Duesenberg Model SJ Phaeton La Grande by Walker

Car producer : 



Model SJ Phaeton La Grande by Walker





The supercharged version, often referred to as "SJ", was reputed to do 104 miles per hour (167 km/h) in second and have a top speed of 135–140 mph (217–225 km/h) in third gear. Zero-to-60 mph (97 km/h) times of around eight seconds and 0–100 mph (0–161 km/h) in 17 seconds were reported for the SJ in spite of the unsynchronized transmissions, at a time when even the best cars of the era were not likely to reach 100 mph (160 km/h). Duesenberg’s generally weighed around two and a half tons; up to three tons was not unusual, considering the wide array of custom coachwork available. The wheelbase was 142.5 in (362 cm).

This rare supercharged Model J version, with 320 hp (239 kW) was also created by Fred Duesenberg and introduced in May 1932, only 36 units were built. Special-bodied models, such as the later "Mormon Meteor" chassis, achieved an average speed of over 135 mph (217 km/h) and a one-hour average of over 152 mph (245 km/h) at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. The SJ's supercharger was located beside the engine; to make room for it, the exhaust pipes were creased so they could be bent easily and extended through the side panel of the hood. These supercharged cars can be recognized by these shiny creased tubes, which Cord registered as a trademark and used in his other supercharged cars from Cord and Auburn. It was said, "The only car that could pass a Duesenberg was another Duesenberg—and that was with the first owner's consent."

While most Duesenbergs were coachbuilt to clients’ orders, often with intimate client involvement during design, construction and trimming, Duesenberg also developed an in-house line of bodies from the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg design department, most of them penned by Gordon Buehrig.

Styled La Grande, Duesenberg’s proprietary designs were built by several coachbuilders and supplied to the Duesenberg factory in Indianapolis where they were mounted and trimmed either to clients’ order or for stock. Although most were built by the Union City Body Company, a few were built by other houses, including Brunn, Weymann, and A.H. Walker.

Duesenberg’s La Grande bodies have stood the test of time, their classic elegance and tasteful embellishment distinguishing them among the most coveted coachwork on these great chassis. In an era of great designers and coachbuilders, this is an exceptional recognition.

The coachwork was particularly interesting in as much as it was one of just three supercharged phaetons built by La Grande, all on the long wheelbase chassis. It is the second of the three cars built, but was specified as a five passenger phaeton with accessory rear windscreen. The most likely reason for this order is that the full dual cowl configuration made entry and exit from the rear seat awkward, and the weight of the cowl and windscreen assembly was difficult for many to manage.

Although fourteen La Grande Phaetons were built in total – including the short wheelbase and non-supercharged cars – just eight are known to survive.

Coachbuilder Henry Lonschein started Rollston in 1921, after mastering his craft at Brewster. His unique, and costly, framing approach involved hand carving frames into final shape only after first assembling the individual timber frame members. To this day, restorers agree that Rollston bodies still demonstrate their precision with perfect shut lines; their strength in the way doors close; and their rigidity with an almost complete lack of squeaks and rattles, even decades later.

The Rollston Company was founded in 1921, but it was in 1927 when Rudy Creteur moved to Rollston from Locke as chief designer. Creteur was responsible for most of Rollston’s designs from that point on, including this wonderful example. As one of just 218 Rollston bodies built between 1927 and 1931, this specific design incorporates many of Creteur’s design hallmarks. In all, Rollston bodied 57 Model Js, with 16 of those being convertible Victorias. The low windshield and compact top lines give the car a sleek, low-slung look. This style in particular combines the good visibility of the convertible sedan with the sportier yet still-elegant open two-door body.

While many of the finest custom coachbuilders of the era offered a truly stunning array of the finest bespoke coachwork to suit virtually any customer need or taste, the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California is generally recognized today as the most successful coachbuilder on the Duesenberg Model J chassis. At once simple and elegant, Murphy-built bodies were distinguished by their trim lines and undeniable sporting character, seeming all the more so when compared to contemporary East Coast designs, which were generally heavier and more ornate in their concept and execution.

The trademark of Murphy body design was the “clear vision” pillar. On the convertible coupe, the windshield pillars were designed to be as slim as possible, creating a sportier, more open appearance. In fact, Murphy advertised that their windshield pillars were “narrower than the space between a man’s eyes”; a design feature that they also claimed eliminated blind spots. Without doubt, the Convertible Coupe is generally considered the best looking of Murphy’s designs and indeed, it was one of the most popular body styles for the Model J chassis.

After the Walter M. Murphy Company, of Pasadena, California, closed its doors in 1932, former employees Christian Bohman and Maurice Schwartz continued work on their own. They rapidly took up Murphy’s surviving customer base and evolved many of their former employer’s designs, as well as created several new bodies on Model J and SJ chassis. Many of the latter were designed by Duesenberg’s new chief factory designer, J. Herbert Newport, who brought with him a more flamboyant line than his predecessor, Gordon Buehrig.

Duesenberg built only 38 superchargers, which were moved around to roughly 50 different chassis during the “factory era.”

Sold for: 2300000 USD
Go to restoration
See other models

You may also like these cars

to top