duesenberg ssj peeble beach auction gary cooper

It's a Duesy! Gary Cooper's SSJ


During the first third of the XNUMXth century there were mainly two main types of car: on the one hand there were the modest devices that began to massively popularize motor transport thanks to models like the Ford T, and on the other ... The spectacular vehicles of almost three tons, astronomical displacement engines, luxury artisan bodies and a client portfolio where you only saw aristocrats, monarchies, big businessmen and gangsters.

As you can see, that of the "middle class" It was still something that rarely passed from theory to practice, conditioning an automotive industry that either assembled very cheap and simple products, or went directly to satisfy the whims of a public without any problem to sign all the checks it made. lack.

Within this second type of brands you will obviously know Rolls Royce for its English distinction, and Bugatti for the sign of speed and power that it marked in those seminal days for motor racing but ... What if we tell you about Duesenberg? The name sounds like German, and in reality it has something to do with the fact that the two founding brothers came from the German country, but in reality… We are in the US We are talking about those who surely be the most exclusive cars of the time.

And if not ... To show a button: when the transport tycoon Errett Lobban Cord acquired the company of the brothers Duesenberg in 1926, he wrote them a blank check with the idea that "20 years ahead of everything that exists". And what if they succeeded! Both for power and for style models like the J (1929-37) they are in the minds of the best motor enthusiasts.


Although Duesenberg achieved sporting challenges such as the top speed of 251 km / h in the Indiana desert in 1920, or the victory in the 1921 French GP -for decades it was the only victorious American mount in a European GP-, the truth is that It's about a sports brand. Although that should not take away the perspective that their engines were among the most powerful of the time. How did they get this?

duesenberg ssj peeble beach auction gary cooperBasically studying for many hours the layout of a big engine Bugatti equipped with 16 cylinders and designed to power airplanes during the First World War. That device was rejected by the French General Staff, but after being dissected to the millimeter by some Duesenbergs eager for new mechanical ideas ... It ended up inspiring the 8-cylinder engine that powers most of the approximately 650 Duesenbergs built, as well as all of the 470 J models.

Of course, taking into account that each of these models is a unique piece, the amount of technical specifications of this engine is almost equal to the number of copies built. Although it is true that the first versions gave 265CV turning at 4250 rpm thanks to its 6 liters animated by a double overhead camshaft and 2 valves ... The one that equips our protagonist assembled in 1935 reaches, at least in theory, 400CV at 5000 laps with a compressor and two carburettors. It's not bad at all…

That mechanical peculiarity, typical of the SJ variant or Supercharged J slightly less power, added to the fact that the whole assembly is mounted on a shorter chassis than the rest of the J model units - in this case we find a 3'2 meter battle-, results in a purely sports version. No, it is not a very powerful saloon but one of the two SSJ, so called precisely because they accumulate a character sufficiently "sport”As if to form its own specification within the range of the J.


After the Crack of 29 the guys on Wall Street stopped commissioning these wonders so frequently. Anyway ... there weren't so many Gatsby with the urge to drive at full speed its Duesenberg from a suburban mansion to downtown Manhattan. However, in golden Hollywood things were going full speed ahead. Perhaps that is why this SSJ fell into the hands of a Gary Cooper that, according to a certain urban legend, he ran races in it through the valleys of California with Harpo Marx, who had so much of “muteAs a lover of speed thanks to its Mercedes S Boattail Speedster.

Subsequently this -almost-unique specimen has matured as a true jewel of motorsports, providing for years what some experts have hopefully been able to verify as a “wonderfully exaggerated exuberance of the engine, with extraordinary scale and an impetuous and striking character ”.

With all these data ... You can imagine that the figure for which it will possibly be sold this next 26 August at the auction attached to the Peeble Beach Contest of Elegance it won't be exactly small. But aren't we looking at one of the most fascinating cars of all time?

What do you think?

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Miguel Sánchez

Written by Miguel Sánchez

Through the news from La Escudería, we will travel the winding roads of Maranello listening to the roar of the Italian V12; We will travel Route66 in search of the power of the great American engines; we will get lost in the narrow English lanes tracking the elegance of their sports cars; We will speed up the braking in the curves of the Monte Carlo Rally and we will even get dusty in a garage while rescuing lost jewels.


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