One of the last barn find Duesenberg Model J's headed to Gooding & Co Amelia Island sale

 In what can be billed as one of the last of its kind barn finds, an ultra rare 1931 Duesenberg Model J  "Disappearing Top" Convertible Coupes will headline the Gooding & Co Amelia Island auction February 29th-March 1st, 2024. 

With an estimate of $2,750,000 – $3,500,000. The 1931 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe offered here, is one of the most iconic and sought-after classic cars in the world. The un restored Model J was recently recomissioned after 55 years in storage in a private Illinois garage from 1967 to 2022. With single family ownership going back to 1961.

According to Gooding & Co, The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California fitted bodies for 140 of the 481 Model Js built in total, and of the 52 convertible coupes it outfitted, with only a mere 25 featuring the disappearing-top design, delivered to the automaker’s most elite clientele. J-346 was listed as a factory demonstrator before acquisition by its first owner, Gene Gordon Culver of New York. Culver came from a prominent stove manufacturing family and was the grandson of Culver Military Academy founder Henry Harrison Culver. In 1938, J-346 passed on to David Archibald Smart, the co-founder and publisher of Esquire magazine. It later went on to Sigurd Olsen of Chicago before relocating to Cincinnati, where it lived with its fourth owner, William A. Burns, Jr. Burns displayed the Model J at the Classic Car Club of America Annual Review 1954, and in 1956, registered the car with the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club. 

Out of sheer coincidence, in November 1959, Burns donated the Duesenberg to the Culver Military Academy for its “Motors Course.” When the Academy discontinued the course, J-346 was put up for sale in an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune, where it received over 50 inquiries from interested parties. Tom Hawkinson purchased the car, and it remained with his family for 61 years. Upon discovery, this garage-find Model J was sent to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where it was acquired by its current owner. The car was returned to running order, and unoriginal fender modifications were removed, bringing the car back to its as-delivered specification. J-346 still retains its original instrumentation on the dashboard, including a Taylor altimeter, Stewart-Warner speedometer and tachometer, an eight-day Jaeger chronograph, and a pair of Stromberg windshield wiper motors. Following its refreshening, J-346 debuted at the ACD Festival in September 2023 before being displayed at the Hershey Fall Meet in October. According to the consignor, marque authority Randy Ema noted that this is one of the last Duesenberg Model Js to come out of hiding, making this an opportunity that will surely never be repeated. 

It's impossible to disagree with Mr. Ema, Duesenberg Model J's certainly aren't growing on trees, and there can't be many more left hiding in sheds and garages that haven't seen the light of day in half a century. We happened to spy this magnificent Duesey at the fall AACA meet in Hershey, and the next owner of this classic. Hopefully it does not get restored completely as classics like this are truly only original once.