1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe

The Model J Duesenberg has long been regarded as the most outstanding example of design and engineering of the Classic Era. It was introduced in 1929, and trading was halted on the New York Stock Exchange for the announcement. At $8,500 for the chassis alone, it was by far the most expensive car in America. With coachwork, the delivered price of many Duesenbergs approached $20,000, a staggering sum at a time when a typical new family car cost around $500.

Few would argue that the car’s features did not support its price. Indeed, the Model J’s specifications sound current today: double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, power hydraulic brakes, and 265 horsepower in naturally aspirated form—or 325 brake horsepower when supercharged.
The Murphy Body Company of Pasadena, CA, is generally recognized as the most successful coachbuilder for the Duesenberg Model J chassis.

This example, J194, was sold new by Duesenberg’s New York City factory branch in August 1929 to William Durant Campbell, at which time it was finished in black with 19-inch chrome wire-spoke wheels. Within a year, on May 23, 1930, the car was resold to a banker named E.C. Converse, also of New York City, who commissioned Murphy to repaint the car in sage green with a red undercarriage.

Later, the car belonged to early Duesenberg enthusiast Bob Roberts, of Los Angeles, CA, who apparently had the hood louvers replaced with side screens. According to noted marque historian Ray Wolff, it was probably during Roberts’ ownership that the car’s firewall was replaced with the one from chassis 2462 (ex-J449). After a fully documented ownership chain, the car became a part of the O’Quinn Collection in 2005.

J194 is exceptionally well equipped, having been fitted with external exhaust, twin taillights, twin cowl-mounted spotlights, and twin Pilot Ray driving lights. Certainly, J194’s wonderful overall condition will provide its new owner with a thoroughly rewarding driving experience, while the car’s continuous history and well-known provenance will also ensure that it is a rewarding automotive investment.

Gordon Apker

Gordon Apker - SCM Contributor

Gordon still remembers the day his uncle brought home a red 1936 Auburn convertible coupe after the Korean War. He had never seen such a beautiful car, and it hardwired him into an old car buff from that day forward. He started a company in 1967 that became very successful, and his daily driver was a 1947 Oldsmobile “8” sedanette. He still owns that car, but it’s now fully restored. He has served as National Head Judge for the Classic Car Club of America, has judged Duesenbergs at Pebble Beach for nearly 30 years, vintage raced, and driven in all the usual rallies. Retiring 20 years ago, he now plays with cars. His oldest collector car is a 1916 Pierce-Arrow and his newest is a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB. His latest purchase is a 1955 Studebaker Speedster and his favorite car is whatever he’s driving.

Posted in American