Hundreds of superlatives have graced the name Duesenberg throughout automotive history. Yet there is only one Mormon Meteor. Ab Jenkins and the Mormon Meteor set numerous speed and endurance records on the Bonneville salt-flats, all captured with stunning yet purposeful coachwork and American engineering.
The Duesenberg story alone could fill these pages with record achievements, but the Mormon Meteor stands alone being the most powerful, the fastest, and arguably the most dramatic of all the Duesenbergs ever built. Ab Jenkins, a successful building contractor based in Salt Lake City, loved Bonneville. Setting records was his passion. A tireless champion and pioneer of Bonneville Racing, he built a special car to break all records.
Starting with a Model J chassis. Duesenberg body designer Herbert Newport created a streamlined body with the latest aerodynamic ideas, including a sloped grille, enclosed front frame horns, a narrow two-seat body, minimal frontal area, full belly pans, and 18" wire wheels. Clever pontoon fenders with tapered fairings smoothed out the airflow disrupted by the tires. The chassis used stock J suspension and driveline except for a special dropped tubular front axle that dramatically lowered the nose for better stability. The single headlight served only to mark the black line on the 10 mile diameter track. Two modified stock supercharged SJ engines employed special camshafts, a pair of duplex Bendix-Stromberg UU-3 carburetors and a "ram’s horn" manifold resulting in 400 horsepower at 5,000 rpm.
Several record attempts ended prematurely until the second engine was installed and Jenkins took the wheel for the last attempt. Stopping every 400 miles for fuel, tires and a safety check, on August 31, 1935 the run ended with the Mormon Meteor achieving a succession of new records including the top mark, covering 3,253 miles in 24 hours at 135.47 miles per hour, an amazing accomplishment.
Even though the Mormon Meteor’s reign as the fastest automobile in the world was short, it was significant both for what it foretold of the future of record-breaking and for the power, handling and durability of the basically standard Duesenberg J chassis and its mildly modified engine.
The Automodello™ 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster Mormon Meteor has been faithfully recreated in scale depicting all the grace, power, and presence of this truly great American Racing icon.