5-6 October 2017

The Thomas F. Derro Collection

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Lot 262

1935 Duesenberg Model J Cabriolet by d'Ieteren

  • Chassis no. 2548
  • Serial no. 2548
  • Engine no. J-519
  • Body no. 4559

Sold for $1,485,000

Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

  • Offered from The Thomas F. Derro Collection
  • One-off European coachwork on the long-wheelbase Model J chassis
  • Matching numbers with original frame, firewall, engine, and body
  • Exceptional restoration by Brian Joseph’s Classic & Exotic Service
  • Multiple national award-winner with striking beauty
  • Auburn Cord Duesenberg (ACD) Club Certified Category One (D-081)

The final standard Model J shipped to Europe, chassis number 2548 was mounted with engine J-519 and tested by the factory on 11 September 1933, then shipped on 9 February 1934. It arrived, like most European Duesenbergs, at E.Z. Sadovich’s Motors Deluxe dealership in Paris, which commissioned its coachwork from the renowned Belgian firm of d’Ieteren.

The body that d’Ieteren produced, striking in its clean curves, manages to both conceal the size of the car while also leaving an impression of power and beauty. The windshield wraps cleanly into the doors, in the style of a Dietrich Packard, while the raised top forms a cohesive curve that continues down into the streamlined rear deck. Interestingly, while many Duesenbergs of the period were largely skinned in aluminum, the d’Ieteren body is all steel, resulting in exceptional strength and rigidity. The body was originally finished in two shades of tan, with a dark blue frame, and, interestingly enough, sported Model J rear bumpers on both ends.

Motors Deluxe delivered the car in October 1935 to a Monsieur Addes, who had homes in the Netherlands and at the Hotel Majestic on Paris’ Avenue Kleber. It is believed that the Duesenberg subsequently moved to his Dutch home, as its second owner, L.R. Boissevain, also had a residence in that country.

Post-World War II, the Model J was exported to North America and purchased by Arthur James “Jim” Hoe, of the Hoe Sportcar Garage in Weston, Connecticut, the most well-known Duesenberg specialist of his time. Hoe subsequently sold the car to William Crossett of Pennsylvania, an early and highly regarded member of the Classic Car Club of America, in whose name the CCCA now bestows an award for the finest Classic completing its first CARavan.

Mr. Crossett participated in several early CARavans with his Model J, as did the next owner, the equally well-known Bill Kranz of Bay Village, Ohio, who purchased the car from Mr. Crossett in 1973. Mr. Kranz eventually elected to have the Model J restored, spending $9,000, a fortune at the time, to paint it two-tone red with a tan interior. In this form the car won many awards, was photographed for numerous books and calendars by the late Nicky Wright, and, in 1986, joined the late Rick Carroll’s extensive Duesenberg collection in Jensen Beach, Florida.

After Mr. Carroll’s passing in 1989, his stable was sold at a landmark sale held by Sotheby’s in West Palm Beach. The Duesenberg was acquired there by Jerry J. Moore of Houston, Texas, the most famous Model J connoisseur of his era, who eventually owned some 35 examples. He displayed the car until the late 1990s, then sold it to Dr. Joseph Murphy of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

By this time the car’s original restoration was showing its age, and Dr. Murphy commissioned Duesenberg authority Brian Joseph of Classic & Exotic Service in Troy, Michigan, to return it to original condition.

In a recent conversation Mr. Joseph noted that the car remained very solid, thanks to d’Ieteren’s exceptional workmanship, and that all of the original sheet metal was able to be preserved aside from the very edges of the doors and fenders. The entire chassis and running gear were fully restored, with the frame being finished before the body was installed, just as d’Ieteren had done it in 1935. The body itself was finished in an elegant and subtle two-tone blue, hues chosen by General Motors designer David Holls, and regained its original bumper arrangement and correct European-delivery Marchal headlamps. Dr. Murphy exhibited his Duesenberg at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning 2nd in Class in 1998.

The cabriolet was acquired by Thomas F. Derro in 2000, and has remained in his wonderful collection for 17 years. During that time it was only selectively displayed, always at major East Coast concours, including at Greenwich in 2003 and 2007 (Chairman’s Choice), and at Radnor Hunt in 2006 (Radnor Award). The car wears a CCCA Senior Premier badge, no. 96, from Mr. Kranz’s ownership.

Very well known in Model J circles, the d’Ieteren cabriolet is pictured in Dennis Adler’s Duesenberg (p. 261), Griffith Borgeson’s Errett Lobban Cord (pp. 246–247), Josh B. Malks’ Illustrated Duesenberg Buyer’s Guide (p. 118), and Fred Roe’s Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection (p. 221). Its restoration remains virtually flawless and show-worthy, and indeed, when moved from the Derro Collection recently, it fired right up and drove well, indicative of the care that it has received.

European-bodied Duesenbergs are few and far between, and seldom have the smooth and sensual lines of this one-off, numbers-matching cabriolet, which has enjoyed only the finest of care by great American enthusiasts for the last six decades.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


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California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more