The automotive world couldn’t help but notice when a Duesenberg found its way to Bring a Trailer last week. And the sale was, uh, a Duesy for the online auction house, as that 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Sedan sold for $1,346,000 (including commission). That’s highest price ever paid for an automobile on BaT—and the most for a Model JN.
The previous record price for a Duesenberg Model JN is $962,500 at RM Sotheby’s 2010 Auburn Auction.
Dave Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide, says the record-setting Bring a Trailer sale is significant for buyer, seller, and BaT, which launched in 2014 and is best known for its five-figure and low six-figure cars.
“This is one we can mark ‘sold’ and ‘well done,’” Kinney says. “For those who don’t know, the JN was the final Series of the J—and Duesenberg itself. This proves once again that ‘old’ cars are far from forlorn and forgotten. Exceptional cars will always bring excellent prices.”
No matter where they’re sold.
The 1935 Duesenberg (chassis 2593) is one of only 10 updated “JN” models produced, and it features short-wheelbase convertible sedan coachwork by Rollston of New York City. Compared to the Model J, the JN featured wider, lower-slung bodywork fitted over the frame rails on a 142.5-inch wheelbase, and the JN features 17-inch wheels compared to the 19-inch wheels found on Model Js.
Power is provided by a 420-cubic-inch Lycoming straight-eight engine (serial number J-566), mated to a three-speed manual transmission. Features include dual taillights, chrome bumpers, cowl-mounted Lorraine spotlights, dual mirrors, right-side external exhaust pipes, and driving lamps. The folding blue convertible top features a glass rear window and is stored under a matching cover.
Inside, the luxury automobile has front and rear bench seats (reupholstered in red leather), along with matching door panels and carpets. It also has a three-spoke steering wheel with central hub controls, a marble shift knob, crank windows, dual electric windshield wipers, and a rear robe cord.
The five-digit odometer shows just under 31,000 miles. Actual mileage is unknown.
The JN was offered by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Foundation, which acquired it in 2000. It comes with a hub wrench, a historical file, IMS Museum purchase documents, and a clean Indiana title listing the car as a 1936 model.
According to BaT, the car was purchased new by Herbert N. Lape, Sr. of Cincinnati and was moved to California sometime before the late 1940s. It then spent time in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, where it was displayed at the Imperial Palace Casino in Las Vegas from 1993–98.
After returning to California, it was refreshed in the late 1990s and then sold to the IMS Foundation, which used it in several IPL 500 Festival and F1 USGP pre-race vintage car parades. It also took part in the 2019 Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club Reunion car show.
Although this sale is significant and established a new Bring a Trailer record, it is not the first BaT sale of more than $1 million. The previous record was the $1,234,567 paid for a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing in June 2019.
As traditional auctions continue to make their way back after the year-long pandemic shutdown, we’ll be eagerly anticipating the next seven-figure car on BaT.