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Duesenberg J446 History



“The heart of the Model J Duesenberg was the massive powerhouse of an engine complex sporting twin overhead camshafts that controlled four inclined valves, two inlet and two exhaust per cylinder, displacing 420 ci (6,882 cc). The great five bearing crankshaft alone was reputed to weigh 150 lb. Even with the modest 5.2:1 compression ratio of the standard engine, the surge of power was awesome, thrusting a Phaeton, very completely equipped and no lightweight, from 10-80 mph in top gear in 22 seconds and providing a maximum of 116 mph. Matched to the engine was a very capable chassis, double dropped for a low center of gravity and provided with six sturdy cross-members. Endless care was lavished on the details. In addition to the 150 mph speedometer, the combined clock and stop-watch altimeter, barometer and brake pressure dials, there was the famous engine-driven timing box of planetary gears controlling lights to warn the driver to change the engine oil every 700 miles and check the battery water every 1,400 miles, together with other functions.

“However, it was on the Continent where Duesenberg’s new concept of magnificent motoring had special appeal for the sportsman and the nobility. Among this group, whose sybaritic desire for living existed at the highest level, there numbered some of the greatest motor car connoisseurs of all time. The world’s showroom was in Paris and it was here that the majority of the European Duesenbergs were to be sold. Motor Deluxe, headed by E.Z. Sadovich with showrooms at 12, rue de Berri in Paris, was the leading overseas outlet for Duesenberg, both in point of sales and in promotional activity. In attracting Europe’s motoring nobility to the new Duesenberg, Mr. Sadovich recalled in particular his success at the 1931 Paris Salon when he sold fourteen Duesenbergs between October and January! At this same exhibition the President of the French Republic made a special visit to the Duesenberg stand to examine the two J models on display, both of which carried Franay bodies. Mr. Sadovich’s publicity presented the J as ‘the fastest, most beautiful, most powerful, and most expensive car in the world.’

“Chassis J-446, the car on offer here, was one of these two J models with Franay coachwork on display at the 1931 Paris Salon, and was built on the 153″ long wheelbase chassis. The fabulous Deusenberg was in fact purchased by Her Majesty Queen Marie of Yugoslavia and she later commanded her Lady of Honor to express her entire satisfaction with the “absolute security” of her Duesenberg at high speed, its “grand comfort, remarkable suppleness, and supreme elegance.” Clearly she was extremely impressed with her new purchase.

“Subsequently, and it is not known exactly when, the car was purchased by Antonio Chopitea of Lima, Peru, who, with his two brothers, owned several other Duesenbergs ranging from a Speedster to a Sport-Formal Sedan. He kept the car in Paris and it then passed to a Parisian brewer before being shipped to Mr. G.L.William Guilbert in Troy, New York. He subsequently sold it to E. Romerez in New York city. By 1941 the car was with a Mr. Warriner from Maryland. During his ownership the fenders were changed from the original long flowing factory type to the Pontoon type that it still wears today. The next recorded owner is W.E. Howell of Oklahoma followed by a Mr. Schreiber in New Jersey and then Earl Clarke of Pennsylvania. In May 1977 the car passed to Charles Goodman who kept it until 1995.

“After an extensive restoration completed in 1996 it won the Pre War Touring Class award at the inaugural Louis Vuitton Classic at Rockefeller Center that September and then a First in Class at the 1997 CCCA Annual Experience at Hickory Corners. At the 1997 Meadowbrook Concours it won the Meadowbrook Memorial Trophy.”

-excerpt from the May 18th, 2002 Christies Classic Car Auction catalog