|1936 Duesenberg SJ-544|
|LIFE - December 26, 1938|
Christian Bohman immigrated to the us at the age of 18, and after working at some of the well know New York coachworks, he found himself in the employ of the Walter M. Murphy Co. when Murphy acquired his previous employer - Healey & Company. According to coachbuilt.com, Bohman left Murphy in 1930 to establish his own shop, joining forces with his friend Maurice Schwartz after Murphy closed in 1932. Early work consisted of paint and repair for their automobile row neighbors in Pasadena. As news of their previous association with Murphy got around, they were able to inherit Murphy’s fine reputation as well as a few past employees. Designers Herb Newport, Franks Spring and W. Everett Miller were called upon to contribute designs for many custom Duesenbergs - clients included Clark Gable, Ethel Mars, Barbara Hutton, and Henry Topping Jr.
Henry (Bob) Topping Jr. was a wealth socialite and grandson of tin-plate magnate Daniel Reid. His brother, Dan Topping, was part owner of the New York Yankees (1945-1964). Henry seems to have spent most of his time getting married (and divorced) to a string of showgirls and actresses (including Lana Turner – 1948-1952). Henry spent a considerable amount of time in Los Angles / Hollywood and it seems logical that he would select Bohman & Schwartz to create this fantastic convertible sedan for him just prior to the first of his four marriages. Of the 481 model J Duesenbergs produced, only 36 were the supercharged version now known as the SJ.