The highly anticipated auction by acclaimed auctioneer Gooding & Co., the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on 18 and 19 August will offer Clark Gable’s 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe among many significant and valuable cars. This rare car, one of only 10 JNs built – an elegant and luxurious development from Duesenberg’s original model J, and one of only four examples bodied as a convertible coupe, was especially modified for “The King of Hollywood”.
The story is that in January, 1936, Gable was driving his 1935 Duesenberg Model JN convertible when convinced the actress Carole Lombard (in that time object of his affection) to “take a spin around town” with him. When he invited her to his suite a few miles away at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, she famously replied, “Who do you think you are? Clark Gable?” Throughout their passionate and widely-publicized Hollywood relationship, the famous film couple enjoyed his new Duesenberg, including a long drive up the West Coast to Vancouver, British Columbia. Their relationship tragically ended six years later with Lombard’s death in an airplane crash.
The Model JN that Gable bought originally had a body by Rollston. But famous actor decided it wasn’t audacious enough for his tastes, so he took it to master coachbuilders Bohman & Schwartz, in Pasadena, Calif., for a complete re-working. The modifications included body-colored radiator cowl and headlamp pods, raked windshield, extended hood with custom air scoops, re-location of the side-mounted spares to a double-deck “continental kit” at the rear, rear fender skirts, chrome side pipe exhausts (with a driver-controlled bypass lever), functional rumble seat, and a stowable convertible top.
This particular automobile, also featured in 1938 film “Merrily We Live” and Special Award Winner at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance came to the auction blocks without any public estimate about the price.