Unique 1932 Duesenberg Model J headlines Mecum’s Arizona sale

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Duesenberg
The Duesenberg has a one-off body by Rollston | Mecum photos

For its first collector car foray into Arizona, Mecum Auctions will be led by a piece of automotive royalty, a 1932 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline with one-of-a-kind coachwork by Rollston.

The Duesenberg will be among 1,250 vehicles crossing the block during Mecum’s inaugural Arizona auction,  which takes place March 14-17 at State Farm Stadium, the huge facility in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale where the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals play their home games.

Duesenberg
Mecum will auction the Duesy at its inaugural Arizona sale

In lustrous silver with a gray interior, and accented by gleaming Art Deco flourishes, the Duesenberg is a unique expression of 1930s styling with a singular design created by Rollston, the New York carrozzeria famous for beautiful bodies supplied for Duesenberg owners as well as those of other top luxury marques.

But then as now, Duesenberg stands at the pinnacle of the greatest and most advanced, as well as most expensive, automobiles from that pre-war decade of style and innovation, as well as world economic and political turmoil.

While no estimated value is given by Mecum for this restored example, classic Model Js often sail at auction into seven-figure waters.

Duesenberg
The car has been well-kept since its 1990 restoration

“One of the most magnificent and unique automobiles of the 20th century, this 1932 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline by Rollston is a treasured expression of the automotive magic conjured by the legend-making partnership of E.L. Cord and Fred Duesenberg,” Mecum notes in its catalog description.

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“More than 80 years after the last example was completed and the company closed its doors forever, the Duesenberg Model J is still considered one of the most fabulous automobiles ever built.

“Conceived by Errett Lobban Cord, who purchased Duesenberg, Inc., in 1925 and challenged Fred Duesenberg to build ‘the world’s finest motor car,’ the Model J offered literally the ultimate in engineering sophistication, luxury, power, performance and road manners, and it was dressed in an astonishing variety of body styles by the exceptional coachbuilders of the day, from sporty two-seat roadsters to lavish town cars and majestic limousines.”

Duesenberg
The beautiful DOHC straight-8 engine was designed by Fred Duesenberg

The Duesy, chassis 2574 and engine J546, has a known history of ownership since it rolled out of the Indiana factory, the catalog says, and originally was purchased by a descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt. A comprehensive restoration of the car by Scott Veasie of Hollywood, California, was completed in 1990 while the car was part of the Imperial Palace Auto Collection.

Other noted collections that have owned the Duesenberg include the Blackhawk Collection, John O’Quinn Collection, Gen. William Lyon Collection and the Dean V. Kruse Foundation. The car has been owned since 2010 by the Academy of Art University Collection in San Francisco.

The car is fully documented and has Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg certification as a Category 1 numbers-matching car, the original 420cid, dual-overhead-cam straight-8 engine still under its extravagantly long hood. The outside set of exhaust headers are as much decorative as they are functional.

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For more information about Mecum’s first Arizona sale, visit the auction website.


Read more about Mecum’s Phoenix auction:

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

3 COMMENTS

  1. ….. I had to look twice as I first thought San Sylmar had the Nethercutts rolling over in their graves by sending the "Twenty-Grand" out to auction. The 1932 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Berline is "almost" a dead ringer for Gordon Buehrig’s Duesenberg version. At first glance the differences are barely noticeable. However, a second look and the differences in the roof lines speak for themselves. Another view of the rear illustrates the differences there too. Either way, both are in the stratosphere of value AND dreams!

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