30 Greatest American Sports Cars

1935 Duesenberg Model J/SSJ

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Duesenberg introduced the Model J as their luxury sports car. The idea was that it would be powerful to compete with any car. Of course, they introduced the Model J in 1928, one year before the great stock market crash paved the way for America’s great depression. Timing is everything!  The original goal had been to make 500 cars per year. They didn’t come close to that and only made 300 total from 1929 to 1930. That being said, the Model J was a powerful and wonderful vehicle and the company didn’t collapse.

At the time it was often the size of the car that mattered, but the Model J put out 265 horsepower. On a hot hatch, that would tear through the streets now. However, on a gigantic Model J that weighed between two and a half to 3 tons, it wasn’t quite the fireballer that we could hope for.

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The Model J was not a car for a poor man. The car ranged from $13,000 to $25,000 at a time when people were making an average of around $3,000. The price varied because you could buy just the chassis or the completed car. That’s also why the weight would vary so much. There were all kinds of custom body and coach work that could be done for it.

Star Power For the SSJ

Only two SSJ versions were ever created. The SSJ stands for short wheelbase supercharged model j. These cars were lighter and had a lot more power. The engine managed a ridiculous for the time 400 horsepower. The car was able to travel at top speeds that other cars could only hope for.

The first one was purchased by the movie star Gary Cooper. The second one was originally just created to be housed as headquarters. Clark Gable always saw Gary in his car and was horribly jealous. He went to Duesenberg to see if he could purchase one as well. Since he had been a past buyer and loyal to the company, they sold him the other SSJ that was at headquarters. They were well known for racing their ridiculously fast SSJ’s through Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills after that.

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