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.