The Duesenberg Model J was introduced at the New York Auto Salon on December 1, 1928. The combination of the Duesenberg reputation with the Model J's grandeur and elegance made it the star of the show. Duesenberg ordered sufficient components to build 500 Model Js while continuing development to ensure its perfection. The first delivery came in May 1929, barely five months before Black Tuesday.
The effect of the Duesenberg J on America can't be overstated. Even in the depths of the Depression, this paragon of power was a portent of prosperity. Duesenberg's advertising became a benchmark, featuring the wealthy and privileged in opulent surroundings with only a single line of copy: "He drives a Duesenberg" or "She drives a Duesenberg." The external exhaust pipes of the supercharged models inspired generations of auto designers and remain - more than four score years later - a symbol of power and performance.
Despite having body companies of his own - Central Body Company of Connellsville, Indiana and Union City Body Company of that Indiana town - E.L. Cord relied heavily on outside, more upscale clothiers for his marquee marque. Duesenberg customers could, of course, order their own bodies from coachbuilders of their choice, but Duesenberg, Inc., as it became known, also purchased directly from coachbuilders, although in very small quantities. Among the suppliers were Willoughby, Derham, LeBaron, Judkins, American Weymann, Walker, Brunn, Holbrook and Locke, a veritable who's who of American craftsmanship. Quantities from these constructors ranged from 50 to one. By far the most bodies, however, came from the Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California.
In 1924, Murphy hired Frank S. Spring as an 'efficiency manager'. Spring had a fascination with European fashion and subscribed to the French publication L'Auto Carrosserie. There he came across a construction technique pioneered by Gangloff, which hinged both front and rear doors on the B-pillar, allowing the glass drops to be very close together. Roof pillars were made of cast bronze, as thin as practicable, which provided the driver unparalleled visibility and gave the whole car a light, airy character. This basic architecture, which Murphy called 'Clear Vision', was used for touring sedans, hardtop sedans and town cars on chassis from Packard to Cord to Duesenberg.
Despite being the principal supplier of coachbuilt bodies to Duesenberg, Inc., Murphy built very few Clear Vision sedans. By far the most popular Murphy styles were the familiar convertible coupes, with convertible sedans running a not too distant second. The late Duesenberg historian Fred Roe estimated that only about five of the distinctive Clear Vision cars were built, at least one with blind rear quarters.
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