1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton by LaGrande

Darin Schnabel ©2017, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Eleven LaGrande “sweep panel” phaetons were produced for the long-wheelbase Duesenberg Model J chassis. Of these, just three were supercharged SJ models, and only one of these, the car offered here, boasted unique styling features, most prominently the lack of a full second cowl.

Instead, a folding windshield was fitted. That windshield collapsed behind the front seat when not in use. The result, along with the potent supercharged engine and its signature side exhaust, produced a true 4-passenger American sports car.

The car was delivered on August 22, 1933, to original owner Bernard E. “Ben” Smith, a floor trader with W.E. Hutton & Company in New York City. Smith was a pioneer “short seller” on Wall Street who made a fortune by continuously betting against the collapsing U.S. economy through 1932. He made $10 million in 1930 alone. Quiet and secretive, he was reportedly mixed up in Duesenberg Motors owner E.L. Cord’s business deals of the time. The Duesenberg was maintained for its first decade at the Smith family home, Nestledown Farm, in Bedford Village, NY.

Renowned Southern California enthusiast and collector General William Lyon purchased the car in April 1983, adding it to his significant stable of Duesenbergs. There the car would remain for the next 25 years, only occasionally shown — but always well maintained — before joining its current owner’s notable private collection.

Carl Bomstead

Carl Bomstead - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Carl has been writing for SCM for 19 years. His first article appeared in the February 1997 issue, and at least one of his articles has appeared in every issue since. When he’s not writing, he serves as a National Director for the Classic Car Club of America and tends to his extensive collection of automobilia. He has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for the past 20 years, and he also judges at Amelia Island and other major concours. An extensive number of collector cars have passed through his garage, and a 1947 Cadillac 62 Series convertible and a 1968 Intermeccanica Italia are current residents.

Posted in American