The Legendary 1931 Duesenberg Model J: A Car Fit for Royalty

The Legendary 1931 Duesenberg Model J: A Car Fit for Royalty

When it comes to American automotive history, few marques can match the prestige and allure of Duesenberg. In its heyday, Duesenberg stood shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, and Hispano Suiza, producing coachbuilt creations that represented the pinnacle of luxury, performance, and exclusivity.

One particular model, the 1931 Duesenberg Model J, holds a special place in the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Birth of the Model J

Duesenberg Model J was the brainchild of Frederick and August Duesenberg, two German-born brothers who immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. The brothers quickly established themselves as talented engineers and automobile designers, and in 1920, they founded the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company.

Model J was introduced in 1928, during a time when the American automotive industry was booming. It was intended to be the ultimate luxury car, catering to the wealthiest and most discerning clientele.

It was built on a massive 142.5-inch wheelbase chassis and was powered by a 420 cubic inch (6.9-liter) straight-eight engine. This engine was a technological marvel for its time, featuring dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and producing an impressive 265 horsepower.

Unmatched Luxury and Customization

What truly set the Model J apart from its competitors was its level of luxury and customization. The chassis and engine were shipped to coachbuilders, who then crafted unique bodies to the customer’s specifications.

This allowed buyers to create one-of-a-kind automobiles that suited their individual tastes and preferences.

Some of the most renowned coachbuilders of the era, such as Murphy, Rollston, and LeBaron, were commissioned to create bodies for the Model J. The result was a stunning array of designs, ranging from sleek and sporty roadsters to opulent sedans and limousines.

No expense was spared in the construction of these bodies, with luxurious materials such as fine leather, exotic woods, and hand-polished metalwork being used throughout.

A Car Fit for Royalty

The Model J quickly gained a reputation as the car of choice for the rich and famous. Its combination of power, elegance, and exclusivity made it a status symbol amongst the elite. Celebrities, industrialists, and even royalty were drawn to the allure of the Model J.

Perhaps the most famous owner of a Model J was actor Clark Gable. Gable, known for his role in “Gone with the Wind,” purchased a stunning Duesenberg convertible coupe in 1932. The car, finished in a striking shade of yellow, perfectly complemented Gable’s dashing persona and became an iconic symbol of Hollywood glamour.

Another notable owner was Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar II of Indore, India. The Maharaja commissioned a custom-bodied Duesenberg, known as the “Twenty Grand,” which featured intricate gold and silver inlays, jewel-encrusted trim, and a solid silver dashboard. This extravagant creation truly embodied the opulence and excesses of the era.

End of an Era

Despite its success, the Great Depression took a toll on the luxury automobile market, and Duesenberg struggled to find buyers for its expensive creations. The company was eventually forced to close its doors in 1937, ending the production of the Model J.

Today, the 1931 Duesenberg Model J is considered one of the greatest automotive masterpieces ever created. Its blend of power, elegance, and craftsmanship continues to captivate enthusiasts and collectors around the world. Owning a Model J is a testament to the owner’s appreciation for automotive history and a celebration of a bygone era of luxury and refinement.


The 1931 Duesenberg Model J remains an enduring symbol of American automotive excellence. Its timeless design, unparalleled performance, and customizability make it a true masterpiece of engineering and artistry.

Whether in the hands of Hollywood stars or royalty, the Model J exudes an air of prestige and sophistication that is unmatched by any other car of its time. Today, these rare and coveted automobiles are treasured by collectors who recognize their historical significance and appreciate their unparalleled beauty.

Legacy of the 1931 Duesenberg Model J lives on, continuing to inspire and captivate all those who encounter it.