1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

The unveiling of the Duesenberg Model J on December 1, 1928, at the 1929 New York Auto Salon captivated New York City, nearly halting its bustling streets. With a commanding presence, the Model J boasted a dual overhead camshaft 420 cubic inch inline eight-cylinder engine, delivering an impressive 265 horsepower, twice the power of its American counterparts.

Its robust 143½-inch wheelbase chassis, coupled with four-wheel hydraulic brakes, ensured a harmonious balance of power and control. Crafted with unparalleled attention to detail, no expense was spared in its construction.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, elite coachbuilders from around the world clamored for the opportunity to showcase their skills on the Duesenberg Model J chassis. From Holbrook and Derham to Murphy and Rollston in the United States, and Barker and Gurney Nutting in the UK, a prestigious array of names sought to leave their mark on this automotive icon.

As the Great Depression gripped America, Duesenberg enlisted Gordon Buehrig to create the LaGrande line, a series of semi-custom bodies exclusive to the brand. Buehrig’s designs, along with those produced under other esteemed coachbuilders, unified the Model J’s aesthetic, solidifying its legendary status. Notably, the Tourster four-door phaetons crafted by Derham exemplify the pinnacle of this design harmony.

Photo Source: RM Sotheby’s