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It doesn’t get much more collectible than a Duesenberg. Like many luxury companies during the 1930s, Duesenberg didn’t last long and only made a handful of cars. While Duesnebergs are all rare, this particular million-dollar barn find is exceedingly rare, with only 25 units ever being made. Of those 25 1931 Duesenbergs, one recently got saved from the gave, well, a tiny locked garage in the suburbs. 

1931 Duesenberg barn find
Duesenberg barn find | Jacob Olivia

Feast your eyes on this million-dollar barn find

Doug Pray, a member of the family that owns the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Company in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, got a phone call from a lady saying she had an old car in her garage for the past 50 years. Pray was in disbelief when he found out the million-dollar barn find was a Duesenberg. 

This barn find wasn’t just any Duseneberg, though. According to Motor1, it was a 1931 Duesenberg Model J with a Murphy Body and disappearing convertible top, which is one of only 25 ever made. In fact, this is one of the most desirable cars in the world, and it was stuffed in a garage so small the rear bumper had to be removed in order to close the door. 

1931 Duesenberg Model J

Pray says that his plan for the car is to get it back to headquarters, where the team will get in running and driving shape, and then leave it on display in as-found condition. He says that he will eventually give it a thorough restoration, where it will then be a worthy contender for the fanciest car show in the world, Concours. 

According to an RM Sotheby’s listing for a 1931 Duesenberg Model J with the same disappearing top configuration, the model rocked “a 420 cubic-inch DOHC inline eight-cylinder engine making 265 hp with a three-speed Warner Hi-Flex manual transmission, beam-type front and live rear axles with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and vacuum-assisted four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes.”

The Walter M. Murphy Company made approximately 100 bodies for Duesenberg. While there were other Model J bodies, no other coachbuilder made as many bodies as Murphy did. This makes the Murphy-bodied cars the unofficial de facto body for the Model J. However, while the majority of convertible Model Js had a soft roof that folded into a small package on the rear of the car, this Model J  and only 24 others ever got the “disappearing roof.” That one feature turns this already rare car into a proper unicorn. 

How much is a Duesenberg Model J worth? 

1931 Duesenberg Model J being pulled out of a garage
Duesenberg Model J | Jacob Olivia

Given the age and rarity of these cars, the Scrooge McDucks who haunt the Concours are waiting like sharks to snatch these depression-era models up for quite a pile of coins. In 2015, the Model J referenced at Sotheby’s sold for an upsetting $3,520,000. Even in its current shape, the barn find Duesenberg is still worth in the many hundreds of thousands if not close to a million dollars. Can you imagine finding a cool million-dollar bill in your garage? While many people believe the barn finds are all found, stories like this continue to be told on the internet. Every time another comes to the light of day, it should give us hope that there are still more to be found.