What A Duesey

Hollywood history abounds

Larry Jewett - January 22, 2014 09:00 AM


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No American car even approached the grandeur of the Duesenberg Model J when it made its first public appearance at the New York Salon on December 1, 1928, an event for which trading was temporarily halted on the New York Stock Exchange. By then, the company was the property of E.L. Cord, whose plan was to exploit the Duesenberg name and engineering expertise to produce “The World’s Finest Motor Car.” Its masterfully designed 420 CI dual-overhead-camshaft straight-8 engine was fitted with four valves per cylinder and produced an astounding 265 HP and 374 ft-lb of torque, enabling a second-gear speed of 90 mph and a top speed of 116 using a three-speed transmission.
America was in the grip of the Great Depression when this 1930 Model J Torpedo Berline Convertible, engine number J-391, chassis 2315, and body 952 was completed by Walter M. Murphy Coachbuilders of Pasadena, California as a demonstrator for Duesenberg’s Los Angeles sales branch. Originally painted in Washington Blue, it was sold to Hollywood screen writer Gene Markey. A series of owners in the 1940s included James Talmadge (son of Buster Keaton and Norma Talmadge), who in 1952 traded the car to actor Tyrone Power for a new MG. Power owned the car until his death in 1958, after which it was sold to J.B. Nethercutt and then to Bill Harrah's Auto Museum in Reno, Nevada. It was then purchased in 1986 by Joseph Folladori of Indianapolis, who restored it and finished it in its present color scheme. In 1991 it became part of Las Vegas’ fabulous Imperial Palace Auto Collection, after which it was in the care of several short-term owners until its purchase by the prestigious John O’Quinn Collection.
Furthermore, J-391 participated in March of 1998 as one of six Duesenbergs specially invited to the Geneva Automobile Show in Switzerland, was featured in the November 1952 issue of Road & Track and was more recently immortalized by Beverly Rae Kimes in "A Duesie's Dozen, The Ownership Ancestry of J-391." Presented in stunning concours condition, this unique Model J has been judged as an ACD-Certified Category 1 Original with the original engine, chassis and body.
See more about this unique car at It will be sold on Saturday, January 25 as Lot S158

Mecum TV Schedule

Wed., Jan. 22  2 p.m.  Esquire Network
Thurs., Jan. 23  2 p.m.  Esquire Network
Fri., Jan. 24  1 p.m.  NBCSN
Fri., Jan. 24  6:30 p.m. Esquire Network
Sat., Jan. 25  10 a.m.  NBCSN
Sat., Jan. 25  12 p.m. Esquire Network
Sun., Jan. 26  10 a.m.  NBCSN
Sun., Jan. 26  3:30 p.m. NBC