Barn finds aren’t as common as they used to be, but there are still a few hidden gems out there, like this rare 1931 Duesenberg Model J, which was recently uncovered after almost six decades in storage.
Classic car YouTube channel Nobody’s Show documented the story of the Duesenberg, which was parked in 1967 and just recently unearthed by the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company, an Oklahoma Duesenberg specialist built around the defunct automaker’s leftover parts inventory.
This particular car was left to the owner by her father, so it wasn’t really missing, just in storage. After decades sitting in the residential garage, the car’s owner finally reached out to have it removed and restored.
Brothers Fred and August Duesenberg started out building engines for other automakers before launching their first car in 1921, and later selling the business to E.L. Cord,who combined Duesenberg with Auburn and his eponymous Cord brand. Fred Duesenberg stayed on as chief engineer, but August gradually backed away from the operation.
Boasting a sophisticated-for-the-time overhead-cam straight-8 engine, Duesenbergs were among the fastest and most desirable cars of their era. However, a decline in luxury-car sales brought on by the Great Depression sealed the company’s fate, and production ended in 1937.
The relatively small number of Duesenbergs built and their significance in automotive history has made them prized collectibles. Restored examples typically sell for seven figures at auction and take home concours prizes.
That also means a dedicated corps of enthusiasts keeps track of any remaining cars.
There have been some high-profile Duesenberg barn finds over the years, including a 1931 Model J sedan pulled out of a New York City parking garage in 2005, and a Model X (no, Tesla didn’t originate that name) found in a suburban California garage around that time. Both are now in Jay Leno’s collection.
It would seem there aren’t many lost Duesenbergs left to find, which makes this car all the more remarkable. Of the 481 Model J chassis built, it’s one of just 25 Murphy convertibles with what was called a “disappearing” top that was stowed under a tonneau cover. It was also capable of 88 mph in second gear. Eat your heart out, DeLorean.
Given this car’s garage-find status, the plan is to exhibit it as-is for the time being, with a full concours-quality restoration in the future.
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