Tag Archives: E.L.Cord

The Biggest, Fastest, and most Expensive – Duesenberg J Derham Tourster

When E.L. Cord bought the Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company, Inc from the Dusenberg brothers in 1926, he appears to have quickly dispensed with the services of Augie and asked Fred Dusenberg to design a vehicle that was to be the biggest, fastest and most expensive car ever made.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Mr Cord rejected several of Fred’s prototypes before agreeing that the Model J powered by a 265hp 6876 cc/419 cui straight 8 motor mounted on a 153 inch chassis was just the thing to challenge the European brands Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce for market share in the premium automotive sector.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Launched in late 1928 at the New York Car Show, the chassis, premium vehicles at the time were sold as powered chassis with bespoke bodies ordered from independent coach builders, was originally priced at US $8,500 a price that might easily be doubled and in some cases nearly tripled once fitted with a bespoke body.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

The advanced double overhead cam 4 valves per cylinder motor, designed by Fred Duesenberg but built by E.L.Cords Lycoming company, could power the J from 10 mph to 90 mph in second gear and in supercharged SJ form is reputed to have been capable of 140 mph though roads where such a speed could be attained were far and few between.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Only 8 of the 481 J models produced were originally supplied with the Derham Tourster bodywork seen on this example which resides in the Haynes International Motor Museum.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Despite the success of an advertising campaign that featured an elegantly dressed man or equally elegantly dressed lady under the strap line ‘He/She drives a Duesenberg’ and a who’s who of Royalty and Hollywood stars that counted themselves as customers of the ‘Finest Car In The World’ the target production of 500 J models was never reached thanks to The Great Depression.

Duesenberg J Derham Tourster, Haynes International MM

Most of the chassis were built between 1929 and 1930 but the model was still being sold in 1937 by which time it had become outdated in it’s operation. This particular vehicle came to the Haynes International Motor Museum via the personal collection of former proprietor of the Los Angeles Times Otis Chandler.

Thanks for joining me on this ‘Finest Car In The World’ edition of ‘Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Don’t forget …

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