HomeCar CultureNew Duesenberg Book Examines the SSJ

New Duesenberg Book Examines the SSJ

Self-published labor of love by Old Cars Weekly editor


What’s the greatest of all the American brands? While Bugatti, Hispano-Suiza, Delage, Delahaye, Rolls-Royce, and Mercedes-Benz get to fight the European side, Duesenberg seems to stand at the top in the North American continent without peer.

(Angelo Van Bogart photo)

Though founded in 1920 in Indiana, Duesenberg as we know it didn’t really come into its own until the introduction of the Model J in December 1928. The timing was impeccable, as the Great Depression would hit 10 months later but, as America’s most exclusive automobile, Duesenberg played the role of excess quite nicely. With twin cams and four valved per cylinder, the 420cid V8 was rated at 265 horsepower. Starting in 1932, the supercharged J (often referred to as SJ)  was introduced with 320 horsepower.

Styling was conservative, with streamlining not joining the Duesenberg portfolio until 1935 with the so-called JN, a series of 10 cars produced by Rollston. However, a short-wheelbase, supercharged J now known as the SSJ may be the most desirable of all. With a wheelbase of 125 inches (almost 18 inches less than the standard wheelbase) and an engine bumped to almost 400 horsepower thanks to twin carbs and special manifold from the “Mormon Meteor” speed record car, the SSJ was the ultimate Duesie. Only two were built, one bought by actor Gary Cooper in 1935 and the other lent to prominent Duesenberg owner Clark Gable. As a result of the connection to these actors, these SSJs are known by these namesakes.

Old Cars Weekly editor Angelo Van Bogart has produced a labor of love that he calls Inside the Duesenberg SSJ: The Special Speedsters. Intensive research and his connections to the world of pre-war scholars has given Angelo the opportunity to deliver the history and lineage of two of the most important cars from the United States. The vintage photos alone, many from old Los Angeles, are worth the price of admission.

Sorry, Inside the Duesenberg SSJ: The Special Speedsters is not available at your local Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon but, in a nod to modern living, you can email Angelo at and order your own copy.

(Angelo Van Bogart photo)

ISBN: 978-0-578-65448-5
120 pages, 10-1/4 by 8-3/4-inch hardcover
$85 domestic orders, $120 international orders
Limited to 1,000 signed copies

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in the Southwest.


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