Here”s a car to lust over — and what a history it has!
Headlining the auction at next week’s Monterey Classic Car Week is the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ once owned by movie star Gary Cooper.
“This incredible car embodies everything that is exciting about an automotive masterpiece: beauty, rarity, provenance, and sheer power,” auctioneer David Gooding, of Gooding and Company, said.
“This SSJ is one of the all-time greatest classics and poised to set an auction record for a pre-war American car.”
It is one of only two Duesenberg SSJ models ever built, and was constructed on a specially shortened 125-inch wheelbase.
The two cars were immediately destined for Hollywood’s biggest superstars of the day.
This SSJ, chassis J-563, went to Gary Cooper and the other SSJ, chassis J-567, to Clark Gable.
Academy award-winning actor Gary Cooper, who died in 1961, had a lifelong love of cars, particularly fast ones.
He is best known for films such as High Noon, Sergeant York, and Mr Deeds Goes to Town.
The SSJ is not a car for the faint of heart, as a 300kW (400hp) supercharged twin-cam in-line 8-cylinder engine lies beneath its hood.
With an ultra-rare twin-carburettor intake, this car produced 60kW more than the standard Duesenberg SJ, which was already the most powerful and one of the fastest production cars of its day.
The SSJ Speedsters sported a lightweight open-roadster bobtail body produced by LaGrande in Connersville, Indiana.
The Duesenberg is expected to achieve more than US $10 million at Gooding’s Pebble Beach sale.
The car came from the Miles Collier Collections.
Miles Collier has made it his life’s work to educate and promote the understanding of the role of cars in our lives and has curated an extraordinary collection of classic and groundbreaking cars.
“Many vehicles are billed as ‘speedsters’ or ‘racers,’ but the Duesenberg SSJ really was. Peaking at 225km/h (140mph) in 1935, it was simply an unbeatable performer, matched by unbeatable style,” he said.
Following Gary Cooper’s ownership, the SSJ then passed through a string of California owners, from a 20-year-old millionaire in Los Angeles to an industrial designer in San Francisco.
In 1949, it was acquired by D. Cameron Peck of Evanston, Illinois. Peck sold it to Briggs Cunningham and it was for many years a centrepiece in Cunningham’s museum in California.
Miles Collier acquired the collection in 1986.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to support Collier’s mission to create a substantial and self-sustaining automotive knowledge legacy for future generations.