420ci DOHC Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
Single Stromberg Downdraft Carburetor
265bhp at 4,200 rpm
3-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Rear Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
*Offered from long-term enthusiast ownership
*Desirable short-wheelbase chassis ideal for touring
*Formerly owned by John Longo and Seymour Siegel
*Handsome older restoration in very appropriate colors
*Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Certified Category 1 (D-197)
*Matching body to chassis number
THE DUESENBERG MODEL J
Reams of paper have been devoted to the history of the Duesenberg Model J, inarguably the finest American automobile of the Classic Era. It was the product of the engineering talents of Fred and August Dueseberg, and the will of E.L. Cord, who had acquired the Duesenberg's automobile company to serve as the flagship of his burgeoning automotive empire. Cord wanted to build the very best car in the world, and it is inarguable that he and the Duesenbergs succeeded. Its twin-cam straight-eight engine enabled remarkable performance, with the factory claiming that 89 mph could be achieved in second gear, and almost all models, even heavy sedans, being capable of a top speed nearing 110 mph.
Not just potent, the Model J became the basis for the finest coachwork of the era, by the world's greatest and costliest shops. The completed automobile, frequently built to the original owner's individual specifications, usually rang in at around $15,000, with some examples known to have neared or exceeded $20,000 – making the Duesenberg not only the fastest American automobile of its time, but the costliest, as well. Unsurprisingly, examples were acquired by a cadre of captains of industry, film stars, and heirs and heiresses to great fortunes; no Duesenberg was even delivered to someone uninteresting.
Such prestige factors combined to make "The Mightiest Motor Car" justifiably a legend in its own time. The Model J has never stopped being desirable; even in the early 1950s, when most were 'used cars,' they were still considered extremely special, valuable used cars, and still retained a considerable following. Today it is one of the most prized automobiles ever built, and the histories of the surviving examples are widely researched and studied, while the cars win awards at major concours all over the globe.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
New York coachbuilder Rollston produced some of the most exquisite coachwork on the Model J chassis, excelling in a wide variety of styles and configurations, all built with their trademark superb proportions and outstanding body engineering. They were most highly regarded for their Convertible Victoria, a lush four-passenger model with a convertible top that folded virtually flush with the car's beltline when lowered – a touch inspired by Rollston's Massachusetts-based competitor, Waterhouse. The result was a crisp, clean appearance that emphasized the Model J's sporting potential, while also enabling weathertight comfort in less pleasant circumstances. Two versions were built, with and without rear quarter windows, on both short- and long-wheelbase chassis.
The Model J offered here is an authentic example built by Rollston to their design no. 361, the blind-quarter Convertible Victoria. It was the conclusion of the late Duesenberg historian Ray Wolff that it was originally fitted to this Duesenberg short chassis, number 2474, based on information provided by Rollston designer and principal Rudy Creteur from his firm's archives. The body is definitively known to have later been mounted to a car with engine no. J-387, owned first by Joe Rosenthal, then by Gunnar Anderson, who cut down the tops of the doors in the stylish fashion of the Packard Darrins. Anderson eventually sold the car to longtime ACD Club member Dick "The Baron" Meyer of New Jersey, in whose ownership the Rollston body was exchanged for a Murphy Beverly.
The Rollston body was then restored to its original configuration and, as has recently been established by Duesenberg historians, was fortunately reunited with short-wheelbase frame no. 2474; an original firewall, stamped with no. 2408; and an engine mated to original bell-housing J-394, by John Longo of Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, a respected enthusiast, friend and mentor to many fellow Duesenberg enthusiasts on the East Coast. Following the completion of his restoration, Mr. Longo won a First Primary at Hershey in 1973, then exhibited the car in CCCA competition, earning a Senior First Prize in 1974 with a score of 99.25 points; it was also awarded Best of Show at the New Hope Auto Show in 1975. His car was among the best-known, most highly regarded Model J restorations on the national show circuit during this period.
Mr. Longo later sold the Model J in 1978 to Seymour Siegel, "Brooklyn's Potato Salad King," in whose ownership it was fully restored anew in the present livery of white with tobacco brown moldings, tan top and tan leather upholstery, as well as striking external exhausts as used on the famous supercharged 'SJ' Duesenbergs. The result was a spectacular and striking appearance. In Mr. Siegel's ownership, J-394 was inspected by the ACD Club and awarded Category 1 Certification, recognizing that it is comprised entirely of original Model J components. The car remained with Mr. Siegel until October 2004 and was then sold to the present owner's father, having now remained in the family's hands for over 17 years. Shown only selectively during that period, including in 2018 at The Elegance at Hershey, its restoration remains well-preserved and highly attractive in its presentation, with crisp new tan cloth top installed within the last several years by noted restorer Steve Babinsky.
Rollston is among the most respected coachbuilders of its era, and its Convertible Victoria is among its most respected and beloved designs. The opportunity to acquire such a prized work on the superb Model J chassis, with rich heritage with known enthusiast owners, should not be considered lightly, whether the goal is high-speed driving on the Duesenberg Tour and CCCA CARavans, regional concours...or both!