As far as our records indicate, neither of the two Duesenberg SSJs built have ever come to auction. That’s about to change—the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ speedster once owned by Gary Cooper is heading to the auction block at the Gooding & Company event at Pebble Beach during Monterey Car Week.
Previous owners of the car (chassis 5294) include Gary Cooper, star of dozens of movies from Hollywood’s golden age, who was the original owner, and racer/car builder Briggs Cunningham, who kept the car as the star of his collection for years. Its sister car was owned by fellow Hollywood leading man Clark Gable.
Duesenbergs are known for their elegant style, road presence, technological advancements for the age, and of course the power and performance of their DOHC inline-eight engines. Perhaps the most well-known are the SJ models that used a shaft-driven centrifugal supercharger to produce 320 horsepower from a 7.0-liter engine. Keep in mind that a contemporary 7.4-liter Cadillac V-16 produced 165 horsepower. Only two copies of the SSJ were made and they were the most powerful of Duesenberg production. The SSJ’s higher-performance engine, with its unique intake manifold, output a staggering 400 horsepower.
Not only were the SSJ models more powerful, they were built on a shorter chassis than the J or SJ, resulting in a lighter, more nimble roadster that was head and shoulders above its peers in the pre-war era.
This car’s provenance, its rarity, and its performance clout could make it one of the most notable collector cars in the country, even among the upper echelon cars that find their way to Pebble Beach. When this Duesy hits the stage, it will make history.