1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Riviera Phaeton

When Hot Rod Harry had a disastrous engine failure, he souped up the powerplant and installed an overdrive five-speed transmission

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In 1925, Errett Lobban Cord added the Duesenberg Motors Company to his rapidly growing enterprise, the Auburn Automobile Company. Cord’s vision was to create an automobile that would surpass the great marques: Cadillac, Isotta Fraschini, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, and Hispano-Suiza. He presented Fred Duesenberg with the opportunity to create the greatest car in the world, and the result was the Model J.
Conceived and executed to be superlative in all respects, the Model J was introduced at the New York Auto Salon on Dec. 1, 1928. It was powered by a straight-eight-cylinder engine with double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. Displacing 420 cubic inches, the motor made 265 horsepower. This was later increased to 320 hp for the Model SJ, thanks to a centrifugal supercharger.
The new Duesenberg was tailor-made for the custom body industry. While most of the leading coachbuilders clothed the mighty J, many modern observers believe it was Brunn & Company who best combined exceptional design with outstanding build quality. One of the more remarkable designs of the era was its Riviera Phaeton body, a convertible sedan with a completely disappearing top that stowed in a compartment hinged at the rear bumper. It is that very coachwork that our subject car is fitted with.
The original purchaser of SJ528 was Lt. Col. Jacob Schick of razor fame, who drove it for two years. The car then had eleven owners until April 1950, when Harry Schultzinger of Cincinnati bought it and immediately began restoring it. For reasons unknown, Schultzinger replaced the frame with one from J551, frame 2577, although the rest of SJ528, including its engine, body, firewall, and drivetrain, are original. Schultzinger became the car’s longest owner, finally selling it in 1975.
The Duesenberg then had seven owners until the vendor acquired it in 2001 from auction mogul Dean Kruse, who himself had purchased it from the Imperial Palace Collection. A third complete restoration was then undertaken by noted restorer Fran Roxas, including stripping the entire car to its bare metal and rebuilding and refurbishing every component as necessary.
SJ528 is said to be one of the best-running and most powerful Duesenbergs remaining today. It is one of just three Brunn Riviera Phaetons built, and one of just two fitted with a supercharger by the factory. It is an exceedingly rare event when a car with this specification, pedigree and provenance comes to market.

John Apen

John Apen - SCM Contributor

John holds degrees in engineering and operations research from the University of California-Berkeley, New York University, and Johns Hopkins. He vintage raced a Ferrari TdF for 13 years and has been restoring old cars for nearly 50 years. He owned the Atlanta Ferrari-Maserati dealership, FAF, for 17 years. He’s always had an affinity for obscure American cars, and in high school, he drove a 1936 Packard convertible coupe, followed by a 1949 Olds Holiday hardtop that got him through college. Today his garage includes 11 cars, including a Top Flight 1960 Corvette he’s owned since day one, a 1957 T-Bird, and several vintage Ferraris. His automotive library contains over 5,000 magazines and books and 1,800 auction catalogs. He has contributed to SCM since 1996.

Posted in American