The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance brings out some of the most beautiful, important, rare, and expensive cars from around the world. And the auctions that take place around the event are no different. One of the most significant for sale this year is a Duesenberg originally owned by actor Gary Cooper. It could end up as one of the most expensive American cars ever sold.
This Duesenberg SSJ is one of just two ever built. The SSJ was a special short-wheelbase version of the SJ. It was just 3,200 mm between the wheels, as opposed to the 3,6200 mm of the SJ. The cars used a supercharged twin-cam inline eight-cylinder engine. Thanks to a special dual-carburettor intake, the SSJs made 80 hp more than the standard SJ. The SJ was already one of the most powerful production cars of the time, and the 400 hp SSJ flew past it.
Fittingly, both went to celebrity owners. The first was this car, sold to actor Gary Cooper.
After Cooper’s ownership, the car passed through a number of rich but somewhat less famous owners in California. In 1949, it was purchased by Chicago banker D. Cameron Peck. Peck was one of the first American car collectors, with one of the most superb collections of the time.
From there, it was sold to entrepreneur, yachtsman, and auto racer, Briggs Cunningham. It remained in the Cunningham collection until 1986, when the collection was acquired by Miles Collier.
With the rarity of this car, along with the string of famous owners and prominent collections in its history, the US $10 million (approx. CA $13.2 million) auction estimate from Gooding and Company is no surprise and it would make it one of the highest selling American cars of all time.