The Duesenberg SJ: A Duesy Wins the Beauty Contest.
The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, the exclusive beauty contest for historic cars, recently took place, leaving us all reminiscing about the glorious days spent by the enchanting shores of Lake Como. The stunning grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este provided the perfect backdrop for a dazzling display of historic automobiles, captivating the hearts of the numerous visitors and international press in attendance. Among the eight captivating award classes, one remarkable car emerged as the overall winner: the Duesenberg SJ Speedster, styled by Gurney Nutting, from the year 1935.
With great pomp and pride, the owner of the victorious Duesenberg, William Lyon, was bestowed the coveted Trofeo BMW Group – Best of Show, presented by none other than Helmut Käs, Head of BMW Group Classic and President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, accompanied by Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange und Söhne. As a delightful bonus, the winner also received a unique white gold model of the 1815 Chronograph, specially crafted by A. Lange und Söhne for the recipient of the Best of Show award.
During the 1930s, Duesenberg cars were not only sought after for their performance and elegance but also enjoyed by a host of Hollywood stars. Celebrities like Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, and James Cagney, as well as the fictional Jay Gatsby in the remake of “The Great Gatsby,” all had the privilege of driving a Duesenberg. The company’s founders, Fred and August Duesenberg, originally hailed from Westphalia, Germany, and their success in motorsports quickly catapulted their name into the spotlight. The Duesenberg brand became synonymous with top-tier quality, and the extravagant SJ model introduced in 1932 further solidified their place in automotive history. With its supercharger producing up to 320 hp, the SJ could propel this magnificent vehicle to speeds of around 220 km/h (140 mph). The phrase “it’s a Duesy” became a testament to the exceptional quality of these cars.
In addition to the overall winner, the Public Referendum cast their votes, and the esteemed Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California from 1961, featuring elegant coachwork by Pininfarina/Scaglietti, emerged as the winner of the Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este. This beautiful piece of automotive history belongs to Jonathan Hui of the Keybridge Collection in Hong Kong.
The event also witnessed the presentation of the inaugural Trofeo Il Canto del Motore (The Symphony of Engines Award) for the most melodious engine sound. Jonas Kaufmann, one of the world’s greatest tenors, had the honor of presenting this prestigious prize to Christophe Count d’Ansembourg from Belgium, recognizing the captivating symphony produced by his 1970 Porsche 917 K.
The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was not only a feast for automotive enthusiasts but also a delightful celebration for the general public. The event offered a diverse range of attractions, from breathtaking dance performances by Yoann Bourgeois to an exhibition commemorating the 100th anniversary of Le Mans with legendary racing cars spanning a century. The festivities culminated in a magnificent parade featuring all the award classes of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023.
As the event came to a close, the organizers already began looking ahead to the future, eagerly anticipating the next edition of the prestigious beauty contest for classic cars, set to take place from May 17th to 19th, 2024, once again gracing the picturesque shores of Lake Como.
Until then, let’s cherish the memories of this year’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where the Duesenberg SJ conquered the hearts of all with its timeless beauty and undeniable charm, leaving us eagerly awaiting the automotive marvels that await us in the years to come.