turned over to a group of men working out of a very humble garage. Their goal: to produce the quickest Duesenberg of that, or any, era.
To begin with, the phaeton body from Brunn would be removed leaving just the chassis and everything else forward of the firewall. After some failed attempts to boost the performance of the engine, a new engine would be compiled from components laying around the shop. Jack Irwin was responsible for meeting Schulzinger's demands and, thankfully, this meant there were enough parts lying around to scrounge together. The crankcase came from a J-467. The engine block itself came from J-487. Then, just to top everything off, Jahnes racing pistons were added.
No longer a concours-ready Duesenberg, the fact the car could reach speeds of around 140mph was all the pleasure that Harry needed and this would be attested to by the fact the car would remain with him until his death in 1974. Over the course of those nearly twenty-five years the car was never really pampered. The Duesenberg reputation for performance was taken to a whole new level, and thoroughly enjoyed at every opportunity.
Not everyone believed a Duesenberg should be driven as Schulzinger had. It was of little surprise then, when it was sold to its latest owner, Dr. Donald Vesley, that one of the first things he would set about doing was restoring the car to its original look and feel.
He would have the body refitted to the car and would remove the fenders that had been added. In addition, he would have the engine rebuilt. This would include fitting dual carburetors and a supercharger, and, of course, the iconic 'ram's horn' exhaust manifolds.
As with its first few years of existence, 2577 would soon find itself being sold and resold. Bob Bahre would have a spell as its owner, so too would Noel Thompson. Both were renowned Duesenberg enthusiasts and their ownership adds to the quality of the Brunn Phaeton.
Following its period with Bahre and Thompson, the car would make its way to Las Vegas to be part of the well-known Imperial Palace Auto Collections. Then, in 2001, Rich Atwell of Fredericksburg, Texas would purchase the car.
Atwell would commission Fran Roxas to fully restore the car to concours quality. Before full completion the car would again be sold. Nonetheless, the new owner would bring the car back to Roxas to complete what had been started. The result would be a Best of Show winner at the Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John's and a Second in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Once the fastest, 2577 now has to be considered one of the most elegant of all Duesenbergs. The touches of the disappearing Brunn convertible top, simple yet supple interior and the 320bhp 32-valve inline eight cylinder that still does 'Hot Rod Harry' proud are all part of what makes this Model SJ very special.
Offering the 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ 'Riviera' Phaeton as part of its Monterey auction, RM Sotheby's expected big things from the Duesy having estimates for the car ranging from between $1,600,000 and $2,000,000.By Jeremy McMullen
The Duesenberg Company produced high-end, luxury automobiles and racing cars from 1913 through 1937. It was created by the Duesenberg brothers, Fred and August, who formed the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa with the intent on building sports cars. Just like many of their time, they were mostly self-taught engineers and had only constructed experimental cars up to this point.
Duesenberg's place in history was officially solidified in 1914 when Eddie Richenbacker drove a Duesenberg to an astonishing 10th place finish at the Indianapolis 500. Duesenberg later went on to win the race, capturing overall victories in 1924, 1925, and 1927. A Duesenberg was used as a pace car for the Indianapolis 500 in 1923.
Starting with the companies first appearance at the Indianapolis 500 in 1913 and continuing for a consecutive 15 years, there were a total of 70 Duesenberg racing cars entered in the race. Thirty-two of the cars finished in the top ten. In 1922, eight of the top ten cars were Duesenberg-powered. Many great racing names, such as Eddie Rickenbacker, Rex Mays, Tommy Milton, Peter DePaolo, Albert Guyot, Ralph DePalma, Fred Frame, Stubby Stubblefield, Ab Jenkins, Ralph Mulford, Jimmy Murphy, Joe Russo, and Deacon Litz raced in a Duesenberg.
Duesenberg's racing pedigree was not just reserved for the United States; in 1921, Jimmy Murphy drove a Duesenberg to victory at the French Grand Prix at the LeMans racetrack. This made him the first American to win the French Grand Prix. It also made the Duesenberg the first vehicle to start a grand prix with hydraulic brakes.
The Duesenberg headquarters and factory was relocated in July of 1921 from New Jersey to Indianapolis. Part of the purpose for the move was to focus more on the production of passenger vehicles. The Company had a hard time selling their Model A car. This was a very advanced car with many features not available on other vehicles being offered at the time. The engine had dual overhead cams, four-valve cylinder heads and was the first passenger car to be equipped with hydraulic brakes.
The Duesenberg Company produced 667 examples of the Model A, making it their first mass-produced vehicle. The Model A was powered by a 183-cubic-inch single overhead camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine. The strain of racing, moving, and lack of selling automobiles sent the company into receivership in 1922. After a few years, it's debts had been resolved, thank in-part to an investor group. The company re-opened in 1925 as the Duesenberg Motors Company.
In 1926, Errett Lobban Cord purchased the Duesenberg Company. The company appealed to E.L. Cord, owner of the Cord and Auburn Automobile Company, because of its history, the engineering ingenuity of the products, brand name, and the skill of the Duesenberg Brothers. The purpose was to transform the company into a producer of luxury automobiles. Duesenberg Model J and Model SJ
Fred Duesenberg was a master of creating engines and was a creative designer. He had a talent for conceiving new ideas and ways of doing things. The engines he constructed were beautiful, mechanically sound, and advanced. E.L. Cord gave him one task: 'Create the best car in the world.' This was a very tall order and came at a very difficult time in history. The onset of the Great Depression and the Stock Market crash was just around the corner. Competition in the luxury car segment was fierce and involved all facets of the automobile. The cylinder wars that began in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s had marque's trying to outdo each other on the bases of their engines output, number of cylinders, and the speed of their ultra-luxury automobiles. Styling continued to be very important and often outsourced to the greatest designers and coachbuilders of the time. Maruqee's such as Cadillac, Packard, Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, Isotta Fraschini, Bugatti, and others were all trying to out-do each other and continue in business during this difficult point in history.
The Duesenberg Model J was first unveiled to the public at the New York Car Show on December 1st of 1928. Only the chassis and engine were shown and it still impressed enough to make front page news. The wheelbase was 142-inches making it nearly 12 feet. The chassis had a six cross-members made it very sturdy and able to accommodate the heaviest of bodies. The engine had dual overhead camshafts and eight-cylinders with four valves per cylinder. It displaced 420 cubic-inches and produced an impressive 265 horsepower in un-supercharged form. The engine had been designed by Fred Duesenberg and constructed by the Lycoming Company, which had been recently acquired by E.L. Cord. There was a brilliant lubrication system which automatically lubricated various mechanical components after sixty to eighty miles. Two lights mounted on the dashboard indicated when the lubrication process was transpiring. After 750 miles, lights mounted on the dashboard would light-up indicating the oil required changing. After 1500 miles, the lights would illuminate indicating the battery should be inspected. Top speed was 119 mph and 94 mph in second gear. With the use of a supercharger, the top speed increased even further, to nearly 140 mph. Zero-to-sixty took around eight seconds with 100 mph being achieved in seventeen seconds.
Each chassis was driven at speed for 100 miles at Indianapolis before being delivered to the customer or coachbuilder.
The coachwork was left to the discretion of the buyer and the talents of the coachbuilders. Prominent coachbuilders from North American and Europe were selected to cloth the Model J and Model SJ in some of the grandest and elegant coachwork ever created.
The cost of a rolling chassis prior to 1932 was $8,00. The rolling chassis usually included all mechanical components, front fenders, radiator grille, bumpers, running boards, dashboard, and sometimes a swiveling spot-light. After 1932, the price was raised to $9,500. After the coachwork was completed, the base price was $13,500 with a top-of-the line model fetching as much as $25,000 or more. To put this in perspective, the entry level Ford Model T in the early 1930s cost around $435 with the most expensive version selling for about $650. Many individuals in very prominent careers, such as doctors, made around $3,000 annually. The Great Depression meant the number of individuals capable of affording an automobile of this caliber soon dwindled. Those who could afford one often bought modest vehicles to avoid public uprising and ridicule. The pool of marques who catered to the upper-class of society did all they could to attract buyers; prices were lowered and incentives were made just to attract another sale. Needless to say, competition was fierce.
After the New York Show, Duesenberg ordered enough components to build 500 Model Js. Specifications and drawings of the chassis had been sent to prominent coachbuilders six months prior to its unveiling at the New York Show. This had been done to guarantee that a wide variety of bodies were available after its launch. Duesenberg ordered bodies in small quantities and offered the completed cars to have on-hand incase the customer wanted to take delivery immediately. The first customer took delivery of their Model J in May of 1929. This was just five weeks before Black Tuesday.
The Model SJ, a supercharged version of the Model J, produced 320 horsepower. The supercharger was located beside the engine with the exhaust pipes beneath through the side panel of the hood through creased tubes. The name 'SJ' was never used by the Duesenberg Company to reference these models.
Even though the Model J had received much attention from the press and promotional material was well circulated, sales were disappointing. The Duesenberg Company had hoped to construct 500 examples per year; this figure was never matched with a total of 481 examples constructed throughout its lifespan. Duesenberg did find customers such as Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo and James Cagney. Monarch, kings, queens, and the very wealthy accounted for the rest of the sales.
Production continued until the company ceased production in 1937. Little changed on the Model J over the years. The four-speed gearbox was replaced by a unsynchronized three-speed unit which was better suited to cope with the engines power. The last Model SJ's produced had ram-horn intakes and installed on two short-wheelbase chassis. Horsepower was reported to be as high as 400. These examples are commonly known as 'SSJ' in modern times.
In 1932, Fred Duesenberg was involved in a car accident which claimed his life. Development on the Model J had come to a halt which was not a problem at the time, but within a few years had become antiquated in comparison to the competition. An entirely new design and updated mechanical components were required for the Duesenberg name in 1937 in order to stay competitive. The cost and development time was too much for E.L. Cord to consider, and so he withdrew his financial support and the company dwindled.
August Duesenberg tried, unsuccessfully, to revive the Duesenberg name. Fritz Duesenberg tried again in the mid-1960s but again without success.By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
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