1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Coupe

As advanced as the Model J Duesenberg was upon its introduction in 1929, most of the technical advancements contained within were confined to the body and chassis. The design of the front end and fenders — as well as that of most coachbuilt bodies — still bowed toward late-1920s convention, albeit stylishly. As a result, by the mid-1930s, the Duesenberg still held mechanical prowess over virtually everything else on the road. From a design standpoint, however, it was looking rather dated.

J. Herbert Newport, who had succeeded Gordon Buehrig as Duesenberg’s body designer, set out to do something about that. Among his creations for the Model J was a new convertible coupe, which incorporated the best of the Duesenberg’s trademark styling cues with the curves of modern streamlining. The traditional upright radiator shell and headlights were now accompanied by deeply skirted and rounded fenders, designed by Alex Tremulis and added at the factory branch, over 17-inch wheels. The beltline began as a slender molding running alongside the hood, and as it reached the windshield, it expanded out along the sides of the body into a polished “sweep,” which then fell back along the long fender like a trailing comet.

Production of this body style was handled by the A.H. Walker Body Company of Indianapolis, one of several firms that produced bodies for Duesenberg under the classy pseudonym of “LaGrande.” With Duesenberg’s days waning and the Great Depression still largely at its zenith, Walker built only three examples of the Newport-designed convertible coupe.

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.

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