1930 DUESENBERG MODEL J MURPHY CONVERTIBLE COUPE
COACHWORK BY MURPHY
Chassis No. 2200
Engine No. J-483
Black with tan leather interior
Engine: straight-eight with twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, 420ci., 320bhp at 4,200rpm; Gearbox: three speed manual; Suspension: beam axle to front, live axle to rear, half elliptic leaf springs all around; Brakes: servo-assisted hydraulically operated drums on all wheels. Left hand drive.
The late automotive writer, Ken Purdy, once wrote, The man who had really arrived drove a Duesenberg. It cost him from 6,500 to 25,000 one-hundred-cent-dollars and it looked it. What is more, it acted like it. Nobody driving a stock anything made in America passed a Duesenberg if the Duesenberg was earnest about it. At the heart of that idea was the Model J Duesenberg's massive powerhouse of an engine: complex sporting twin overhead camshafts that controlled four inclined valves, two inlet and two exhaust, per cylinder, displacing 420 cubic inches (6,882 cc). The great five bearing crankshaft alone was reputed to weigh 150 lbs. Even with the modest 5.2:1 compression ratio of the standard engine, the surge of power was awesome, thrusting a phaeton, very completely equipped and no lightweight, from 10-80 mph in top gear in 22 seconds and providing a maximum of 116 mph. Matched to the engine was a very capable chassis, double dropped for a low center of gravity, provided with six sturdy cross-members.
Endless care was lavished on the details. The 150mph speedometer, the combined clock and stop-watch altimeter, barometer and brake pressure dials, were highlighted by the famous engine-driven timing box of planetary gears that controlled lights that warned the driver to change the engine oil every 700 miles and check the battery water every 1400 miles, along with other functions.
Duesenberg exercised firm control over the bodies fitted to their chassis', encouraging clients to order coachwork directly from the factory, often with the aid of Duesenberg executive and Cord stylist Gordon Buehrig. Buehrig made sure that only the best looking bodies went on the Duesenberg chassis'. As a result, the choice of coachwork was limited to a select, elite group of companies that included Murphy, Rollston, Gurney Nutting, Walker, Willoughby, LeBaron and Hibbard and Darrin, to name a few.
The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California was known for its advanced and spirited styling. The Murphy designs often featured a distinctive 'straight line styling', in addition to wide doors, narrow pillars, flat roofs and perhaps most notably, an absence of overly decorative or ornate trim. Murphy gained respect for doing something unheard of in the coachbuilding world - they actually did full scale mock-up drawings of the client's proposed body. One of their most desirable body styles, the convertible coupe, highlighted the skill and tasteful designs they had become so well-known and respected for. The Duesenberg on offer here, car no. 2200, is one such example of this classic body style.
This Murphy Convertible Coupe was originally sold to a Mr. William G. Atkinson of New York City. According to famed Duesenberg historian, Randy Ema, during Mr. Atkinson's ownership, the original engine, J-181, was replaced with J-483. The circumstances of this change are unknown. Ema and noted authors, J.L. Elbert and Fred Roe, all record that J-483 was originally installed in a Judkins Berline. In 1946 the Duesenberg, now fitted with J-483, was sold to Ms. Margaret Drayton of Newport, Rhode Island. The car stayed on the east coast for only a short time before it was sold to a California buyer in 1953. The Duesenberg essentially remained in California until the early 1980s with respected owners such as Mr. Jack Passey, leaving the state to new owners for only a short period of time in the mid 1970s. In the late 1970s the car passed to Southern California car collector, Mr. Richard L. Burns, who then sold it to fellow collector, Don Koll. Koll sold the car to Bill Lassiter in 1986.
It would appear that this Duesenberg was last restored in the late 1970s or early 1980s. This example remains in good condition and shows only minor paint cracking in limited areas. The engine compartment and motor appear to be in fine condition and suggest that the car has registered some road miles since the restoration. The interior and rumble seat are finished in tan leather. All dashboard gauges, including the Jaeger chronometer, brake, amperes, fuel, altimeter, oil, 150mph speedometer and temperature gauges appear to be correct.
Exterior accoutrements include TwiLite head lamps, scripted sidelamps, dual side spares, optional supercharger pipes and Duesenberg tail lamps.
Since purchasing this Duesenberg, William Lassiter has done little to alter the car's appearance or condition, choosing instead to enjoy his Duesenberg for its superior driving qualities and performance. This example is, like all Duesenbergs, a full classic and is welcome on tours and events. There are many enthusiasts who will maintain that no collection is truly complete unless it contains a Duesenberg. This statement is undoubtedly founded on the concept that no car represents the pinnacle of American automobile manufacturing in terms of both engineering and design better than a Duesenberg - and the Murphy Convertible Coupe is one of the best proportional designs ever fitted to the chassis. Without doubt this is a fine example and one of the flagships of this exciting and important collection.