This incredibly rare, beautifully maintained, and well-documented 1935 Deusenberg SSJ just claimed the title of most expensive American car ever sold at auction, bringing in a grand total of $22,000,000 including the buyer’s premium. That’s 60-percent higher than the previous most expensive American car, CSX 2000, the first Shelby Cobra, also making it the most expensive pre-War car ever sold.
Unlike the Cobra, which wore a wore a lightweight British body over a Ford V-8 engine, this Duesenberg is all American to its cord, from its hot-rodded, 400-horsepower, supercharged inline eight-cylinder engine to its rare short-wheelbase chassis, both of which were only used on two Duesenberg SSJs. Gooding & Company’s 2018 Pebble Beach event was the first time an SSJ had ever been up for sale at auction. Its list of owners includes Golden Age film actor Gary Cooper and American sports car racer and builder Briggs Cunningham.
The auction tent filled up as soon as the Deusenberg rolled onto the stage, as spectators that had been milling about the other cars previewed nearby knew this was a car to watch. Bidding for the drop-top was heated from the get-go, and was at $10 million within minutes of rolling on stage, quickly jumping to $12M with bids coming in from the floor. After slowing down around the $13M mark, two phone bidders began a quick back-and-forth that chased the price up until ten minutes in, when the last bid was entered at $20M. With the buyer’s premium of 10%, the total came to $22M, blowing away the previous record held by the Shelby and surely making the owner of the only other SSJ take notice.