Pebble Beach Concours, ‘Best of Show’,1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupé  Chassis no. 2239 Engine no. 2239
Lot 167
Pebble Beach Concours, ‘Best of Show’,1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupé Chassis no. 2239 Engine no. 2239
€1.5 million - 2 million
US$ 1.9 million - 2.5 million
amended

Lot Details
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Pebble Beach Concours, ‘Best of Show’
1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupé
Coachwork by Walter M Murphy

Chassis no. 2239
Engine no. 2239
Cette Duesenberg Model J, dans un extraordinaire état conforme à l’origine, fut vendue neuve en 1929 au multi-millionnaire John R. MacKinney de New York City, associé de John D. Rockefeller Sr. dans la Standard Oil Co., par l’agence Duesenberg de New York City pour la somme de 14 500 dollars soit environ le prix de deux douzaines de Ford Model A ! La voiture de MacKinney, châssis n° 2239 fut livrée carrossée en coupé décapotable avec spider par le très réputé carrossier californien, Walter M. Murphy.

Entreprise célèbre pour ses magnifiques créations sur châssis Duesenberg, Murphy fut responsable d’environ 25 pour cent de la production totale de la Model J et dérivées. Un des modèles les plus appréciés de Murphy était le Convertible Coupé (coupé décapotable) avec capote « dissimulée », celle-ci disparaissant totalement dans un compartiment de la caisse recouvert par un panneau affleurant. En réalité, cette configuration était apparue sur le roadster carrossé par Murphy, une des trois Model J exposées sur le stand Duesenberg en décembre 1928, les deux autres étant habillées par LeBaron et Holbrook. Murphy allait carrosser environ 125 Duesenberg Model J sur 480, soit bien davantage que tout autre carrossier.

Le grand inconvénient de la capote « dissimulée » était son encombrement à l’intérieur de la carrosserie qui réduisait l’espace réservé aux occupants du spider. John MacKinney ayant des enfants déjà grands choisit une capote normale sur « 2239 » qui serait donc une des rares Model J de Murphy habillée de ce type de carrosserie.

En 1934, la voiture fut vendue via l’agence Hilton Motors à H. P. Ammidown de New York City et, en 1936, à Kaisley Blake (dans le Connecticut), propriétaire de la Model J Convertible Coupé par Murphy n° 2396. En 1954, « 2239 » était la propriété de Clarence F. Roibichaud (du Connecticut, et elle fut vendue l’année suivante à Paul Graehling en Illinois. Propriétaire d’une importante collection d’automobiles classiques, Graehling envoya la Duesenberg à la Clinton Car Parts Co. à Clinton (Iowa) où elle fut restaurée par Sam Heend. En 1957, « 2239 » fut revendue à Floyd Du Val et Ernest Paulus de Davenport (Iowa) qui achevèrent la restauration que Graehling avait entamée. Du Val était un restaurateur expérimenté.
Terry Radey de l’Ontario (Canada) est le propriétaire suivant répertorié. Radey acheta la voiture en 1977 et fit procéder à une nouvelle restauration, cette fois au niveau « concours » qui fut entreprise par Harry Sherry de Warsaw (Ontario). Cette restauration demanda trois ans et, en 1980, « 2239 » gagna le trophée « Best of Show » à la concentration ACD (Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg) à Auburn (Indiana). L’année suivante (1981), la Duesenberg ex MacKinney fut déclarée au prestigieux concours de Pebble Beach « Best of Show », récompense suprême de cette manifestation et l’une des plus prisées au monde pour une automobile classique.
En 1991, « 2239 » fut achetée par le célèbre collectionneur Bruce A. Meyer de Beverly Hills (Californie), vainqueur du trophée « Person of the Year » Meguiar en 1999 et conservateur et membre fondateur du Peterson Automotive Museum de Los Angeles. Alors propriété de Meyer, la voiture fut entretenue par le spécialiste de la marque Randy Ema. Par la suite, « 2239 » fut achetée par le collectionneur belge Bob Lalement et, depuis son triomphe à Pebble Beach, elle a accumulé de nombreuses récompenses dans les concours y compris le « Choix du Public » au Louis Vuitton Classic à Paris en 2002, un « Best of Show » à Essen (Allemagne) en 2006 et un « Best of Show » à Anvers (Belgique) en 2007.

Présentée en magnifique état et parfaitement fonctionnelle, la voiture immatriculée aux Pays-Bas fut rachetée vers 2006 après le décès de Bob Lalement. Au retour du Concours d’élégance européen de Schwetzingen (Allmagne) les nouveaux propriétaires s’arrêtèrent devant l’ancienne maison familiale des Duesenberg à Kirchheide. La voiture serait ainsi la seule Duesenberg jamais photographiée devant la maison que Frederick et August quittèrent encore tout jeunes en 1885. Pour la grande majorité des habitants, ce fut la première Duesenberg qu’ils eussent jamais vue.

Le nom de Duesenberg reste un symbole d’opulence et de luxe et l’on estime qu’environ 50 pour cent – soit 600 voitures – des automobiles de la marque sont toujours en existence. De nos jours, les Duesenberg font partie des automobiles de collection les plus disputées et cet exemplaire si souvent récompensé mérite toute l’attention des connaisseurs.

Arguably America’s most sought-after automobile, the fabulous Duesenberg Model J enjoys a reputation like few others. A monument to the ambition of one man - Erret Lobban Cord - and the engineering brilliance of two others - Frederick and August Duesenberg - the Model J was revealed to a awe-struck public at the New York Automobile Salon in December 1928.

The story of the Duesenberg motor car had begun in Des Moines, Iowa in 1906 when the two brothers designed a twin-cylinder automobile to be known as the Mason after its backer, a local attorney. (Originally ‘Düsenberg’, the family had emigrated to the USA from Germany in the 1880s). The Mason soon proved an effective hill climb and race car, but the marque foundered after a disastrous change of ownership and in 1913 the Duesenbergs left to start their own company in St Paul, Minnesota.

The horizontal-valve, rocker-arm, four-cylinder engine designed for the Mason was carried on in a succession of highly successful Duesenberg board track racers, with the result that the brothers’ burgeoning reputation enabled them to secure backing for series production. Duesenberg Motors Corporation moved into a new factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1916 and almost immediately found itself manufacturing aero engines for the war effort rather than automobiles.

Production of the Duesenberg automobile would not commence until 1922, by which time the brothers were part of a new company, the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Corporation, of Indianapolis. First shown in prototype form in 1920, the Model A appeared with a horizontal-valve, straight eight engine and hydraulic brakes, the latter a first for an American car. Production cars however, used an overhead-camshaft eight. Although highly successful in racing during the 1920s, the Duesenbergs fared less well in the market place and by 1927 fewer than 700 Model As had been built.

In the meantime, Auburn boss Errett Cord had acquired the company and instigated the programme that would result in one of the greatest automobiles in history. When launched at the 1929 New York Auto Show in December 1928, the Model J was the most powerful American car made, its twin-overhead-camshaft, 32-valve, straight eight engine producing a claimed 265bhp in un-supercharged form. The installed figure was undoubtedly less, but even so the Model J had better than 200 horsepower and a formidable performance despite its great size and weight - wheelbases were either 142½” or 153½” inches and production cars tipped the scales at 5,000lbs. At $8,500, the chassis price comfortably exceeded that of the most expensive custom-bodied Cadillac.

The Model J was endowed with outstanding performance: the top speed – achieved at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - was 116mph (187km/h) with 90mph (151km/h) reachable in second gear, making the new Duesenberg one of the fastest road cars of its day. And for those who found the standard model too slow there was the supercharged ‘SJ’, introduced in 1932 and endowed with 320bhp - more with the later ‘ram’s horn’ manifolding. Model J buyers ranged from movie stars to gangsters to politicians, with one-off custom-made bodies abounding. The finished cars were some of the largest, grandest, most beautiful and elegant ever made. Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Howard Hughes and the HRH Duke of Windsor were counted among their owners. Deusenberg’s advertising claimed that theirs was the best car in the world, and the Model J’s exceptional performance and extreme opulence fully backed that assertion.
Cord’s agreement with Fred Duesenberg had stipulated a first production run of 500 cars, but even this modest figure would prove unattainable. Like other luxury car manufacturers, Duesenberg was adversely affected by the Wall Street Crash but although the company survived the Depression it could not survive the collapse of Cord’s business empire, perishing together with Auburn and Cord in 1937.
This outstandingly original Model J was sold new in 1929 to multi-millionaire, John R MacKinney, of East 52nd Street, New York City, a partner of Standard Oil’s John D Rockefeller, Sr. Both men had their own seats on the New York Stock Exchange and MacKinney also owned his own company, MacKinney & Weicher. The Model J was bought via the New York City Duesenberg agency for $14,500, approximately the price of two dozen Model A Fords! MacKinney’s car, chassis number ‘2239’, was delivered with convertible coupé coachwork, complete with ‘rumble’ or ‘dickey’ seat, by the highly respected Californian coachbuilder, Walter M Murphy.

A firm best remembered for its magnificent creations on the Duesenberg chassis, Murphy was responsible for bodying around 25% of the production of the Model J and its derivatives. One of Murphy’s most popular offerings was the Convertible Coupé with ‘disappearing’ top, a design that enabled the convertible top to fold down into a cavity within the bodywork, which was covered by a flush-fitting panel.

Indeed, this arrangement had featured on the Murphy-bodied roadster that was one of the three Model Js displayed on the Duesenberg stand in December 1928, the other two cars being bodied by LeBaron and Holbrook. Murphy would go on to body 125 out of the approximately 480 J-type Duesenbergs made, more than any other coachbuilder.

The ‘disappearing’ top’s major disadvantage was that it took up valuable space within the body, making the ‘dickey’ accommodation somewhat cramped. John MacKinney had growing children and so opted for a design with a non-disappearing top for ‘2239’, which is believed to be one of only a tiny handful of Model Js completed with this particular form of Murphy coachwork.

In 1934, the car passed via the Hilton Motors dealership to H P Ammidown, of New York City and in 1936 was sold to Kaisley Blake, of Connecticut, owner of Murphy-bodied Model J Convertible Coupé ‘2395’. By 1954, ‘2239’ was in the ownership of Clarence F Roibichaud, of Connecticut and the following year was sold to Paul Graehling, of Illinois. Owner of an extensive collection of classic cars, Graehling sent the Duesenberg to the Clinton Car Parts Co in Clinton, Iowa where it was restored by Sam Heend. In 1957, ‘2239’ was sold to Davenport, Iowa residents Floyd Du Val and Ernest Paulus who completed the restoration that Graehling had instigated, Du Val being an experienced restorer.
Terry Radey of Ontario, Canada was the Duesenberg’s next recorded owner. Radey acquired the car in 1977 and immediately commissioned a further restoration, this time to concours standards, which was carried out by Harry Sherry, of Warsaw, Ontario. This restoration took three years to complete and in 1980 ‘2239’ won the ‘Best or Show’ award at the ACD (Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg) meeting in Auburn, Indiana. The following year (1981) the ex-MacKinney Duesenberg was judged ‘Best of Show’ at the prestigious Pebble Beach concours, the event’s top award and one of the highest accolades a classic automobile can receive.

In 1991, ‘2239’ was acquired by the famous car collector, Bruce A Meyer, of Beverly Hills, California, winner of the Meguiar’s ‘Person of the Year’ award in 1999 and a trustee and founding member of The Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. During Meyer’s ownership the car was maintained by Duesenberg expert Randy Ema. ‘2239’ subsequently passed into the ownership of the famous Belgian collector, Bob Lalement and since its Pebble Beach triumph has won many more concours trophies including ‘People’s Choice’ at the Luis Vuitton Classic in Paris, France in 2002; ‘Best of Show’ at the Essen Motor Show, Germany in 2006; and ‘Best of Show’ at the Antwerp Classic Show, Belgium in 2007.
Presented today in superb, driveable condition, the car, which is Netherlands registered, was acquired by the current owners circa 2006 following Bob Lalement’s death. On their way home from the 2007 European Concours d’Elegance held in Schwetzingen, Germany they paused in front of the Düsenberg family’s former house in Kirchheide. Theirs is believed to be the only Duesenberg motor car ever photographed at the home that Frederick and August had left as young children in 1885. For many of the local inhabitants it was the first Duesenberg they had ever seen.
The Duesenberg name lives on as a symbol of opulence and luxury; indeed, it is estimated that approximately 50% - or 600 or so - of the original cars remain in existence. Today the Duesenberg Model J and its derivatives are among the world’s most sought after of collectible automobiles. This concours-winning example is worthy of the closest inspection.

Saleroom notices

  • Merci de noter que cette voiture posséde un certificat de dédouanement belge lui permettant d’être immatriculée dans les pays de la communauté européenne. Please note that this car has a Belgian customs document that can be used to register the car.
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