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Duesenberg History

1929 Duesenberg Model J

Chassis number : 2151

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Sold for $2,090,000 at 2014 Gooding & Company - The Scottsdale Auction.
Sold for $2,420,000 at 2016 Gooding & Company : The Scottsdale Auction.
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.

LeBaron
The LeBaron Company was created in 1920 by Ralph Roberts, Thomas L. Hibbard, and Raymond H. Dietrich. Dietrich and Hibbard both had a history together working as draftsmen for one of the most prestigious American coachbuilders, Brewster of Long Island. They chose the name LeBaron to invoke the grandeur and prestige of French design. The initial vision for their new company was not a coach-building company, but rather a design consulting firm. They would create designs and engineering plans from which a number of coachbuilders could perform their craft.

In 1923, the company merged with the Bridgeport Body Company, giving them the ability to construct the very designs it created.

By 1927, both Hibbard and Dietrich had left the firm they had created, though the company lived on, becoming one of the country's premier custom coachbuilders. They would create 38 bodies on the Model J Duesenberg chassis. Of all the coachbuilders of the era, only LeBaron, Murphy, and Holbrook were selected to build bodies for the first Model Js, which were displayed at the model's 1929 debut in New York.

One of LeBaron's most memorable designs and their specialty was the Ralph Roberts-designed Dual Cowl Phaeton, which would prove to be their most popular style for the Model J chassis. These phaetons are divided into two main types: the sweep-panel and the barrelside. The sweep-panel section bears an initial resemblance to the phaetons later produced by LaGrande, though with softer curves.

J-129

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 delivered new in the city of Detroit. It had a purchase price of nearly $20,000. The car was sold through Duesenberg's Chicago dealership in black with a yellow sweep panel.

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 coach-building facilities. This changed in 1927 when the company merged with the Briggs coach-building 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.


J-129 was sold in 1932 to Bert Schmidt of Chicago, who passed away soon after his purchase. The Duesenberg was then stored for all of 1934 in a workshop on Michigan Avenue. After being held in Chicago dealer Joe Neidlinger's inventory, the car was purchased in 1939 by Ken and Genelle Gibbs of Chicago. They would retain the car until 1948 when it was acquired by B. Goldberg of Libertyville. While in Mr. Goldberg's care, the rear end of the body was modified with a subtle forward slant, incorporating a lower top line. Dr. N.R. Joffee owned the car briefly in 1952, selling it in 1953 to Bernard Berger, who changed the sweep panel cove to red and sold it the following year to E.A. Wente of Ohio.

Leo Gephart purchased the car in 1971 and reversed the Goldberg's body modification and sold it to George Wallace in 1972. Mr. Wallace added the SJ-style external exhaust pipes and updated the radiator with chrome shutters before selling it to Ray Lutgert, who kept it until 1977. That year, the car joined the Richard Kughn collection where it would spend the next three decades before being sold to a Grand Rapids, Michigan collector.

Near the end of 2008, the car entered the care of its current owner, who immediately began a 4,600 hour, full restoration that was conducted by Fran Roxas' Vintage Motor Group. The work was completed in time for the 2010 Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded Best in Show, American. At Pebble Beach that same year, the car earned Second in Class behind the Best in Show nominee Graber-bodied Model J Duesenberg. In 2011, the car was shown at the Art of the Car Concours at the Kansas City Institute, where it won the People's Choice Award, and it received the Hagerty Children's Award at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

The car is currently finished in navy blue with crimson sweep panels. Inside, there is red leather and the engine is in the correct green enamel paint with polished aluminum components. The car rides on 19-inch, 78-spoke, snap-ring chrome wire wheels.


By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2014

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2016 Gooding & Company : The Scottsdale Auction

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $1,800,000-USD $2,400,000 
Sale Price :
USD $2,420,000

2014 Gooding & Company - The Scottsdale Auction

Pre-Auction Estimates :
USD $2,000,000-USD $2,300,000 
Sale Price :
USD $2,090,000

1929 Duesenberg Model J Auction Sales

Recent Sales of the Duesenberg Model J

(Data based on Model Year 1929 sales)
1929 Duesenberg Model J Berline
Chassis#: 2143
Sold for USD$2,260,000
  2022 Worldwide Auctioneers : Scottsdale Arizona
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Sedan by Derham/Bohman & Schwartz
Chassis#: 2143
Sold for USD$737,000
  2018 RM Auctions : Auburn Fall
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan
Chassis#: J262
Sold for USD$1,155,000
  2018 Mecum : Monterey
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Fleetwood
Chassis#: 2157
Sold for USD$990,000
  2017 Auctions America : Auburn Fall
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton
Chassis#: 2151
Sold for USD$2,420,000
  2016 Gooding & Company : The Scottsdale Auction
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy
Chassis#: 2168
Sold for USD$1,402,500
  2015 Auctions America - Auburn Fall
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton
Chassis#: 2151
Sold for USD$2,090,000
  2014 Gooding & Company - The Scottsdale Auction
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Sport Sedan
Chassis#: 2163
Sold for USD$962,500
  2013 Auctions America - Auburn Fall
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Sport Sedan
Chassis#: 2132
Sold for USD$990,000
  2012 RM Auctions - Monterey
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton 'Blue J'
Chassis#: 2292
Sold for USD$1,980,000
  2012 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auction
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline
Chassis#: 2127
Sold for USD$803,000
  2012 RM Auctions at Amelia Island, Fla
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton
Chassis#: 2136 / J116
Sold for USD$1,237,500
  2011 Automobiles of Arizona by RM Auctions
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J 7-Passenger Sedan
Sold for USD$357,500
  2010 Auctions America : Auburn Collector Car Auction
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan
Chassis#: J262
Sold for USD$825,000
  2010 RM Auctions - Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J
Sold for USD$858,000
  2009 Automobiles of Arizona
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J
Sold for USD$1,375,000
  2009 The Scottsdale Auction : Gooding & Company
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 DUESENBERG DERHAM CONVERTIBLE COUPE
Sold for USD$742,500
  2008 Worldwide Auctions - The Auburn Auction 2008
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton
Chassis#: 2174
Sold for USD$1,760,000
  2008 RM Auctions - Automobiles of Arizona
1929 Duesenberg Model J image  1929 Duesenberg Model J image  
1929 Duesenberg Model J by Barker
Sold for USD$616,000
  2007 Gooding & Company
 
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan
Chassis#: J262
Sold for USD$907,500
  2006 RM Auctions at Meadow Brook
 

Duesenberg Model Js That Failed To Sell At Auction

1929 Duesenberg Model J's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1929 Duesenberg Model J LaGrande Blind Quarter Brougham22102022 Mecum : Monterey$1,100,000  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Berline21432019 Worldwide Auctioneers : Riyadh Auction   
1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron21742010 Worldwide Auctions The Auburn Auction $1,700,000$2,000,000
1929 Duesenberg Phaeton 2009 Leake Auctions Dallas 37th Annual Leake Auto Auction Market Hall$600,000  
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupé22392009 Bonhams Automobiles d'Exception à Retromobile $1,500,000$2,000,000
1929 Duesenberg Model J Derham Convertible Coupe 2008 Collector Cars of Fort Lauderdale$640,000  
1929 Duesenberg J Sedanca De Ville 2006 Worldwide Auctions Houston Classic 2006   
1929 DUESENBERG DERHAM PHAETON KNOWN AS THE ELVIS DUESENBERG 2001 Kruse Auction Santa Clara, CA$880,000  
1929 DUESENBERG MODEL J TORPEDO CONVERTIBLE COUPE22212001 Kruse Auction Auburn, IN$850,000  

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1929 Duesenberg Model J Profiles

1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Chassis #: 2149
Engine #: J126
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Convertible Sedan
Coachwork: Willoughby
Chassis #: 2253
Engine #: J245
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Convertible 2-Door
Coachwork: Derham
Designer: Gordon Buehrig
Chassis #: 2176
Engine #: J150
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Coupe
Coachwork: Judkins
Designer: Gordon Buehrig
Chassis #: 2162
Engine #: J137
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Chassis #: 2127
Engine #: J-103
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Speedster
Coachwork: John Todd
Chassis #: J-113
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: Union City
Designer: Gordon Buehrig
Engine #: J188
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Chassis #: 2151
Engine #: J-129
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Sport Phaeton
Coachwork: Derham
Designer: Gordon Buehrig
Chassis #: 2136
Engine #: J-116
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Engine #: J111
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Town Car
Coachwork: Derham
Chassis #: 2257
Engine #: J-237
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: Union City
Designer: Gordon Buehrig
Chassis #: 2292
Engine #: J-270
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Chassis #: 2174
Engine #: J149
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Convertible Coupe
Coachwork: Fleetwood
Chassis #: 2157
Engine #: J417
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Sport Phaeton
Coachwork: Derham
Chassis #: 2148
Engine #: J124
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Berline
Coachwork: Bohman & Schwartz
Chassis #: 2143
Engine #: J-118
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Victoria
Coachwork: Rollston & Company
Engine #: J-337
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Engine #: J-223
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Dual Cowl Phaeton
Coachwork: LeBaron
Designer: LeBaron
Chassis #: 2177
Engine #: J-121
1929 Duesenberg Model J vehicle information
Blind Quarter Brougham
Coachwork: LaGrande
Chassis #: 2210
Engine #: J-189