Updated: Oct 27
Inside the Duesenberg SSJ
The Special Speedsters
Angelo Van Bogart
Over the decades, Duesenberg automobiles have been chronicled in books, magazines and film. Yet one vital chapter in the company’s noble history has escaped detailed coverage: The two iconic 1935 SSJs or “Special Speedsters.”
Eight years of exhaustive research and collaboration with marque scholars, author and Old Cars Weekly Editor, Angelo Van Bogart, has delivered an essential guide to the ultimate American classic. Factory archival images, historic owner photographs and current-day galleries showcase what would become known as the “Cooper” and “Gable” SSJs. I first laid eyes on J-567 at the ACD Reunion in the late sixties with Al Ferrara behind the wheel. A teenage dream fulfilled!
Original design renderings illustrate the vehicle’s evolution where each example has small but unique differentiating elements: rear fenders, taillamps, bumpers, to name a few. That J-567’s association with Gable was a factory loan, J-563 is documented under Cooper’s ownership from 1936-39. My favorite section of the book describes J-567’s post-Gable owner, MGM musician Georgie Stall, and a very special first date in the fast Speedster to a local Hollywood hangout. You can picture the scene in every nuanced detail!
Market valuations are covered and it's no secret about the jaw-dropping price J-563 fetched at a 2018 Monterey auction. J-567 was purchased by the current owner’s grandfather in 1963 for the princely sum of $12,000 “hard cash.”
A handy road map to each car’s vital stats meets readers at the book’s centerfold. However, I would prefer an Appendix chock full of data at the back accompanied by an Index. Some image scans would benefit from descreening, and while the embossed cover is a classy touch, perhaps a group shot of both SSJs or an archival image would better communicate the book’s visually stunning contents.
While the replica market has attempted to put its own stamp on the classic form, there’s only the real thing. The author has produced a book worthy of every enthusiast’s bookshelf, and with less than 1,000 printed, copies will soon be scarcer than this ultimate Duesenberg.
Copies may be ordered directly from the author at DuesenbergSSJbook@gmail.com.
120 pages, 10-1/4” X 8-3/4” landscape, hardcover, no dust jacket
Limited 1,000 signed copies
150 photos color and B&W, vehicle details, marketing, values. $85 domestic orders, $120 international orders