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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:55 pm 
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More pictures of Joao's J-386-1933


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1933 Duesenberg J Bohman & Schwartz Convertible.jpg
1933 Duesenberg J Bohman & Schwartz Convertible.jpg [ 158.81 KiB | Viewed 1661 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:59 pm 
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And last but not least JN 1936 Convertible Sedan at Blakhawk Museum
J 544-2570 1936 Nonoriginal white with red interior.


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1936 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Sedan-white-fVr.jpg
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Last edited by Aymami on Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 8:16 pm 
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This last car is the same as the one described as
"A very curious one...SJ 1936...missing?"


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:10 pm 
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AYMAMI wrote:
1935 SJ Roadster, (Oh my!)


Chassis No. 2596. Engine No. J-509

Three more pics and a promotional text from Gooding & Co.

The Marrying M'Divanis

The famed M’Divanis were the children of Soviet Georgian nobles who fled Russia during WWI. Despite their semi-royal status, the men of the family earned a reputation as socialites, lotharios and womanizers, and the soi-disant Prince Serge M’Divani could best be described as “a count of no account.” Once he had settled in the US, Prince M’Divani and his brothers were connected to some of the wealthiest women in America and were known to marry each other’s former lovers and even former wives. Such was the situation that led to the construction of this magnificent Duesenberg. In 1933, Barbara Hutton, the heiress to the Woolworth fortune and socialite par excellence, had fallen for Alexis M’Divani, the brother of Serge M’Divani. Believing his affair with Hutton would turn out to be even more promising, Alexis had recently divorced Louise Astor Van Alen. Throughout their marriage, both brothers took great advantage of Hutton’s incredible wealth and status, and were in receipt of money, gifts and property. Hutton was well known for her extravagant generosity, and the car presented here is a fitting example of her remarkable largesse. Nothing quite says “exceptional gift” like a one-off coachbuilt Duesenberg SJ, the most expensive and most exclusive American automobile of its time.

Bohman & Schwartz

Every coachbuilder has a design that clearly stands above the others for its use of proportion, daring construction methods and harmony of theme and detail. Among Duesenberg enthusiasts, coachbuilding connoisseurs and designers, this one-off SJ Roadster is hailed as the most successful Bohman & Schwartz design for the Duesenberg chassis and an absolute triumph in the art of coachbuilding. The original design was the work of W. Everett Miller, a highly regarded freelance designer and one of the true artists of the Classic Era. Along with De Sakhnoffsky, Al Leamy, Harley Earl and Raymond Dietrich, W. Everett Miller is regarded as one of the most important and influential designers of the 1930s, an era that is seen as the zenith of the coachbuilt automobile. By the 1930s, Miller had worked as a head designer for two of the finest American firms, Murphy and Locke & Co, and was enlisted by Packard to create a number of stunning designs. This car was a fascinating segue in Miller’s style that reflected both his restrained use of line and detailing as well as his newfound use of Art Deco themes.

This roadster features a number of remarkable treatments that are unique to this particular car. Alas, Bohman & Schwartz never used these cues again as, by 1936, the supply of Duesenberg chassis was limited. The tight, restrained proportions and clean fresh lines of this model are rarely seen on other Bohman & Schwartz Duesenbergs that, more often than not, incorporated the cues of the very coachwork they modified. The difference with this Model SJ is that it was one of only a handful of clean-sheet designs executed by Bohman & Schwartz on a bare chassis, rather than an updated version of a pre-existing body.

The fender treatment has a number of particularly important features. The tops of the front fenders are introduced from a unique lower valance that truncates the lower half of the tall grille. The fenders flow up and over the tops of the front wheels before tapering down near the cabin. There one finds a subtle yet instantly noticeable bulge that serves to separate the rear of the front fender from the continuous running board that begins at the same location. The upper fender line continues into the running board and rear fenders, while the bottom line returns to the rear of the front wheel. At the rear fender, the running board line becomes a pronounced ground line that rises gently toward the rear of the car.

This graceful tapering is echoed on the upper portions as well. The door lines are capped by a clean, crisp surround molding that creates the feeling that one is in a cockpit; a feeling that is further augmented by the deep cowl, short-raked vee-shaped windscreen and deeply recessed instrument fascia. Its refined rear fender and deck lines are established by a lovely dipped beltline that begins to the rear of the vee’d windscreen and continues until the rear of the line terminates behind the rear bumper. It should also be noted that much of the body was constructed in alloy – a rare instance, as the vast majority of Duesenberg bodies only use steel.

Beyond its cohesive overall theme, this car carries a number of brilliant Art Deco and aero-influenced features that are, again, unique to this particular car. Almost every leading edge on the car has been vee’d – from the tips of the fenders, to the fresh air vents on the cowl, to the radiator itself. While these features are unique, they emphasize the sporting nature of the design and contribute a discreet yet dashing flair to an otherwise elegant and restrained design. Other one-of-a-kind details include unique door handles and interior hardware that cannot be seen on any other Duesenberg, and handsome accessories include a single-covered, rearmounted spare, complete this magnificent Duesenberg Roadster.

Subsequent History

Prince Serge M’Divani took delivery of this supercharged Duesenberg Roadster in 1935. Its rakish good looks, grandeur and unbridled power were more than the prince could resist. There is no doubt that the prince himself had an irresistible charm and charisma that drew women to him, even the wives of his siblings, and shortly after receiving the SJ, he married his brother’s ex-wife, Louise Astor Van Alen. Presumably, the car was briefly used in Los Angeles, just after leaving the Bohman & Schwartz coachworks, and when he moved eastward in February 1936, the SJ went with him.

Less than a month after their marriage, Serge M’Divani entered an international polo tournament in Palm Beach, Florida. During an early match, his horse collided with another. M’Divani was thrown from his horse and was kicked in the head, killing him instantly. After Prince M’Divani’s untimely death, Turner & Blood, the famed New York Chrysler dealer, took possession of the famous Duesenberg and offered it for sale. According to the ACD Club, Melvin Clemens of Bridgeport, West Virginia, purchased the Duesenberg sight unseen. After some use, Mr. Clemens took the car to J. Roger Davis, a well-known Duesenberg mechanic who undertook a thorough mechanical rebuild of the supercharged engine. It is now believed that under Clemens’ ownership, the car’s original engine, J-572, was placed in chassis 2268. The Prince M’Divani SJ was then given a replacement engine in the form of a Duesenberg factory-display SJ engine, J-509, which had yet to be used in any other car. For over a decade, the car remained in Clemens’ hands until it was sold to Mr. Jerry Gebby.

Jerry Gebby, a gun engineer who lived in Dayton, Ohio, discovered this Duesenberg at the end of WWII. He was one of the first Duesenberg enthusiasts and Indianapolis 500 historians, and in spite of his lack of funds, his enthusiasm for great sports cars ensured that he owned some of the all-time great automobiles, including Mercer, Stutz and Packard. His adroit engineer’s mindset, his admiration for the grand Duesenberg marque and his love of Indianapolis history made this car his favorite, and he treasured the SJ for over 30 years. Mr. Gebby was a man of very modest means. In 1935, he would have never been in a position to own such a fine automobile; however, by the 1950s, a Duesenberg was relatively affordable. Although a Duesenberg no longer carried the prestige and instant recognition that it had before the wars, Mr. Gebby cherished the car and was said to have kept his beloved possession chained to a tree next to his humble abode – little more than a static mobile home.

Soon after acquiring his Duesenberg, Mr. Gebby painted it black and affixed a special script that he designed to the front of the radiator. Not content with simply making cosmetic improvements, the engineer designed and created a unique four-carburetor manifold utilizing Stromberg 97s to coax as much power from the supercharged straight eight as possible. He also affixed a number of interesting “driver’s features,” including a prism that would allow him to more easily see when a stoplight changed from red to green, a useful feature for street racing. For many years, Gebby served as the President of the ACD Club, and his SJ was featured in the October 1953 issue of Speed Age and on the cover of the February 1959 ACD Newsletter. He attended countless ACD gatherings, participated in tours and even entered the car in competition. He was particularly fond of hill climbs and was known to have driven the SJ Roadster at the Giant’s Despair Hill Climb in Pennsylvania and later competed in the Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.

In August 1960, after moving to Tucson, Arizona, Mr. Gebby made an astonishing drive that Duesenberg historian Ray Wolff later recounted. Apparently, after the move, Mr. Gebby returned to Ohio to pick up his Duesenberg and to attend the Auburn meet. Following the event, he left Auburn during a thunderstorm and drove all the way to the west edge of Indianapolis before stopping for the night. The next day, after passing through St. Louis, Kansas City and Topeka, he entered the Kansas Turnpike and stood on the throttle, set the chronograph and performed an impromptu high-speed trial on public roads. Soon enough, he was watching mile markers fly by every 34 seconds and, according to Gebby, there was much more left in reserve. According to his calculations, taking the axle ratios and rpm into account, the Duesenberg was capable of a top speed approaching 130 mph. When he exited the ramp at Wichita, he had covered 129 miles at an average of 105 mph! His legendary trip continued on for 1,050 more miles that day.

The car remained in Mr. Gebby’s care until Steve Nanini, a well-known collector of great American classics, purchased the mighty SJ in the 1980s, toward the end of Mr. Gebby’s life. Mr. Nanini had the car comprehensively restored by highly admired Duesenberg authority Randy Ema, who dressed the coachwork in its current burgundy over tan color combination. Soon after the car was sold to famed collector John Mozart, who, many years later, sold it to Patrick Ryan, another highly regarded collector. In its current ownership, the SJ Roadster was invited to participate at the 2009 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where Bohman & Schwartz was featured. Fittingly, it easily won First in Class.


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:15 am 
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Fantastic post Michiel! Thank you.
I think it's time to put a little order here .


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:20 am 
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Michiel Mobiel wrote:
Let's collect all Duesenberg bodied by Bohman & Schwartz, preferably with chassis numbers.

Here's the first one:
From: http://www.autocollections.com/index.cf ... &cartable=

1929 Duesenberg J Bohman & Schwartz Berline Chassis #2143 - Engine# j-118.

Originally purchased by Mr. Art Kiel of Southern California. In 1934 the car was purchased by Mr. M.K. Barbie, head of the Coca-Cola company. Mr. Barbie then commissioned Bohman & Schwartz of Pasadena, California to restyle the car to its elegant form you see today. The car was then sold to Mr. Fred Buess Jr. of Venice, California in 1947. In 1963 the car was purchased by Mr. Homer Fitterling, a well known Duesenberg collector in Indiana. Mr. Fitterling owned the car for twenty years. The car was then purchased by Mrs. Geri Brown in 1983, who sold the car to Mr. Ed Weaver in 1993. The car was completely restored in 1996 – 1997 by one of the finest restorers in the country which resulted in a 1st in class at the 1997 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.


Ex Derham. Fished out from a channel, it was refurbished by Bohman & Schwartz and restyled by them with fender skirts and rear "shrouds" in 1935 for a new owner, M.K. Barbie of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Los Angeles. Originally a darker color, now gold with a light tan roof and brown cloth interior.


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:34 am 
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João Gazineu wrote:
1933 duesenberg model SJ roadster by bohman & schwartz #J-507

I don't know if it is exactly B&S.
Quote:
Ex-Derham Convertible Sedan 5/5, built for Harry Liebhart of Denver. Liebhart had the car rebodied with a streamlined front end by the Walton Body Shop of Denver and also had a streamlined Speedster body built for it, so that they could be switched interchangeably. In the 1950s he sold the Convertible Sedan body, now on J-170, and the chassis with the Walton body went to Bill Harrah from Dr. Edward Schulze of San Mateo, CA in 1958; Harrah used it as the basis for a replica of Weymann Speedster J-508, created by Maurice Schwartz. Schwartz started construction in 1959 but died a year later while working on it. Harrah Collection people finished it. The Walton Speedster body, now separated, went onto ANOTHER chassis, that of the Carail Speedster. WHEW! So basically, this car is everywhere now. Original chassis with Schwartz body sold by Christie's NYC for $501,000, April 29, 2000, now in Pasadena, California, and silver; at Harrah's it was red, then became black and tan.)

So let's say a Schwartz Weymann for instance. I'll post the one with the Walton body on Non specific


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:48 am 
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robgeelen wrote:
Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz


Picture above is Hibbard Darrin body J 277-2300


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:54 am 
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robgeelen wrote:
This last car is the same as the one described as
"A very curious one...SJ 1936...missing?"

I think it could be but I'm still investigating...


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:03 am 
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I've re-edited my posts putting serial numbers. More.
J 386-2421 1933 again and old pictures


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:08 am 
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More J 450-2457 limousine


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:09 am 
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More J 464-2479 convertible sedan


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1931 duesenberg convertible berline bohman.jpg
1931 duesenberg convertible berline bohman.jpg [ 144.35 KiB | Viewed 1661 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:23 am 
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Yet two more:

J 580-2610 town car.
Last of 13 Judkins Berlines. Extensively rebuilt by Bohman & Schwartz with fender skirts and JN-style lighting. Current whereabouts unknown. Judkins body below.


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Last edited by Aymami on Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:28 am 
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And the last I know is this "throne car limo"
J 587-2613
Built for Father Divine; rear compartment later redesigned for him.
Sold in November 1999 by Blackhawk Collection to Dean Kruse along with 33 other IP Duesies. Resold in 2000, then repurchased by him and in his museum since approximately 2003.

I have no more news about other B&S doozys...


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:26 am 
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re:J 587-2613
It showed up at Pebble Beach 2009. A bit of a bus....


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Last edited by robgeelen on Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Fri Aug 21, 2009 10:30 am 
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robgeelen wrote:
re:J 587-2613
It showed up at Pebble Beach 2009. A bit of a bus....

And front picture of Father Divine strange car (By the way, who was Mr Divine? sounds very sinister :) )


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:04 pm 
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Michiel Mobiel wrote:
Chassis #2143 - Engine# j-118.

AYMAMI wrote:
J 212-2234 SJ

AYMAMI wrote:
J 572-2596

AYMAMI wrote:
J 560-2585-JN 1935 Convertible Coupe

I'm a bit confused here... :?
How is Duesenberg's chassis number system built up?
I assume the three digit combinations refer to the engine number and the four digits are for the chassis?
However, most Dueseys are referred to with only "J-xxx"... Can anyone enlighten me?

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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 2:27 am 
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AYMAMI wrote:
(By the way, who was Mr Divine? sounds very sinister :) )

Father Divine was a rather controversial African American Harlem evangelist and spiritual leader.

From: http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/b/bohman_ ... hwartz.htm

"Bohman & Schwartz also built the most hideous Duesenberg of all time, the 1937 “Throne Car” built for 1930's evangelist M.J. “Father” Divine This 7,000 lb. monster was built on a stretched 178” wheelbase and featured a motorized throne that could elevate “Father Divine” so he could be better seen by his followers. Its whale-like body spilled over the sides of the chassis to such an extent that the outside of the rear fenders lay underneath the coachwork. When fully loaded, it regularly broke its rear wheels as even the over-engineered Duesenberg chassis couldn’t take the extra weight of the monstrous body."

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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:25 pm 
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robgeelen wrote:
SJ town Car made for Mrs. Ethel Mars

Promotional text by RM Auctions:
-----
Considered the most beautiful formal town car of the period, this outstanding one-off creation was penned by Christian Bohman and Maurice Schwartz. Commissioned by Mars Candy Company heiress Ethel Mars, SJ553 is one of just 36 factory supercharged Deusenbergs, and one of the few to retain its original coachwork, drivetrain, and chassis. It remains a superlative example of the art of custom coachbuilding in America.

Specifications:
320bhp, 420 cu. in. four valves per cylinder twin overhead camshaft inline eight-cylinder engine with Schwitzer- Cummins centrifugal supercharger, three-speed transmission, semi-elliptical leaf spring and solid axle front suspension, semi-elliptical leaf spring and torque tube live axle rear suspension, and vacuum-assisted four wheel hydraulic brakes. Wheelbase: 153.5"

The Inimitable Model SJ
The story of Fred and August Duesenberg and E.L. Cord is among the most fascinating in automotive history. The Duesenbergs were self-taught mechanics and car builders whose careers started in the Midwest at the beginning of the Twentieth century. Fred, the older brother by five years, was the tinkerer and designer of the pair. Augie made Fred ’ s ingenious and creative things work.

Performance was at the heart of everything they did. In 15 consecutive Indianapolis 500s starting with their first appearance in 1913, 70 Duesenbergs competed. Thirty-two – an amazing 46 percent of them – finished in the top 10. Fred and Augie became masters of supercharging and of reliability; their engines, because engines were Fred ’ s specialty, were beautiful and performed on a par with the best of Miller, Peugeot and Ballot. In 1925, Errett Lobban Cord added the Duesenberg Motors Company to his rapidly growing enterprise, the Auburn Automobile Company. Cord ’ s vision was to create an automobile that would surpass the great marques of Europe and America. Cadillac, Isotta Fraschini, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza were his targets and Duesenberg was his chosen instrument. He presented Fred Duesenberg with the opportunity to create the greatest car in the world, and the result was the incomparable Model J.

This new chassis was conceived and executed to be superlative in all aspects. Its short wheelbase chassis was 142.5 inches, nearly 12 feet; the long wheelbase car added almost a foot more. The double overhead camshaft straight eight-cylinder engine had four valves per cylinder and displaced 420 cubic inches. It made 265 horsepower. The finest materials were used throughout; fit and finish were to toolroom standards. Each chassis was driven at speed for 100 miles at Indianapolis.

After the Model J’s introduction Fred Duesenberg worked on making it even more powerful, applying his favorite centrifugal supercharger to the Model J ’ s giant eight just as he had done so successfully to his 122 cubic inch racing eights a decade earlier. He died following a Model J accident in 1932 and Augie, until then independently and very successfully building racing cars, was retained to put the final touches on the supercharged Duesenberg. The result, christened “ SJ, ” was then – and remains today - the pinnacle of American luxury performance automobiles. The outside exhaust pipes inspired generations of auto designers and remain, 70 years later, a symbol of power and performance.

The Duesenberg SJ delivered 320 horsepower at speed while retaining the outstanding naturally aspirated performance of the original Model J at lower rpm. Duesenberg built just 36 SJs at the factory; converting a standard J to SJ specification was no small job. The engine required complete disassembly to fit stronger valve springs, high-performance tubular connecting rods and numerous other components.

The effect of the Duesenberg J on America can ’ t be minimized. Even in the midst of the misery of the Depression, the mighty Duesenberg was a symbol of American ingenuity and engineering excellence. Duesenberg ’ s advertising became a benchmark, featuring the wealthy and privileged in opulent surroundings with only a single line of copy: “ He drives a Duesenberg. ” In an early nod to gender equality, others read “ She drives a Duesenberg ” . The phrase “ It ’ s a real Duesy ” has become a permanent part of our language, referring to an object with exceptional quality or performance. Even now, at the start of the next century, the Duesenberg remains the ultimate symbol of performance and luxury.

The new Duesenberg was tailor-made for the custom body industry. It had the power and stance to carry imposing coachwork, and the style and grace of the factory sheet metal was ideally suited for the execution of elegant custom coachwork. While most of the leading coachbuilders of the day were commissioned to clothe the mighty J, many modern observers believe it was the Pasadena, California based firm of Bohman & Schwartz that consistently produced the most beautiful – and outrageous - designs.

Bohman & Schwartz
The coach building business was difficult, requiring outstanding design and creativity, exceptional salesmanship, superb craftsmanship, and careful cost control. Weakness in any of these areas could – and often did – result in the demise of an otherwise promising firm. Fortunately, the principals of Bohman and Schwartz understood these principles well, and their company survived until the market for their products vanished – even as the Great Depression came to a close.

Christian Bohman was a Swedish coachbuilder who emigrated to America where he found work at several northeastern firms, including Holbrook and Brewster. In 1921 he moved to Pasadena, California, recruited by Murphy, Inc., whose wonderfully light and stylish coachwork had made the firm a leader in the industry.

Maurice Schwartz learned the business in Vienna at Armbruster, the carriage-maker to the Viennese royal family. By 1924 he had emigrated to America, also joining the Murphy body company.

In 1932, after Murphy failed, Bohman and Schwartz teamed up and purchased much of their former employer ’ s equipment. They set up shop, and quickly began work – which was initially mostly repairs and updates – but soon they found they were being approached by those among Murphy ’ s clientele who could still afford to commission elaborate coachwork. Examples include Clark Gable, Barbara Hutton, Jeanette MacDonald, Bill Robinson ( “ Bojangles ” ), and Philip K. Wrigley. Ultimately, Bohman and Schwartz would be credited with nine complete Duesenbergs, five of which were rebodies, leaving just four clean sheet original designs, of which SJ553 is perhaps the most unique.

Although many of their designs were developed in house, as the business expanded, the partners called on a variety of talented designers they had worked with at Murphy – including Herb Newport and W. Everett Miller. Modern observers credit Bohman & Schwartz with some of the most beautiful - and outrageous - coachwork on the Model J chassis. The Duesenberg was itself larger than life, and its owners were some of the most interesting and charismatic personalities of the time. They were not shy, and they wanted cars that reflected their love of life.

Provenance
In the mid 1930s, SJ553 was listed as a bare chassis in the inventory of the Duesenberg Factory Branch in Los Angeles, CA. It is widely acknowledged that the car was designed by Herb Newport expressly for screen star Mae West. She never took delivery, although she did buy another Bohman & Schwartz Duesenberg – J370, a convertible coupe. It was much less expensive, and many believe that was the reason she chose it – though given her enormous income, it is equally likely that having made up her mind to have a Duesenberg, she simply couldn ’ t wait for the completion of J553.

As it turned out, J553 was destined to become the prized possession of one of the country ’ s most influential businesswomen when Ethel Mars took delivery of her astonishing new Duesenberg on April 14th, 1935. Her purchase must have made waves in the business and financial community, telegraphing her arrival as CEO of the Mars Candy Company – and sole heir to one of America ’ s great fortunes. So significant was the car that it was featured in the November 16th, 1936 issue of Time magazine, over the caption “ The costliest car in the United States is Duesenberg, a Cord product ” . And expensive it was, with Ethel Mars having paid more than $20,000 for it.

She kept the car at her home in the Chicago area for several years, where it was often seen – uniformed chauffeur at the wheel – in Chicago ’ s financial district. Eventually, Mrs. Mars sold J553 to to Edward Engle Brown, who was chairman of the board of Chicago ’ s First National Bank and Trust. Brown owned the car until the late 1940s, eventually selling or trading it to Harry Felz, a Chicago area Cadillac dealer, who resold it – for $2,500 - to Edward D. Jaffe and his brother Oscar, both of Chicago. In the early 1950s, SJ553 went to John Troka, a well known early Duesenberg specialist in Chicago. Three more Chicago area owners followed in the late 1950s and early 1960s - Frank H. Croke, Mrs. W.P. Doyle, and Mrs. Walter J. Podbielniak.

Mrs. Podbielniak sold SJ553, along with two other cars to famous Reno collector Bill Harrah in March of 1966. The car remained in Harrah ’ s collection until his death, when it became one of the highlights of a three part auction of the collection by Holiday Inn Corporation, which had purchased Harrah ’ s casino and hotel operations. While at Harrah ’ s, the car underwent its first restoration – which was not completed in time for the catalog photography.

Richard Dicker, retired chairman of Penn Central Corporation, now living in Scarsdale, NY, bought the big Duesenberg at the Harrah ’ s auction in the mid 1980s for the then princely sum of $860,000.

He commissioned Hibernia Restorations to undertake the car ’ s second restoration. A comprehensive and staggeringly expensive restoration, the car was finished in a fine metallic silver gray. Dicker kept SJ553 until he died, at which point it was offered for sale by Sotheby ’ s in June of 1995, where it was purchased by RM Classic Cars, who ultimately sold it to noted collector John Groendyke of Enid, Oklahoma in 1997. The vendor, a serious and knowledgeable collector, acquired the car from Groendyke in 2000.

SJ553: Two Women, One Car
The history of SJ553 – designed for one woman, but delivered to another – is unique in Duesenberg history.
Mae West, of course, is well known. Born in 1893, her good looks, creativity, and comedic talent made her an international star. Signed by Paramount, she starred in several movies with Cary Grant, including “ She Done Him Wrong” , and “I’m no Angel ” . Her talent for the double entendre was legendary, and modern popular culture is filled with her lines – perhaps the most famous of which was “ Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? ” , delivered to a police officer who had been assigned to provide security at one of her public appearances.

She was renowned for her wit – she popularized the double entendre. She also used her talents to champion sexual equality. A believer in human sexuality, she fought censorship and campaigned for sexual freedom in any form. Her stunning good looks and flair for publicity made her a media darling, and she used that platform to promote her beliefs.

Mae West continued to perform on stage, screen, radio, later television until late in the 1970s, as she neared 80 years of age. Her last film was “ Sextette ” , which remains a cult classic today.

Ethel Victoria Mars was the second wife of Franklin Mars, founder of the Mars Candy Company, and inventor of the Milky Way and Snicker ’ s chocolate bars.

The couple was among America ’ s wealthiest families, both then and now. In 1930, they purchased 2,800 acres of land in Tennessee and proceeded to build a farm and lavish home – which boasted 21 bedrooms and the largest private dining room in the state. For three years, the construction of the home and farm was the largest employer in the county, with a payroll of more than 900 men.

Franklin Mars died in 1934; Ethel began raising and training racehorses on the property, under the name “ Milky Way Farms ” . Her ability to judge horses, and her willingness to take risks quickly made Milky Way the top income earning stable in the country.

She produced many championship winning horses including the 1940 Kentucky Derby winner, Galladion.

In a fascinating coincidence linking these two very interesting women, a 1937 article in Time magazine listed Ethel Mars as the highest paid businesswoman in America, with a salary of $120,000. The only woman who earned more that year was a Hollywood star – Mae West!

Condition Report
Today, SJ553 remains in excellent condition. Refinished and retrimmed by RM Auto Restoration several years ago, the black paint holds a deep gloss, and is very close to flawless in condition. The car ’ s chrome plating is similarly excellent, showing little or no evidence of aging. The driver ’ s compartment is trimmed in black ostrich leather, which seems utterly appropriate in a car of such grandeur.

The rear compartment is a masterpiece of Art Deco design, with the door and division wood trim accented by a classic waterfall pattern, and finished in a deep, high gloss burgundy. The upholstery – in a matching deep red – is expertly fitted, showing dead straight stitching and no puckering or awkward corners. A radio is installed behind a lovely pair of cathedral-shaped doors on one side, while a vanity is fitted behind the other.

The instrument panel is in excellent condition, and the instruments are both correct and in near perfect condition. A complete engine rebuild was recently carried out by Steve Babinsky, a noted New Jersey restorer. The engine bay has been detailed for concours presentation, and shows no evidence of soiling or age since restoration. Similarly, the chassis is nearly perfect, although upon close examination, minor evidence of careful use can be found.

A recent road test revealed that the car starts easily and runs well. There were no indications of mechanical faults, and the big supercharged engine pulls strongly in all three gears. The steering, while not light, is pleasant and accurate. The brakes are quick acting and pull evenly. Although the weather was pleasant, there was no indication of overheating.

The Mae West Duesenberg: The Ultimate Statement?
The SJ must surely represent the ultimate Duesenberg. Cars have been personal statements for many years – but nothing can be more personal than a spectacular one-of-a-kind design, fitted to the ultimate chassis. In the midst of the horrors of the Great Depression – a time of hardship, economic tragedy, and personal sacrifice, Mae West ordered her Duesenberg. It was not to be just any Duesenberg, and certainly not a somber, conservative limousine, as most would have done. Rather, it was to be an extravagant statement, something that suited her personality – a design her fans would both understand and expect.

And extravagant is perhaps an understatement. At a time when many felt wealth was to be hidden, the Mae West Duesenberg is an open front town car – not only a chauffeur driven style, but one in which the driver is clearly on display – in his ostrich-lined open compartment – for everyone to see. Of all the Classic Era bodies, open drive town cars were normally the most conservative; they were the automotive equivalent of a white tie and tails. Coachwork tended to be both traditional and understated.

The brilliance of Mae West ’ s Duesenberg is that it was none of those things. It was flashy and stylish. Town cars were expected to blend into the streetscape; Herb Newport ’ s design could not be more distinctive. SJ553 ’ s ultramodern design begins with a lovely swept back radiator shell, banishing the upright and conservative Duesenberg radiator inside the engine compartment, flanked by a pair of up-to-date streamlined headlights. The twin side mounted spares are sculpted into the fenders, and topped with aerodynamic covers. The windshield is a work of art, with narrow pillars in a vee configuration, sloping gracefully to the rear. Finally, the body itself is softly curved, without hard edges or right angles, and finishes with a gently sloping tail.

There is no doubt that the body Bohman and Schwartz crafted for SJ553 was both beautiful and outrageous at the same time – but the coup de grace was the chassis. One of just 36 factory supercharged cars, this was also the most powerful town car ever built. Its signature external exhaust ensured that no one could miss it, or confuse its owner with anyone else, then or now.

Perhaps the signature element of the design of SJ553 is its stunning Art Deco interior. The style – known in the period as Art Moderne – was popular from the early 1920s until the advent of WWII, although for most observers today, its heyday was the 1930s. Seen today as nostalgic, at the time Art Deco was sleek and modern, featuring clean lines, strong colors, and modern materials. It was also highly unusual in automotive interior design, as the buyers of the most expensive cars tended to be older and much more conservative in their tastes. Seen from this perspective, Ethel Mars ’ choice of such a contemporary design ethos reflects her youth and implies an exceptional aptitude for the arts. Today, we are grateful that her strong will and exceptional taste resulted in the creation of what many see as an icon of the period, combining outstanding exterior design with exquisite interior appointments. SJ553 – Among the Rarest of the Rare.

The survival rate of normal Duesenbergs is remarkably high – a reflection of the high regard their owners have had for the cars throughout the years. They are wonderful cars, offering the finest engineering of the time, a testimonial to the ingenuity and innovation of the American spirit. As good as the standard chassis was, it is the mighty SJ that will always be remembered as the rarest and without question the most desirable of all the Duesenbergs. Massively powerful and frighteningly expensive, less than ten percent – about 36 cars by most counts – carried the ultimate Duesenberg engine. Of these, less than thirty survive. Of the survivors, many have suffered the indignities of engine, body, and even chassis changes. Even so, most carry fairly standard coachwork, similar or identical to bodies mounted on other, non supercharged chassis. Only ten cars exist with true coachbuilt one-off bodies originally fitted to supercharged chassis.
-----

More images and info of SJ553-2582 here: http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/2106 ... n-Car.html

Estimate: $2,300,000-$3,000,000 US. Lot was Sold at a price of $4,400,000


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 Post subject: Re: Duesenbergs by Bohman & Schwartz
PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:35 pm 
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