Duesenberg Model J 1928

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In those years, the company’s advertising slogan was, “The only car that could outrun a Duesenberg was another Duesenberg. It was the fastest production car designed for public roads. And it was created to compete with such stunning cars as; – Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza and Rolls-Royce. The creators of this American masterpiece did not see competitors in Cadillac, Pierce-Arrow, Packard and Marmon. Although in the early 30’s, and they have released a very decent car with a powerful V12 and V16 engines.


The engine in the Duesenberg Model J was an inline eight-cylinder. An engine of such design was used on the magnificent Mercedes 770. Getting ahead of the curve, both cars used a mechanical supercharger. But even in the non-supercharged atmospheric version, with a smaller displacement and half the number of cylinders, the Model J produced significantly more power than the Cadillac V16 1930, Packard Twelve 1932 and Marmon Sixteen 1930. The Model J had a specific power output of 38.44 horsepower per gallon.

At that time, it was an impressive figure for an atmospheric engine. By the way, Duesenberg produced its cars in Indianapolis, where Marmon cars were from. Note that the V12 was used on the Packard Twin Six as early as 1915. Obviously, the creators of the Model J saw advantages in the layout they chose.
Work on this iconic American car began in 1926. That’s when Erret Loban Kord bought the company Duesenberg. But he not just included the company into his concern, where already were Cord and Auburn. But he made Fred Duesenberg vice-president and charged him with creating the best car in the world. So looking at the Model J, you can see what the vision of the best car in the world was, in Fred Duesenberg’s eyes. We’ll talk a little bit about price below, but I’ll note here that it was also the most expensive, American car.


The Duesenberg Model J was shown on December 1, 1928. So this car came out a year before the Great Depression. Of course, the collapse of the financial market could not contribute to good sales. Instead of the planned 500 cars per year, 200 were sold in the 29th – the year before the depression. Another 100 cars found their owners in ’30.

And by the 36th, when the production of the Model J was stopped, it was possible to sell 470 of these cars. It turns out that during the 7 years of production were sold as many cars as it was planned to sell each year. Almost half of the Model J had open bodies. I want to note, that in ’29 the car was also shown in Paris. By such demonstration Erret Loban Kord wished to attract attention of rich Europeans, who were aimed at Rolls-Royce and other, cool cars from Europe.


Such a result is hard to call good, but some automakers were even less fortunate. So Marmon produced its Sixteen in the midst of the Great Depression. And during three years of production, it produced only 350 of its own, sixteen-cylinder cars. Which were considerably cheaper than the Duesenberg cars.
In ’32, in spite of the Great Depression, was presented a compressor modification – the SJ. The latter had even more impressive characteristics, and in terms of power surpassed even the compressor Mercedes 770.



The cost of the Duesenberg Model J 1928.


It was possible to buy a new Model J in ’29 for $8,500. Later the price went up to $9,500. Perhaps the company felt that those who bought such cars during the Great Depression, $1,000 is not important. An important clarification! Duesenberg sold only the chassis with the engine, and the bodies for their cars were made by the best, body companies. Therefore, to the cost of a $9,500 chassis, which is equivalent to $169,000 today, the cost of the body should have been added as well. Usually the finished car cost $15,000. Two examples are known to have sold for $25,000, the equivalent of $500,000 these days.
In ’23, a gorgeous, restored, atmospheric engine sold for $120,000.


For its price, the Model J outperformed any, American car. And the chassis that appeared in the ’32 compressor SJ was already $11,750!
Today, the cost of Duesenberg Model J is almost always more than $ 4,000,000. Such a car could be a good investment. Especially since many of them were owned by celebrities. Thus, one car belonged to Al Capone. The latter had an armored Cadillac V16 in his garage. Besides gangsters, such cars were bought by famous actors, politicians and statesmen.



Let’s take a look at the pictures of the Duesenberg Model J.
Visually, these Duesenbergs can be quite different from each other. In fact, as mentioned above, the bodies on these are not standard, but custom made. The best bodybuilders in the United States worked for the Model J. Among them were such companies as; – Murphy Holbrook, Derham, LeBaron, Weimann. More than 20ati bodybuilders tried to give the Model J an individual look.
The car was available in two wheelbases, the 142.5d (3.6m) and the 153.5d (3.9m). The machine has 19-inch wheels.


The SJ is easily identified by the exhaust manifold shrouds that extend through the right side of the hood. The removal of the exhaust manifold outside of the engine compartment was caused by the installation of a mechanical compressor to the right of the engine. There was simply no space left for the exhaust manifold. But this later became a feature of the SJ. Some Model J atmospheric owners even paid $927 each to install such an attribute on their car.
And although the bodies for the Duesenberg were made to order. Such basic elements as, – the hood, lights, grille and bumpers did the main designer – Gordon B├╝rig.
There are special boxes under the doors. The same solution was used in the Cadillac V16. One of these boxes is installed battery.



In the interior.
The gas pedal has the shape of a shoe sole, or shoe. The speedometer is programmed to an impressive 150 miles per hour. And there are separate gauges for the rear passengers, where they could see the speed at which they are being driven by the hired driver.

Engine and specifications of the Duesenberg Model J.


Nothing is as interesting in this car as the engine. We are talking about an inline eight-cylinder unit with 420 cubic inches (6,576 cubic centimeters). As you can see, the engine capacity of the Duesenberg is less than that of most of the premium cars of those years. At the same time, the Model J was the most powerful and fastest production car.

The engine has a stroke of 4.76d (126.6mm) and a cylinder diameter of 3.74d (95.23mm). The compression ratio is 5.2:1. A feature of this power unit is the presence of two camshafts and four valves per cylinder. These solutions have significantly improved the purging in the combustion chambers, and consequently the power. The engine is fed through a Schelber dual-chamber carburetor. Fuel was supplied to the carburetor by four fuel pumps. One of these was mechanical and the other three were electric. A powerful oil pump pump pumped 22 gallons of engine oil per minute. The cooling system held eight gallons (20 liters) of fluid.


The engine block is made of cast iron and the oil pan is cast aluminum. Unlike some cars of those years, the oil pan is removable here. The crankshaft is mounted on 5 pins.
The maximum power of the Duesenberg Model J is 265 hp at 4250 rpm. It is worth noting here that the Cadillac V16 and Marmon Sixteen reached maximum power at lower rpm, but they have less horsepower. Maximum torque is 507N.M. And while that’s less than the Marmon, it’s more than the Cadillac.
Notably, this, a terrific engine, though designed by Duesenberg, was made by Lycoming, which was also owned by Cord.


The Duesenberg Model J can reach 60 miles (100km) per hour in 13 seconds. In 21 seconds a Duesenberg can accelerate to 100 miles (160km). By comparison, a Cadillac V16 takes 24 seconds to reach 100 miles and a Marmon Sixteen takes 20 seconds. It turns out that the Duesenberg could hit 100mph at a time when the Marmon would only accelerate to 60mph.
Do you know how fast that car was? After all, both the Cadillac V16 and the Marmon Sixteen are terrific, some of the most powerful cars of their time.


The more powerful, compressor-powered SJ developed 320 horsepower! Mind you, this is the ’32! Maximum power reached at 4,200 rpm. With this engine SJ accelerated to 60 miles in just 8.4 seconds and could reach a top speed of 224kph. August Duesenberg worked on the compressor version. For better handling, the compressor car had stiffer springs.
Unlike other expensive cars from the USA, the Duesenberg received not mechanical, but hydraulic brakes! With the help of a special regulator, the driver could adjust the sensitivity of the brakes right from the cabin. The brakes could be loosened on icy roads and made as effective as possible on dry asphalt. This was made possible by an adjustable, vacuum-activated brake booster. Drum brakes were installed on all wheels. Diameter was 15 inches and width was 3 inches.
There was also a very special modification of the SSJ. Only two copies of this machine were built and it developed 400 horsepower! Just imagine such power on a road car in the first half of the 30s. The famous actor Gary Cooper and Clark Gable had such a car.

Unfortunately, Cord corporation was not as strong as Ford, or GM. Thus, besides Duesenberg Model J, during the great depression it produced Cord 810 and Auburn 851. Which wowed everyone with technical innovations, but sold poorly. Poor sales robbed the company of its livelihood. In addition, Fred Duesenberg died in ’32. So because of the blows of fate, Errett Loban Kord sold the corporation and decided to pursue other lines of business.
The Duesenberg Model J was one of the greatest and most brilliant cars in history. It overshadowed many, other, luxury cars from America. And perhaps, had it not been for the Great Depression, the company might have reached its sales target in the second or third year of sales. Unfortunately, the Duesenberg, Auburn and Cord brands have disappeared. Though these cars still exist today, and some collectors even drive them out on public roads.

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