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Little Dues Coupe


Earlier today after I dropped my son off for school, I saw what I thought was a mirage brought on by morning exhaustion and a lack of caffeine. A Duesenberg is such a rare sight that I never thought I would actually come across one in the wild, but there at the end of a gravel driveway leading up to a huge horse farm was a Duesenberg J LaGrande Phaeton.

At the time of his acquiring Duesenberg Motors Company in 1925, E.L. Cord wanted to build the biggest, fastest car in America, and he wanted it to blow European cars off the road. He accomplished this feat with the Model J, which actually came in a huge number of configurations that were almost all customizable and meant to ship to secondary coachbuilders to be custom-appointed to the exact tastes of the buyer.

The common thread through all of the Js was the immensely powerful straight-eight that pushed the Dues to a top speed of 119mph, a remarkable feat for the time. 10 supercharged Js, designated the SJN, were produced in 1935 by Rollston Coachworks, and although it is difficult to find exact data, it is said that the SJN could push near 150mph top speed.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t muster the nerve to flag down the driver and ask him about the car, but considering the pedigree of Duesenberg owners including Al Capone, Greta Garbo, Mae West, and William Randolph Hearts, I’m sure that he was a gentleman of fine taste. I certainly hope that the J actually lives nearby so that I might encounter this particular unicorn again someday soon and get a closer look.

-Trey Fennell

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