Supercharged Duesenbergs were the top American supercars of their time. They join the Supercharged Stutz, Cadillac V16, Packard Twelve and Marmon Sixteen to uphold American honors against the Rolls-Royce Phantom II, Bentley Speed 6, Hispano-Suiza J12 and Mercedes-Benz 540 k. With its centrifugal, gear-driven supercharger, 320 bhp was possible which eclipsed any other production car of the period.
Eric Minoff on the La Grande Dual Cowl Phaeton
The Model SJ, the supercharged version of the J, debuted in 1932 originally equipped with a set of eight separate hard pipes, the arrangement you see on this car. The early hard pipes, as they were referred to, only existed for less than a year, at which point they replaced with the 4 flexible stainless steel pipes you see on virtually all SJ and many J’s.
The stainless pipes were so racy and popular at the time (Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Lago, Auburn, and many others all had them), that many owners actually converted their hard pipe SJ’s (or no external pipe J’s) to the 4 stainless steel pipes. While these pipes did have their advantages, such as prestige and (on SJ’s) the ability to disconnect the pipes for a [loud] boost of power, some owners liked their hard pipe SJ’s too much to change them.
One owner went so far to tell August Duesenberg (after the owner had received a notice from the company offering to change the pipes) that he loved his hard pipes b/c they glowed at night and impress my girlfriend! Hence, you can definitely tell if a Duesenberg is an SJ if it has hard pipes, but cannot if it has stainless steel ones.
1935 Duesenberg Model SJ LaGrande Convertible Coupe J530 – sold for $4,510,000 Arguably the most beautiful convertible coupe on the Duesenberg chassis. One of three produced, and the only supercharged example. Believed equipped with an original supercharger. Formerly the property of Raymond Lutgert and General William Lyon. Driven extensively, including the Texas and Wyoming Duesenberg Tours. Auction Source: 2013 Amelia Island by Rm Auctions
A factory-supercharged Model SJ. Original Phaeton body. Today, Lt. Col. Jacob Schick’s magnificent SJ528 is one of a mere handful of original-bodied supercharged Model J Duesenbergs remaining today. It is one of three Brunn Riviera Phaetons built and, amazingly, one of two such factory-supercharged cars. In 2006, SJ528 was shown at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it was awarded Best in Class. As expected, it is an exceedingly rare event when an original-bodied Duesenberg with the specification, pedigree, provenance and rarity of SJ528 comes to market. For the confirmed collector of the finest custom-coachbuilt cars of the Classic Era, SJ528 is very likely the finest example available today.
This long wheelbase convertible sedan displays many of the features and design details for which the later production cars are known. The skirted front fenders give the car a more modern look, as do the 17” diameter drop-center wheels. As one of Murphy’s most popular bodies for the Model J chassis, the design was continually improved. This example has the very sporty and desirable, highly-raked windshield with Murphy’s signature ultra-thin posts, as well as the cockpit-inspired, deeply curved cowl line that continues beautifully from behind the windshield into the front doors. When it left the factory, 2437 was fitted with Marchal reflectors within the Twilite headlamp shells, an unusual factory option that the car still retains.
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.
This model SJ Duesenberg, chassis number 2596, was built for Russian Prince Serge M’Divani, an aristocrat and marital ‘opportunist.’ Its Bohman & Schwartz-built body is unique in design. A one-of-a-kind, the car has numerous recognizable Bohman & Schwartz styling ideas. The car is believed to have been bought for Prince M’Divani by Barbara Hutton, heir to the Woolworth fortune. Not long after M’Divani’s death in a polo accident, the car was acquired by automotive engineer Jerry Gabby, who, during his thirty years of ownership, raced the car up Pikes Peak and had other road exploits including a drive from Dayton, Ohio, to Tucson, Arizona, much of it at speeds well above 100 mph.
1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Bohman & Schwartz Town Cabriolet – sold for $4,400,000 Considered the most beautiful formal town car of the period, this outstanding one-off creation was penned by Christian Bohman and Maurice Schwartz. Commissioned by Mars Candy Company heiress Ethel Mars, SJ553 is one of just 36 factory supercharged Duesenbergs, and one of the few to retain its original coachwork, drivetrain, and chassis. It remains a superlative example of the art of custom coachbuilding in America. Auction Source: 2007 Monterey Preview