Sports Car Market has learned that Gooding & Company has just finalized an important consignment for their Pebble Beach sale.
The consignment, a Duesenberg Long Wheelbase Model J known as the Whittell Coupe, will cross the block at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach auction this August.
The car was originally designed by Murphy Coach Builders under the direction of one of America’s outlandish Roaring Twenties bad boys, Captain George Whittell Jr. Beautifully restored and boasting just 12,000 original miles, the car has a striking black, red and chrome livery. Originally purchased in 1931 for $17,000, the Whittell Coupe is now considered to be one of the most extraordinary and valuable Duesenbergs in existence.
“Historically, Duesenberg Model J owners were among the most powerful and worldly of America’s pre-war elite and, with six Model Js in his collection, George Whittell was Duesenberg’s best customer of all time, even surpassing Clark Gable and Gary Cooper,” said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Company. “In my opinion, the Whittell Coupe we are presenting in Pebble Beach is the most elegant custom-bodied American Classic ever created and among the finest automobiles built prior to World War II.”
Captain George Whittell Jr. was heir to an impressive California Gold Rush and real estate fortune—and the ultimate playboy of his day. Whittell famously liquidated his entire stock portfolio (approximately $50 million at the time) just two weeks before the infamous stock market crash of 1929. A larger-than-life figure in San Francisco society, Whittell engaged in numerous escapades with women, reckless street racing and outrageous public appearances, such as the time he showed up to a local tavern with Bill, his pet lion.
The Whittell Coupe is the result of a unique collaboration between Captain Whittell and legendary automotive stylist, Franklin Q. Hershey, who began his career at Murphy Coach Builders just before Whittell commissioned the renowned Pasadena firm to create this Duesenberg. The Whittell Coupe was one of Hershey’s earliest projects, and its brilliance helped launch him on a successful design career. Recognized for his great influence in the automotive community, Hershey was elected to be an honorary judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1988, a role he served for nearly ten years.
“The entire car is a masterpiece and one of the few automotive designs that is perfectly proportioned from every perspective,” said Gooding & Company Specialist David Brynan. “And the interior, in and of itself, is a work of Art Deco-era art, which is a key feature that makes the Whittell Coupe stand apart.”
The culmination of Whittell’s visionary ideas of proportion and detail resulted in one of the most exquisitely-executed Classic cars of all time. Under his direction, the powerful two-passenger, sporting coupe was constructed atop a long-wheelbase chassis, which added a dramatic 11 inches to the standard Model J frame. The most distinguishing feature of the Duesenberg is its low-slung, brushed-aluminum roof, designed with a complete folding top mechanism and exterior “bows”, to mimic the closed fabric top of a convertible coupe. The car is enhanced with numerous unique characteristics, including a chrome-plated gas tank, port and starboard lights inspired by the Whittell’s love of boats and a polished chrome “waterfall” adorning the rear deck. The Whittell Coupe also boasts a lavish black patent leather interior, decorated with a polished aluminum and black Bakelite cockpit, as well as a brilliant red undercarriage, just as it did when Whittell took delivery in 1931. With the turn of its key, the Whittell Coupe’s mighty 420-ci, inline eight-cylinder engine springs to life with a low rumble, and the gentleman’s car smoothly transitions from a still beauty to a powerful mechanical masterpiece.
The 2011 Pebble Beach Auctions will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 & 21 at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, located at the corner of Portola Road and Stevenson Drive. Preview days will start on Wednesday, August 17 and will continue through Sunday, August 21. The auctions will commence at 5 pm on Saturday and 6 pm on Sunday. For more information, visit www.goodingco.com.