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1932 Duesenberg J490X, Coachwork in the Style of Derham


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This car recently sold for $522k

 

   The vehicles from the Samuel Vaughan have not been driven in many years
    Please note that coolant is leaking into the engine and the cylinder head might need to be replaced
    Coachwork in the style of a Derham Tourster by Ted Billings
    420 CI Straight 8 engine
    3-speed manual transmission
    Red exterior
    Tan convertible top
    Tan leather interior
    Stewart Warner tachometer
    Jaeger in-dash clock
    Altimeter
    150 MPH speedometer
    In-dash brake adjustment lever with dry, rain, snow and ice settings
    Duesenberg Straight 8 Indianapolis firewall badge
    Polished side engine pipes
    Dual horns
    Duesenberg Model J decorative hood ornament
    Chrome wire wheels
    Wide Whitewall tires

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If the head is leaking and it can't be fixed, its going to be a 700K car very quickly. Coachwork was well done. Ted built nice stuff, and copied an original car side by side........fun ride if it gets sorted correctly. 

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The engine number, if correct, implies a factory replacement engine, and NEVER assume the chassis under ANY Duesenberg is in fact a factory unit, they made frames, axles, and everything else, so if you have an engine, you have a “car” by some definition. The gentleman who built these series of bodies used factory correct chassis with numbers matching components as well as all new chassis, so one must be a detective to determine what any particular car is.......or is not. Part of the fun of Model J Duesenbergs!

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Hmmmm?

So these are recreations rather than original cars Ed? If this is the case is there a negative impact on price desirability or does it simply come down to the fact that Duesenberg's are so rare buyers just don't care if the car is orig. or a recreation?

I don't really get the whole re-body thing.

Greg

 

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Even at $522,000, that red Duesenberg has about a $1 million discount on it. Most of that is because of the rebody, correct as it is (meaning it is a body made long after production ended but which accurately replicates an original body). I wouldn't characterize this car as a re-creation, simply because it uses mostly real Duesenberg parts; there are no fake Duesenberg engines, transmissions, or rear ends, for example. But it could be a "bitsa" (bits of this, bits of that) where it was assembled from several different cars, or a car that uses some reproduction parts like frame rails, bell housing, and bodywork.

 

This is similar to a body swap where, say, a frumpy limousine body is ditched in favor of a sporty roadster body, either newly created or removed from a different but similar car. I have a client who bought a Duesenberg with the wrong body on it. He found another Duesenberg wearing the first car's original body so he bought that and intends to reunite the original body and chassis and then have a second "bitsa" car instead of two bitsa cars. I believe he also found a Duesenberg that needed the engine out of that second car, so he'll ultimately have two correct Duesenbergs and one bitsa. Apparently there was a great deal of Duesenberg engine/chassis/body swapping going on in the '50s and '60s. Why, I don't know, other than guys were trying to get good base stock for their restorations and "matching numbers" wasn't yet a thing so they just grabbed running engines from frumpy cars to use in their sporty cars rather than face an expensive rebuild.


On the other hand, something like a Duesenberg II can safely be considered a re-creation, as it was a wholly new creation using no original parts but fairly accurately replicates the original look (although it's all modern running gear underneath).

 

Perhaps think of this particular red Duesenberg more as a non-numbers-matching Corvette with a warranty replacement engine, but which has also been painted the wrong color and filled with options, but not options that came with that car. It obviously has an effect on values to serious collectors but doesn't change what the car essentially is.

 

Ultimately, a Duesenberg like this is one I'd be happy to own (well, maybe one that doesn't need $150,000 worth of engine work, but if you can afford the $500,000 buy-in, that's probably something you can swing as well). It IS a Duesenberg just like a my blue 1966 Corvette is still a Corvette, just not one with a pedigree. That separates the good from the great, both in Corvettes and Duesenbergs.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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So what style body would have been original to this chassis?

 

any style your pocket would have chosen. Probably 2/3s of all Duesenbergs have had body swaps or replacements done. If you were wealthy, after 5 years you might have had  another body installed.

all Duesenberg sold were the chassis. So nobody can tell you your body is "wrong" or the color isnt original.

It is whatever you want it to be. Yes, the body may be new, but so are the bodies on many many brass cars that didnt hold up. Does that make them trash?

no........... but yes, it can affect value or perceived value.

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The Duesenberg market is much more complicated than most people can imagine.........and EVERY component makes a huge difference. Recently a restored Murphy roadster sold for 1.5, it was all factory parts, all correct Murphy body, but it was a scramble of five or six different cars.......a unmolested identical car sold for 3.5 so it’s more than just a few little items, or opinions. Within the small circle of a Duesenberg collectors, more than half the cars aren’t considered desirable or collectible..........the pinnacle of the market is strange and interesting.........example, closed cars very often sell for more money than open cars.

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24 minutes ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Does anyone recall the sale price for the Pascucci Tourster?  Older restoration, color maybe not the best, but deep history and I believe the "buck" for the Billings cars.  Seems like it sold for not too much more than this one, 5 or 6 years back.


I think it was hammer around 1,175,000.  You are correct Steve (and Ed), the Billings bodies were copied from this car.

 

there were around 10 cars built but not all are created equal.  The best were a body swap on a good car and the worst only had a motor that came from Duesenberg originally.

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1932 Duesenberg J-490 is heading to auction in March at Amelia Island.

1932 Duesenberg J-490X recently sold at auction for $522k

This is one pair of four known pairs of cars with very close serial numbers.

Some messages on the ACD board seem to indicative the "X" engine were replacement or rebuilt with the original engine surviving.

Seems pretty strange now, if you knew the history of both engines perhaps it would be more clear what happened.

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Thanks for the info guys. Some of this Duesenberg mystique is just beyond me. I would have expected an all original sedan would be worth preserving and worth more $$$ than a re-bodied open car, even though more people would probably prefer to own an open car today.

Matt, your Corvette analogy makes perfect sense. 

I think Ed got it right; you really need to be a detective when searching this particular marque.

Greg 

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The tourster replica bodies were done 40 years ago.  Nobody would do that to a nice car now.  However, if you read my previous post carefully, you will note I said a few of them were body swaps and some were conjured for almost nothing.   Visions of a nice sedan being chopped up did not really happen, or maybe accounted for a couple of the 10.  One car was built entirely from an engine rescued from a boat.

 

Anybody buying any expensive car, Duesenberg or any other that doesn’t know what they are doing is a fool.

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some of those "sedans" were chopped down into pickups and used on pig farms...........

 

so the question is, would you prefer a pig farm truck or the phaeton above? doubt the pu would be worth more then the 522k hammer.

 

at 522k, dont see much downside, so not sure what all the fuss is about it being original.

 

Many Mercers became raceabouts in the 30s and 40s. Guess they arent worth a dime today.........................lol!

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8 hours ago, alsancle said:


I think it was hammer around 1,175,000.  You are correct Steve (and Ed), the Billings bodies were copied from this car.

 

Thanks AJ.  On Billings cars, some old guy gave me the history a long time ago.  I thought the price on the Pascucci car was pretty low.  Old restoration but it was not ratty at least last time I saw it.  That said, it was shown locally in not running condition at that time.  It was pushed into place and back into its trailer.   It later got put into running shape on Chasing Classic cars, he did a few more shows prior to auction.  Undertaking a resto on it would be $$$, I wonder what new owner did with it.

 

I would think their is a big value difference between a rebodied complete car otherwise and a bitsa as we like to say in the Model A world! 🙂

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Steve_Mack_CT said:

Thanks AJ.  On Billings cars, some old guy gave me the history a long time ago.  I thought the price on the Pascucci car was pretty low.  Old restoration but it was not ratty at least last time I saw it.  That said, it was shown locally in not running condition at that time.  It was pushed into place and back into its trailer.   It later got put into running shape on Chasing Classic cars, he did a few more shows prior to auction.  Undertaking a resto on it would be $$$, I wonder what new owner did with it.

 

I would think their is a big value difference between a rebodied complete car otherwise and a bitsa as we like to say in the Model A world! 🙂

 

Old is a relative term Steve.  I thought it was a smoking deal,  but then then the green one sold a few years ago in similar condition for about the same money at Monterrey

 

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14 hours ago, GregLaR said:

Hmmmm?

So these are recreations rather than original cars...? 

I don't really get the whole re-body thing.

 

I agree, Greg.  Collectors tend to be forgiving when a Classic car

is rebodied by the restorer, creating something that the vehicle

was NOT when first produced.  To me, it's much the same as

sawing the roof off a Mustang GT coupe and making a Mustang GT

convertible with correct Mustang parts.

 

The fact that Duesenberg bodies were produced by coachwork

companies doesn't change the fact that history is being distorted.

Such a restoration customer probably wanted a sportier body

and figured that he would get more money in the end.  Today,

wouldn't we rather see the wide range of bodies--dignified sedans,

stylish coupes, opulent town cars--that originally came with

those Duesenbergs?

 

 

 

Edited by John_S_in_Penna (see edit history)
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Re two Tourster sales, That would seem to set market lower than some more common  ody styles, thinking roadsters here.  This is  pretty complex market for sure. 

 

Not sure about a random rebody but a Roxas or Billings car seems respected.  I would love the subject car but would be much more concerned about the head than the rebody.

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

I agree, Greg.  Collectors tend to be forgiving when a Classic car

is rebodied by the restorer, creating something that the vehicle

was NOT when first produced.  To me, it's much the same as

sawing the roof off a Mustang GT coupe and making a Mustang GT

convertible with correct Mustang parts.

 

The fact that Duesenberg bodies were produced by coachwork

companies doesn't change the fact that history is being distorted.

Such a restoration customer probably wanted a sportier body

and figured that he would get more money in the end.  Today,

wouldn't we rather see the wide range of bodies--dignified sedans,

stylish coupes, opulent town cars--that originally came with

those Duesenbergs?

 

Collectors are really not that forgiving for Duesenbergs.   There is still a 50% discount,  just not the usual 60 to 75% that you see across the board for a dead nuts rebody.   I think that is because a Model J is all about the engine.   You get the king of the prewar hill with a Model J.

 

1.   Both real toursters brought around 1.2 million in older restoration shape.

2.   The car we are talking about brought under 1/2 that in older restoration shape.

3.   The Gooding tourster (also a Billings body)  was bid to 550,  and has been for sale for years.

 

Btw,   I think the 50% number is for a "good" Billing's tourster,   the real bitsa cars have sold for 350k or less.

 

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, mercer09 said:

some of those "sedans" were chopped down into pickups and used on pig farms...........

 

 

My step-grandfather, who ran a scrap yard before and during the war claimed to have scrapped "more than one" Duesenberg. I'm not sure he was remembering things correctly and I'd be horrified to learn that it was more than one or even one. Some were surely lost to scrapping during the war, but I'm sure the number wasn't huge. These were still big, expensive, prestigious cars that were only a few years old. I think the "restorers" and "collectors" of the '50s and '60s did a lot more damage to Duesenberg stock than scrapping did.

 

Now as far as making trucks out of big sedans, yes, that happened a lot and I'm OK with that. In fact, I'm on the hunt for my next vehicle: a Full Classic wrecker, something like this Cadillac (this topic is under discussion in another thread around here somewhere):

 

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All that said, sign me up for a "bitsa" or "rebodied" or "unpedigreed" Duesenberg J at a 50-80% discount. Matching-numbers fever is ridiculous at any level. Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

My step-grandfather, who ran a scrap yard before and during the war claimed to have scrapped "more than one" Duesenberg. I'm not sure he was remembering things correctly and I'd be horrified to learn that it was more than one or even one. Some were surely lost to scrapping during the war, but I'm sure the number wasn't huge. These were still big, expensive, prestigious cars that were only a few years old. I think the "restorers" and "collectors" of the '50s and '60s did a lot more damage to Duesenberg stock than scrapping did.

 

 

I wouldn't sweat it Matt.   About 99.5% of the time when somebody outside the hard core hobby calls something a Duesenberg,  it is almost always a Buick.

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3 minutes ago, alsancle said:

 

I wouldn't sweat it Matt.   About 99.5% of the time when somebody outside the hard core hobby calls something a Duesenberg,  it is almost always a Buick.

 

LOL! That makes me feel better.

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While my daughter was attending St. Lawrence University, up in the north country, I established a pretty good friendship with old Mr. Mace. Had I maintained the relationship I probably would have ended up with one of his cars.  My gourmong taste in cars would have handled it just fine.

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alsuncle --

 

Are you sure about a car being built around an engine rescued from a boat? I knew the late Bill Bocock of Kerrville, Texas, and he told me that he had found and bought a Model J engine out of a shrimp boat in Panama. He rebuilt the engine and mounted it on a display stand, and did intend to build a car around it, but never did. He told me he wasn't happy with the replica chassis he had purchased. Upon Bill's death that engine was donated to the ACD Museum and is still there -- I heard that it's going to be put into a chassis for museum display purposes. 

 

Was there another engine that came out of a boat?

 

I also heard that a Model J engine was rescued from a sawmill in a small town in East Texas maybe 40-50 years ago, but don't know what happened to that one. A number of Texas car collectors were aware of the engine back in the day, but everyone was a cheapo bargain hunter back then. 10 years ago I even saw the deteriorated building that the engine came out of, but the owner's elderly widow had no idea what had become of the engine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, The roadster almost had me. They were 1980 ish vintage. In Canton, New York, Mace Motors, formerly an Olds dealership. The collection has been dispersed. My favorite was the repro Auburn. Ford LTD underneath.

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The custom Cord was interesting. It may have had a history that had been forgotten, but important.

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The buildings at three locations were loaded.

 

The first time I stopped I was alone after delivering my daughter's car to her. I stopped into the cluttered showroom and met the father and son. They had a Cars & Parts magazine on the table with a hood ornament test as an article. Mr. Mace senior handed it to me and told me to take the test. Then he said "You know about cars, don't you? Has anyone told you what's in the shop?" Didn't have any idea but it was a gasp when we walked out. After that I stopped every time. He just let me look around and gave me directions to the other locations. Once my wife was with me and he had to leave. He told her "If you have any questions just ask him" and pointed at me. "Pull the door tight when you leave."  My wife said she knew I had all the answers and they both smiled with great tolerance.

 

Neat place, good memories.

Gourmong is the opposite of gourmet, I don't think Google knows.

Bernie

 

 

Edited by 60FlatTop (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, jrbartlett said:

alsancle --

 

Are you sure about a car being built around an engine rescued from a boat?

 

 

No.   Hearsay from my dad who was Ted's best friend.   I worked at the shop when I was a kid but only at the very tail end of the Duesenberg production.

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The interesting thing today.......four door phaetons, D/C, are now not the "top of the list"  as they were back in the 60's and 70's. It's all about the roadster and convertible  coupe. For me, I prefer the D/C over all others........times change and so does taste.......I rather have fun with another couple in the car, and rumble seats are getting harder and harder to get in every year. Frankly, a real tourister for the money of 1.25 is a fantastic bargain.........that said, the LeBaron D/C will bring a lot more today........in a few more years things will change again.....they always do. I really like the fit and finish of closed cars.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Ed, John  P held onto his Lebaron Barrelside when he sold the tourster (imho Lebaron has much better colors, and ran well) which by numbers I think should be the lesser car but your comments on value are really interesting.  Also roadster vs. DCP, exactly my point, kind of a head scratcher, but it is what it is, for now!

Edited by Steve_Mack_CT (see edit history)
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Ed, I agree with you. In an open car I like something with 4 doors or if a 2 door a convertible victoria, I am not a rumble seat car guy at all. Look nice but you have to be no older then a nimble 12 year old to easily climb in and out of one. I too like the fit and finish of closed car. Town cars are my favorite body style but I don't fit behind the wheel of any one of them well at all due to long legs. Chauffeurs were not tall people as the owners of the cars wanted the room in the back for them not up front for the driver. In NY City there were fraternal organizations for chauffeurs too - Had their own clubs by country of origin - Irish, Norwegian, German. they advertised their existence in car publications that were specific to people who drive vehicles "National Taxicab and Motor bus Weekly" was one of them. they had club houses in NY City where there was some lodging and also places for a shower or a clean up between long hauls behind the wheel.

SO why do I recall all of this stuff clearly and can't remember what day I am supposed to go to the dentist without looking at a calendar?  😯  OK all of you that know me can stop snickering .

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4 hours ago, bryankazmer said:

Wow - it's been quite a while since I thought of that place.

 

(It's "gourmand,"  and not exactly opposite, more the blue collar counterpart.  Likes food, not just refined food.)

 

 

Sorta quality vs quantity opposite.  Gourmet implies high-quality, maybe exotic, food which may be small portion - gourmand implies food which may be just "meat-and-potatoes" but plenty of it.

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