The development of the SJ Mormon Meteor came about because of one man, Ab Jenkins.
Known at the time as the "King of Speed", Jenkins enlisted the help of Erret Lobban
Cord, owner of the Duesenberg operation, to help develop a car capable of setting new speed records.
The team started with the engine, and by fitting a supercharger were able to increase the already healthy capacity from 265 bhp @ 4200 rpm (as fitted to the Model J
) to between 320 and 390 bhp.
In 1932 their dreams were realized when the “SJ”
was released. The celebrations were short lived, Fred
Duesenberg having a bad accident during testing of the
car – he would later die from resultant complications.
The SJ itself, of which only 36 were ever built, was
said to develop 320bhp, could top 130mph (209 km/h)
and was good for the 0-100 mph dash in a mere 17 seconds.
August would take over his brothers responsibilities
as chief engineer, and would see his brothers creation, being piloted by Ab Jenkins,
reach an astounding 135mph (217 km/h) for 24 consecutive
hours, thus setting a new record at the
Bonneville Salt Flats on the 31st August 1935. At the end of the day, the Mormon Special had posted an incredible top speed of 244.80 km/h.
But unlike the English specialists Campbell, Cobb and Eyston, who used plane engines, the SJ Mormon Meteor used a more traditional "Curtiss Conqueror" engine.
And unlike the more "purpose built" Bluebird specials, the Mormon Meteor was capable of being transformed into a road-going beast - and that is just what Jenkins did, he fitting the car with a windshield to allow its use on the open road.
And what's with the name we hear you ask. Well that came about after a local newspaper based in Salt Lake City organised a contest to name the beast, and Mormon Meteor got the gong.