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The Clark Gable 1935 SSJ Duesenberg in Los Angeles

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  • Clark Gable SSJ Duesenberg, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

It is not every day one comes across a period photo of an SSJ Duesenberg as only two of the short-wheelbase Duesenberg supercharged Model SJ were ever built; both Roadsters were destined to become famous automobiles when they were completed in 1935. This car was used when new by Clark Gable and the other was purchased by Gary Cooper and both cars have survived. They have been named the SSJ by enthusiasts with the second S standing for the short 125-inch wheelbase.

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  •                   Standard Model J engine – Supercharged SJ engine

The SJ engine seen above right was introduced in 1932 after Fred Duesenberg designed a system whereby he relocated the water pump and added a supercharger drive to the front of the assembly. The standard SJ system of which some thirty or more were originally built, took the advertised 265 h.p. and raised it to 320. The two roadsters utilized a special manifold on top of the supercharger along with provisions for two carburetors that raised the horsepower mark to a reported 400.

Can any of our readers identify the passenger in the Gable car or tell us more about this photo or its date? Engine photos from the Fred Roe Duesenberg Collection were you can view many more images courtesy of Racemaker Press.

7 responses to “The Clark Gable 1935 SSJ Duesenberg in Los Angeles

  1. Duesenberg gave Gary Cooper the first one to use. Gable, a good friend of Coop, wanted one and they gave him use of the second one . They were given the chance to buy them at a great price. Cooper bought his. Gable did not.

    • Old Cars Weekly published an extensive article a couple of years ago about the 2 SSJ’s. In that article they provided a comprehensive list of the owners of the 2 cars. My friend’s father, Stacy Carkhuff, of Topeka, KS., owned 1 of the 2 cars in the early ’50’s (1953 I think it was). I would like a copy of that article, or at least to know which car Stacy Carkhuff owned. The OCW article simply identified him as “Stacy Carkhuff of Kansas”.

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