Art of the Automobile

21 November 2013

Lot 124

1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Beverly by the Walter M. Murphy Company

To be auctioned on Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sold for $1,760,000

  • Chassis no. 2538
  • Engine no. J-512
  • Body no. 978
History is important to us, and all lots offered are fully researched. All corresponding information and accessories, from certificates to tool kits, stays with the lots we sell. All of this is held at our library on site, under the Access the Knowledge banner, so please visit us there or contact us before the auction if you require further information.


  • The most beautiful and desirable closed coachwork on the Duesenberg chassis
  • The only factory-supercharged Beverly built
  • Still equipped with an original supercharger today
  • Winner of multiple Best in Show and Best in Class awards


Many of the most beautiful bodies for Duesenberg were created not by private coachbuilders, but by Gordon Miller Buehrig, who was hired in 1929 as Duesenberg’s chief body designer. Buehrig would enjoy one of the richest and most successful careers of any American automotive designer. Following his work for Duesenberg, he would create the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster for corporate sibling Auburn Automobile Company, as well as the mold-breaking Cord 810 and 812. His work was dashing, ahead of its time, and distinguished by beautifully tailored proportions and an eye for fine detail. He was a natural designer who truly saw cars as art, as evidenced by the title of his autobiography, Rolling Sculpture.

THE BEVERLY

One of Buehrig’s classic designs for the Model J, and among the designer’s proudest creations, was a sedan called the Beverly. Originally created for the Chicago Auto Salon of 1930, it was designed as a formal car for city use; it would have sporty, close-coupled proportions and aircraft-inspired design features, but it would also be suitable for chauffeured use. In addition, it would have a large trunk, should the owner wish to take it outside of the city for extended touring purposes.

The design’s distinguishing features were a dramatic, slanted windshield that was framed on the sides by small, triangular panes and a roofline that “dropped” in a vee between the side windows, with both serving to lighten the otherwise formal appearance of the car. Buehrig claimed that he borrowed the “drop” in the roof from the convertible tops of cars designed by Paris coachbuilders Hibbard & Darrin, but he was able to “crisp” the design by using metal frames and a fixed roof, keeping the lines well defined.

The interior was equally impressive. The rear seat was split into two cozy armchairs, by means of a fixed center armrest. “In the cabinet behind the front seat,” Buehrig noted, “we installed a radio, a glove box, and a rear seat instrument panel. Since the Duesenberg Model J was the only American car capable of 100 miles per hour, I reasoned the rear seat passenger would enjoy a speedometer.”

A total of 10 Beverlys were produced, with eight of them by the Walter M. Murphy Company, of Pasadena, California, and an additional pair by the Rollston Company, of New York City. In typical Duesenberg style, no two were alike, with each commission as unique as its fascinating original owner.

ENGINE NUMBER J-512

The Beverly offered here is Murphy body number 978, meaning that this coachwork was built directly after body number 977, the first Beverly, which was shown in Chicago. It was ordered by G.E. Crandall, an executive at Montgomery Ward and resident of Chicago’s Gold Coast. It is quite likely that Mr. Crandall saw the original Beverly at the salon in his hometown, and he decided to order a duplicate for himself. Mr. Crandall kept his Model J for fewer than two years, at which point it was returned to the Duesenberg factory branch in the Windy City.

In 1933, Powel Crosley Jr., renowned manufacturer of radios, iceboxes, and, in the future, compact cars, ordered a new Duesenberg, specifying the newly available “SJ” engine, which was equipped with a centrifugal supercharger and was capable of producing 320 horsepower. By the time this order was placed, Murphy was out of business, and one can logically assume that the only way to fill the order for a supercharged Beverly was to move Mr. Crandall’s body into this chassis, number 2538, to which it was mated with engine number J-512. After removal from its original chassis, the body was reconditioned and updated with new wheels and fender skirts, to suit 1933 design trends.

This was the first body fitted to this brand-new chassis, and it has been united to it ever since. In addition, this was the final Beverly sold to a customer, it is the only example on the factory SJ chassis, and it was the only one built without a division window; we can assume that Mr. Crosley preferred to drive himself, which is in keeping with his sporty and debonair image.

Crosley enjoyed his Duesenberg for five years, after which it began two decades of trading among short-term owners in the Windy City. It was sold out of a Chicago Buick dealer to Edward Bonham, an early collector of great foresight and enviable taste. This Duesenberg shared his garage with, among other fine vehicles, another Duesenberg and a 1934 Packard LeBaron Sport Phaeton.

Sadly, Mr. Bonham’s untimely death intervened in his ownership, and the Duesenberg was sold to Fred Benson. Mr. Benson was a very active Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club member, and finding out that the Model J was out of use since the 1950s, he returned it to running order and used it to participate in Midwestern meets. “OH BOY does it run!” he noted to the club’s newsletter in 1971.

Its impressive power aside, Mr. Benson chose to part with the Duesenberg in 1973. The next decade saw it displayed at the Movieworld Museum, a renowned center of California “kustom kulture,” by then-owner James Packer, as well as in the collections of Dave Deuble and the renowned Minnesota enthusiast Andrew Darling.

Following Darling’s passing, the Duesenberg was purchased by collector and enthusiast Lee Herrington. By this time, the car’s restoration was presentable but aging, and it was certainly not up to its new owner’s perfectionist standards. Mr. Herrington intended to restore the car, and to that end, he set about acquiring a replacement for the original supercharger, which had been removed at some point in its life. While reproduction superchargers were, and are, readily available, only a genuine original “blower,” one of the 36 units built in Indianapolis in the 1930s, was acceptable for Mr. Herrington. At long last, he was able to acquire such a treasure, at great cost.

In 2006, the car and supercharger were both sold to the present owner, another renowned collector, who handed the project to RM Auto Restoration, of Blenheim, Ontario, for a long-awaited rebirth.

During the restoration process, the Beverly was carefully dismantled down to the last nut and screw, with each component identified, cleaned, carefully assessed, and restored to the highest standards of fit and finish. However, its decades of being well-kept were in its favor. The woodwork was found to be in excellent condition, with only minimal replacement required. The drivetrain was complete, and every component was removed, carefully rebuilt and refinished, and then installed back on the car, importantly including the original supercharger that Mr. Herrington had acquired.

Extensive research ensured that every detail would be faithful to the original materials and finish. For instance, the interior trim and upholstery are identical in form and pattern to the originals. For many years, it had been thought that this car did not have a rear seat armrest, as was standard for the Beverly. However, in removing the rear seat upholstery, fittings for the armrest were discovered; so that feature was returned to the car after many decades of absence. The fenders were returned to their original open design, and correct chrome wire wheels were installed.

This spectacular machine has been shown extensively since the completion of its photo-documented restoration, with results that one would suspect of such excellence. Its Best of Show list includes the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club National Reunion in 2008, the Fairfield County Concours d’Elegance in 2009, and the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles in 2010. It was also Best in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2008 and at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2010.

A thing of beauty, as they say, is a joy forever, and for decades, this car has brought joy to its owners, through driving pleasure and, more recently, triumphant concours appearances. Beautifully taken back to its original opulence, it remains the only factory-supercharged Beverly, one of Gordon Buehrig’s most legendary designs, and it is, quite possibly, the most beautiful closed Duesenberg ever built. With an original supercharger as the crowning glory on its outstanding restoration, it is ready to continue to venture out and earn awards…or to peg both speedometers.

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

Alain Squindo


Detroit, Michigan

Alain Squindo joined RM Auctions in 2007, after graduating from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in History. R... read more

Alex Classick

aclassick@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Alex Classick joined RM Europe in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Nottingham University with a degree in Business Mana... read more

Alexander Weaver

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+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Alexander Weaver joined RM Auctions in 2011 as a car specialist, after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born into ... read more

Annette Abaci

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+49 (0) 40 441 95 737
Germany

With post-secondary degrees in Economic Science and Mechanical Engineering, Annette Abaci initially worked part-time at Mercedes-Benz ... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a senior car specialist, after more than a decade in the collector car hobby... read more

Dan Warrener

dwarrener@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Possessing a degree in Economics from Brandon University, Dan Warrener spent the initial stages of his career working around the globe... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmauctions.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don Rose joined RM Auctions in 2006, after many years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputatio... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmauctions.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, USA

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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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord joined RM Auctions in 1998, initially responsible for the transportation and logistics of the company’s auction and restora... read more

Ian Kelleher

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+1 310 559 4575
New York, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College, with a B.A. in Politica... read more

Jack Boxstrom

jboxstrom@rmauctions.com

+1 818 703 2816
Ontario, Canada

Jack Boxstrom joined RM Auctions in late-1996 to assist with the recently acquired, and subsequently record-breaking, auction in Monte... read more

Max Girardo

mgirardo@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Max Girardo started his career in the vintage automobile industry in 1998, joining Brooks Auctioneers (now Bonhams) as a car specialis... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Auctions, Mike Fairbairn has a longstanding interest in the classic car industry. Graduati... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007, following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, read more

Peter Giddings

pgiddings@rmauctions.com

+1 925 831 2048
California, United States

A life-long car enthusiast, Peter joined RM’s California office with over half a century of experience in the automotive and rac... read more

Peter Blond

pblond@rmauctions.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Blond joined the RM Europe team in 2013 after being immersed in the collector car industry for more than 60 years. An... read more

Rob Myers

rmyers@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As chairman and founder of the RM Group of Companies, Rob Myers’s entire career has been devoted to the classic car industry. Ro... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

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

Vinnie Mandzak

vmandzak@rmauctions.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, USA

Vinnie Mandzak joined RM Auctions’ California office in 2012 as a car specialist, following more than 30 years’ experience... read more

Jeff Whiteside

jwhiteside@rmauctions.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jeff Whiteside joined RM Auctions as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer following almost three decades in a diverse r... read more