- It’s a Duesey! 1929 Duesenburg and 1973 Porsche 917/30 Win Big at 2020 Amelia Island Concours
It’s a Duesey! 1929 Duesenburg and 1973 Porsche 917/30 Win Big at 2020 Amelia Island Concours
With two show categories, both pre-war and post-war fans are happy
The 25th Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is in the books, and from it emerged two big winners: a 1929 Duesenberg J-218 Town Limousine and a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am series race car. The two cars both won Best in Show, with the pre-war Duesenberg taking top honors in the Concours d'Elegance category and the Porsche winning the Concours d'Sport division.
Duesenbergs were among the most expensive cars of their time and were built in Minnesota starting in 1913, with a move to Indiana in 1919 following the first World War. Duesenberg began as primarily a builder of race cars, branching into road cars after WWI. The cars were fairly advanced for their day, utilizing overhead cams, multi-valve cylinder heads, and hydraulic brakes. In the 1920s, the marque won the Indy 500 four times, and Le Mans once. By 1925, the founding Duesenberg brothers sold their fledgling automaker to automotive industry giant E.L. Cord, who shifted the Duesenberg brand focus to high-performance luxury cars and attracted a number of wealthy clients as a result.
One of those clients was Captain George Whittell Jr., an heir to a large California gold rush-era fortune, who had quite a year in 1929. San Francisco, CA-based Whittell Jr. sold his reported $50 million in stock holdings just two weeks before the massive market crash that year and commissioned Murphy Coachbuilders to build him several custom-bodied Duesenbergs, including this J-218 Town Limousine. The bodywork was crafted largely from lightweight aluminum and had a polished beltline that separated the black lower body from the white roof. Doors that curve into the roof, a raked windshield, special hood vents, and plenty of chrome trim complete the custom coachwork.
The 1973 Porsche 917/30 that won Best in Show for Concours d'Sport couldn't be much more different from the Duesey, apart from the fact that it also wears aluminum bodywork. This late evolution of Porsche's Le Mans-winning 917 race car was engineered for America's Can-Am series where big horsepower and few engineering restrictions were the name of the game. This particular car is probably the most famous of its type, its 1,500 hp bringing racing and engineering prodigy Mark Donahue six wins in eight races during the 1973 Can-Am Championship, enough to clinch the series win that year with team owner Roger Penske, who was also honored at Amelia Island this year. The car was so fast that it set a record of 221.16 mph at the famous Talladega Superspeedway in 1975, which still stands today.
Incidentally, we're big fans of the way the Amelia Island Concours is broken down into two Best in Show categories, which generally allows for a more traditional pre-war pick for Concours d'Elegance and a more contemporary choice for the Concours d'Sport winner. It's a sign of the changing enthusiast demographic and the fact that most car fans are more interested in cars they grew up with or admired in their younger days. Younger enthusiasts tend to bring younger classics to events, and it's nice to see a broader selection of cars honored with Best in Show wins.