Bring a Trailer is known for its tantalizing cars and jaw-dropping final auction prices. Most vehicles on the platforms sell for mind-boggling amounts of money that normal people would never pay for a used car. But some cars — like this 1935 Duesenberg Model “JN” convertible — are going to be intensely expensive no matter where they end up. The auction has 10 days to go and it’s already at $900,000, making it one of the most expensive vehicles listed on Bring a Trailer.
For comparison, the most expensive vehicle listed on the platform so far was a 1957 BMW 507 Series II that bid up to $1,957,507. The car apparently didn’t sell to the highest bidder, instead being sold to another bidder for an undisclosed amount. In second place is a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL that sold for the comical amount of $1,234,567. This Duesenberg joins a list of rare classics going into the hands of people with serious cash to burn.
But what do you get when you drop about a million dollars on a Duesenberg?
You get a coachbuilt museum-quality roadster and so much more. Duesenberg was known for its extravagant American luxury and its cars were often driven by famous people of the day. The company was also known for is race cars.
As the ad says, Duesenberg Motors Company was based out of Indianapolis and was acquired by E.L. Cord in 1926. Cord instructed Fred Duesenberg to build the fastest and most luxurious American cars ever, and the $8,500 Model J is the result. Buyers spent the equivalent of $132,263 to get a bare chassis that needed to be finished by a coachbuilder.
This car is chassis 2,593 and it’s one of 10 Duesenberg Model Js to get updated by Rollston, a coachbuilder with a history of making striking Duesenbergs.
These were designed by Duesenberg’s chief designer, Herbert J. Newport, and are given an unofficial model designation of “JN”. Rollston reportedly updated the Model J Duesenberg by giving it 2-inch smaller diameter wheels, bodies set right on the frame rails, skirted fenders and other changes to make them look more modern.
The Bring a Trailer ad seems to have this Duesenberg’s complete history. It was purchased by Herbert N. Lape, Sr. of Cincinnati, Ohio. Then it moved around to California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Nevada through the years before finally rolling up to a display at the Imperial Palace Casino in Las Vegas. It stayed at the Casino from 1993 to 1998 before heading back to California.
The car finished the 1990s by getting refurbished, right before being purchased by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation in 2000. IMS brought the car home and kept it in its possession until now.
Fitting, as the speedway was a testing place for Duesenberg chassis.
The car’s also had some color changes over the years from red to yellow and red to its current hue of very dark blue with pinstripes.
The interior looks like an inviting place to sit and there are some interesting highlights in there. The dashboard gauges has an altimeter and the shift knob is made of marble. The car’s headlights also turn with its wheels.
The beauty under the hood is a 6.8-liter straight-eight designed by Duesenberg and produced by Lycoming.
It made 265 horsepower, a blistering figure for the day and I’m willing to bet would still feel way too fast today. Keep in mind that the brakes and tires on this thing are far from modern.
That’s mounted to a three-speed manual transmission.
This Duesenberg is bound to get more expensive in the 10 days remaining on the clock, but for now it’s only for the sweet price of $900,000. Please, someone buy this and drive it.
Correction: It appears a number of instances incorrectly spelled ‘Duesenberg’. Those have been fixed. I regret the error.