Although European enthusiasts often deride post war American cars, the Duesenberg SJ model is proof that, before the Second World War, the Americans could produce a car as good as any in the world. As well as being the basis for some spectacular coach work, the SJ was more than just a pretty face. In supercharged form, its twin camshaft, four valves per cylinder Lycoming straight eight engine produced 320 bhp, and could push the monstrous 50 cwt (2545 kg) car up to a more than respectable speed of 130 mph (208 km/h). With its hemispherical combustion chambers and fully balanced, five bearing, nickel plated crankshaft, this long stroke design could rev safely to 5000 rpm. There were servo assisted hydraulic brakes to do the stopping, and the chassis was a massive affair with six tubular cross members. In chassis form alone, the car was more expensive than a Rolls Royce. Ownership was strictly the preserve of millionaires, celebrities and film stars, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo and William Randolph Hurst all owned SJs.
Founded in 1920 by Ferd and August Duesenberg, the company was best known for its racing cars, but poor sales led to a take over by E.L. Cord and the Auburn film at the end of the decade. Cord provided the brothers with the money to build an ultimate car from the ground up, the J and SJ being the result. Only 26 SJs were built between 1932 and the end of production in 1937.