HomeThe MarketDuesenberg SJ sets Auctions America record, bringing $2.3 million at Auburn

Duesenberg SJ sets Auctions America record, bringing $2.3 million at Auburn


Led by a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton that brought $2.3 million in a post-block transaction, Auctions America sold more than 500 vehicles at what appears to be its final sale — the 2017 Auburn Fall — this past weekend. The sell-through rate for collector vehicles was 72 percent and sales were more than $18.85 million.

In addition, more than 250 lots of automobilia were sold, bringing total sales for the weekend to nearly $19.2 million, the auction company announced.

The Duesenberg sales price was the highest in Auctions America’s history, the company said. During the sale, RM Sotheby’s founder and chief executive Rob Myers said that beginning next spring, the twice-a-year Auburn Auctions will be staged under the RM Sotheby’s banner. A similar move was made earlier this year regarding the Auctions America sale in Santa Monica, California.

1933 Duesenberg draws a huge crowd | RM Sotheby’s photo

That forthcoming move was apparent to visitors to the recent sale, with cars displayed along a red carpet at the sales area entrance and with large RM Sotheby’s-style vehicle illustrations along the walls. Gone to tented outdoor locations were the vendor booths that usually shared the entry way with the featured vehicles.

Auction setting has a definite RM Sotheby’s atmosphere | Larry Edsall photo

The ’33 Duesenberg, with coachwork by LaGrande, also was known as the “Mexico City SJ.” Originally delivered to New York stock trader Bernard Smith, the car went to Mexico as part of an investment by Smith and his son in a horse racing facility, the Hippodrome de las Americas. The car returned to the U.S. in 1968 when purchased by a doctor from Alabama. Subsequent owners included prominent car collector, Gen. William Lyon.

The car’s pre-sale estimated value was $2.5 million to $3 million. The final sales price of $2.3 million includes the buyer’s premium.

The second-high seller at the auction was another Duesenberg, a 1929 Model J convertible coupe bodied by Fleetwood. It sold for $990,000.

The third-high sale was a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, a Bloomington Gold winner and the 127th of the 300 built for the sports car’s first model year.

Top 10 sales, Auctions America Auburn Fall 2017

  1. 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton by LaGrande, $2,300,000
  2. 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible coupe by Fleetwood, $990,000
  3. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, $269,500
  4. 1937 Packard Twelve coupe roadster, $261,250
  5. 1958 Buick Limited convertible, $239,250
  6. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Chevelle, $187,000
  7. 2003 Delahaye custom boattail speedster, $181,500
  8. 1936 Pierce-Arrow Twelve town car prototype by Derham, $170,500
  9. 1931 Cadillac V8 roadster by Fleetwood, $169,400
  10. 1932 Packard Eight sport phaeton, $166,100

(Prices include buyer’s fees.)

Auctions America noted that the ’31 Cadillac was offered at no reserve and more than doubled its low pre-sale estimate. The ’58 Buick Limited was another no reserve offering that also sold well beyond its pre-sale expectation.

Among cars bid to top-10 numbers but not hammered sold because of seller’s reserves were a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II drophead coupe ($340,000), a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray “Supernova” race car ($275,000), a 1983 Ferrari 512 BBI ($255,000) and a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet ($250,000).

“We’re proud of our success in restoring the Auburn Auction Park and bringing the annual Auburn Spring and Fall events to new heights,” Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America, said in the post-sale news release.

“Thanks to our international marketing reach and in response to client demand, we’ve been able to continually increase the quality of cars on offer at Auburn Fall, which shone through this year in a 26 percent increase in the average sale price per lot.

“The Auburn Auction Park is rooted in collector car history. We have already invested significant resources in the Park and look forward to furthering this investment in an effort to elevate the client experience and seamlessly serve the entire spectrum of the collector car market.

“The RM Group of Companies, myself included, is a team driven by passion. My own passion is one ignited by my late father, Tiny Gould, who was responsible for the modern classic car auction. My father brought me to the Auburn Auction Park from a young age and it’s a place I’ve associated with my entire career. The twice-a-year Auburn sales will continue the great collector car tradition that fuels Auburn, Indiana, and I look forward to being part of the team that draws even more new interest to this hobby we all love.”

In the release, Myers added:“I have been coming to Auburn for more than 30 years, both on my own and with the RM Group of Companies, and I have no plans of stopping. The Auburn Auction Park and the events we hold here are an integral part of our business. We are deeply committed to continuing this great tradition and putting on an even more successful Auburn Fall in 2018.

“We look forward to sharing further details later this year.”

Featured cars showcased at auction arena entrance | Larry Edsall photo



Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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