Actor Gary Cooper's 1935 Duesenberg SSJ to be offered at auction

(August 13, 2018) Gooding & Company, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, will present one of the greatest American classic cars ever offered for public sale with an estimate in excess of $10 million — a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ owned by actor Gary Cooper. The auction will be held Aug. 24 and 25.

“This incredible car embodies everything that is exciting about an automotive masterpiece: beauty, rarity, provenance, and sheer power. This SSJ is one of the all-time greatest classics and is poised to set an auction record for pre-war American cars,” says David Gooding, founder and president of Gooding & Company.

The SSJ is a 1930s Hollywood star’s dream car, a glamorous icon, symbolic of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Imagine this gorgeous Duesenberg SSJ, tearing along Mulholland Drive, or Laurel Canyon Boulevard with legendary actor Gary Cooper at the wheel.

The car comes from the Miles Collier Collections housed in the Revs Institute in Naples, Fla.

Collier comments: “Many vehicles are billed as “speedsters” or “racers,” but the Duesenberg SSJ really was. Peaking at 140 mph in 1935 it was simply an unbeatable performer, matched by unbeatable style.

“And believe me, it is not easy to part with this wonderful car. It symbolizes so much in our history and has so much glamour and speed. But my mission is bigger than just one car. In today’s world, the automobile’s continued ability to be meaningful is under threat. Will the personal car be part of people’s lives in the future? Will people understand, and remember that the automobile is the most important invention of our age? That it shaped the world as we know it? I want to ensure the legacy of skills, appreciation, and care for the importance of motorcars is not lost.”

Proceeds from the sale will be used to support Collier’s mission to create a substantial, and self-sustaining automotive knowledge legacy for future generations.

With his wife Parker J. Collier, he is putting together a new team of leaders and thinkers to create Revs 2.0, an idea-driven, not object-centered, new, non-profit initiative to provide the meaningful car community with insights and expertise they couldn’t find anywhere else. Alongside Revs 2.0, Parker Collier’s new company, Meaningful Ventures will create profitable, self-sustaining enterprises to carry the cultural legacy of the car to future communities.

Work has begun, with friends, colleagues and like-minded people, to build Meaningful Ventures which reflect this vision. Collier Car Clubs will set up communities of meaningful car owners. Collier AutoMedia will educate, entertain, provoke and inform digital visitors and readers. The Panzer Project uses a vintage, Mercedes 540K Action Panzer as a reminder of the realities of evil. Collecting Arts is the creator of a revolutionizing curation software system for virtually any kind of collection.

The Gary Cooper example is one of only two Duesenberg SSJ models ever built and was constructed on a specially shortened 125-inch wheelbase. The two cars were immediately destined for Hollywood’s biggest superstars of the day — this SSJ, chassis J-563, went to Gary Cooper and the other SSJ, chassis J-567, went to Clark Gable.

Cooper had a lifelong love of cars — particularly fast ones. The SSJ is not a car for the faint of heart, as a 400-hp supercharged twin-cam inline 8-cylinder engine lies beneath its impressive hood. With an ultra-rare twin-carburetor intake, this car produced 80 horsepower more than the standard Duesenberg SJ, which was already the most powerful and one of the fastest production cars of its day.

The SSJ Speedsters sported a gorgeous lightweight open-roadster bob-tail body produced by LaGrande (Central Manufacturing Company), an Auburn subsidiary in Connersville, Indi. Quite simply, it is widely regarded as the ultimate Duesenberg.

Following Cooper’s ownership, the SSJ then passed through a string of fascinating California owners, from a 20-year-old millionaire in Los Angeles to an industrial designer in San Francisco. In 1949, the SSJ was acquired by pioneering collector D. Cameron Peck of Evanston, Ill. Peck, sold the SSJ Duesenberg to fellow collector and famed sportsman Briggs Swift Cunningham, who immediately jumped at the opportunity to acquire the car.

When Cunningham moved to California in the early 1960s, he founded the Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, to share his car collection with fellow enthusiasts. The Cunningham Museum immediately established a reputation as one of the finest automobile museums in the world. Over the next two decades, the SSJ Duesenberg was a standout in a museum that included some of the finest sports, racing, and luxury automobiles.

On Dec. 31, 1986, Miles Collier acquired the collection of Cunningham, who was a close family friend of the Collier family since the 1930s. Collier has since added to the collection, and is known for having one of the world’s finest automobile collections and is widely recognized for his unwavering commitment to the importance of the automobile.

Although he has owned some of the most significant automobiles in existence, the SSJ has been one of Collier’s prized possessions and has been prominently displayed at The Revs Institute for the last 32 years. Since 1949, J-567 has been in the hands of just two caretakers — Briggs Swift Cunningham and Miles Collier, among the greatest names in car collecting.

Source: Gooding and Company/ / Photos Gooding and Company