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Lot 58

2015   |   Amelia Island 2015

1934 Duesenberg Model SJ Touring Berline

Coachwork by Rollston

Estimate

$950,000 - $1,400,000

Chassis

2543

Car Highlights

One of 36 Factory-Supercharged Model SJs Built
The Famous “Continental Duesenberg”
Interesting and Documented History
Recently Restored to Concours Level
The Height of Classic Era Design and Engineering

Technical Specs

420 CID Supercharged DOHC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Stromberg UU2 Carburetor
Schwitzer-Cummins-Type Centrifugal Supercharger
320 BHP at 4,200 RPM
3-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Vacuum-Assisted Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Solid Front and Live Rear Axles with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs
Register to Bid

Mrs. Henry Evans, New York, New York (acquired new via J.S. Inskip in September 1934)Herbert Waller, New York, New York (acquired in April 1946)Charles Kyner, New York, New York (acquired from Mrs. Mallory Davis Waller in June 1948)Jim Hoe, Weston, Connecticut, and Judge John C. North II, St. Michaels, Maryland (acquired from the Kyner estate in 1987)Robert McGowan, Connecticut (acquired from the above in the late 1980s)Consignor

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, Pebble Beach, California, August 2014St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance, Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, September 2014 (Honorary Chairman’s Award)

Soon after engineering the turnaround of Auburn and assuming the company presidency, E.L. Cord acquired Indianapolis 500-winning Duesenberg as the crown jewel of his fast-growing industrial empire in October 1926. Answering Cord’s challenge to create the world’s finest automobile, Fred Duesenberg delivered with the Model J. Long revered as the finest achievement of Classic Era design and engineering, the Model J was initially priced from $8,500 for the bare chassis and often approached $20,000 with coachwork fitted. For the money, however, the Model J’s specifications remain impressive today, including double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, hemispherical combustion chambers, power-assisted four-wheel hydraulic brakes, automated chassis lubrication, and 265 bhp normally aspirated or 320 bhp supercharged.

Capable of easily exceeding 100 mph while carrying some of the most elegant custom bodies, the Model J chassis was available in 142 1/2" or 153 1/2" wheelbase lengths.

Just 36 supercharged SJs were produced. The process of raising the standard J to SJ specification was no small job. The engines were fitted with stronger valve springs, high-performance tubular connecting rods, and more. Since the SJ required external exhaust manifolds to accommodate the supercharger, polished external exhaust pipes became its visual signature.

Bearing long-wheelbase chassis no. 2543, powered by engine no. J-514, and fitted new with a custom-outfitted Rollston Touring Berline body, this majestic, yet sporting Duesenberg Model SJ is well known as an uncommonly pure example with excellent provenance. In 1934, J-514 was ordered by wealthy New York socialite Mrs. Henry Evans, whose late husband was a former president of Continental Insurance. An enthusiastic Duesenberg owner, Mrs. Evans traded in J-315, a Rollston limousine, for the supercharged J-514 from dealer J.S. Inskip, which was priced at a staggering $18,000. Equipped with a roof-mounted luggage rack with an 800 lb. capacity, J-514 was taken abroad by Mrs. Evans on several European tours. It is thought that the supercharger may have been removed from the car at an early stage, perhaps to increase reliability while abroad.

During October 1944, Mrs. Evans traded J-514 back to Inskip, with the car next sold to Herbert Waller, whose widow sold it to Charles Kyner in June 1948. J-514 remained with Mr. Kyner for many years until his passing; and, in 1987, his widow sold the car to Duesenberg expert Jim Hoe in partnership with collector Judge John C. North II. Shortly thereafter, Hoe and North sold J-514 to multiple Duesenberg owner Robert McGowan.

The consignor acquired the previously unrestored Duesenberg in mid- 2013 and then commissioned a highly detailed, concours-quality restoration performed by Connecticut’s Manny Dragone, including a color change from two-tone brown paintwork to a handsome two-tone maroon color scheme and a proper Zapon fabric-covered roof as originally specified. When the car was disassembled for the restorative work, the full integrity of Mrs. Evans custom-built Duesenberg was revealed. Described by the restorer to be one of the most intact remaining Duesenbergs, J-514 is stated to retain an uncommon amount of factory-original hardware and fittings, as well as rare SJ-specific internal engine parts. Mechanicals, including the engine, transmission, rear end, and brakes were refurbished, and a proper Brian Joseph-built supercharger was fitted, returning the Duesenberg to its as-delivered mechanical specification.

Importantly, J-514 is complete with the extremely rare mesh heat-shielding underhood and could be the only Model J to retain this feature. Following completion, J-514 was exhibited at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it is reported by the consignor to have performed flawlessly, being quite fast with strong power delivery on the Pebble Beach Tour. Next, J-514 returned to the East Coast, winning the 2014 Honorary Chairman’s Award at the St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance held in Cambridge, Maryland. Beautiful, rare, and blessed with excellent history, J-514 remains a wonderful example of one of the finest and most important classic automobiles ever conceived.