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
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.
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