Who does not remember the movie Highlander (the last immortal)? “Only one will remain”, reads the “main phrase”. Here instead of immortals there are two left. Because of Duesenberg SSJ there have always been only and only two and it was already known what future these two objects on four wheels would have: they had been designed and built in total splendor, with innovative systems for the time, we are talking about 1935, almost 90 years ago. It was decided to assign these two wonderful girls with wheels to as many Hollywood stars. Well yes, their names may not mean anything to the millennials, but to those who are a little more mature, names like Clark Gable And Gary Cooper they still arouse emotion. To rattle off some technical data, we’ll limit ourselves to saying that the engine was a powerful 8-cylinder in line, so there was no shortage of space, considering that the “nose” was as long as a Panda. And its engine capacity was around 7,000 cc, here instead there were seven Pandas. Its code name was SSJ… the first two esses stood for Special Speedster while J stood for two-door “Corto Corto”, imagine how long the 4-door was.
The beautiful and characteristic thing about all the luxury cars of the time was the possibility of choosing the bodywork, i.e. the superstructure resting on the chassis. In practice, these were such exclusive objects that they gave you all the mechanics, including the steering wheel, and you chose the dress by entrusting it to the largest ateliers on the market. All this gave even more exclusivity to an already rare object, as each car was different from the next. Real rich stuff. In those days there were no cell phones or internet, the great American recession marked lives and the American dream clung to cinema more alive than ever. The term “Star” has never been more appropriate: Hollywood actors were like supernatural beings who made us dream and one of the few catalysts of those times was cinema. So the owners of Duesenberg to revive the fortunes of a brand that was on the decline, strategically assigned the only two SSJs produced to the two leading players of those years, obeying the logic of marketing. While Gable only used it for the duration of the contract, the handsome Gary decided to keep it and make it his own so he bought it, naturally at a preferential price, and came into possession of his avatar with four wheels. However, Gary Cooper immediately met a tall, handsome, rich, famous and with three Oscars rock: his wife, not exactly impressed by the color of the car so much so that the Duesenberg SSJ was sent back to the body shop to take on a new two-tone green-silver as a replacement of the original sand.
For the time, the car was truly avant-garde, with almost futuristic technical solutions. Combined with 400 hp tugboat powers supercharged for over 190 kmh, far too exuberant for cars of those years, but you know, whoever wants to be in the Olympus must dare, even with staggering numbers. We find this splendid brand as the protagonist in a recent film that was very successful. It was 2013, let’s talk about Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann based on the famous novel by Francis Scott Fitzgerald and in which an extraordinary Leonardo Di Caprio takes on the role of the billionaire who whizzes by in a yellow Duesenberg Model J 4-door Convertible. Two color notes: since the original cars were too expensive and rare to be used on set (in March 2013 a Duesenberg SJ Cabriolet Coupe model was auctioned for $4.5 million) two Model J replicas painted yellow and modified for filming. Furthermore, before starting filming, DiCaprio wanted to try his hand at driving these four-wheeled cruisers to understand the limits and ways of using such an aircraft carrier and this was only possible thanks to the collaboration of an American museum which arrive two cars, obviously only aesthetically original, by flying them inside a cargo plane from the States to Sydney where the shooting of the film would begin. In short, despite having had an all in all short productive life (from 1929 to 1937) Duensenberg was certainly a brand that left its mark in the world of the most famous luxury cars.