This magnificent Duesenberg SJ was named the most impressive car at the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza

May. 23rd, 2023, 05:48 PM GMT
Ilie Toma
Earlier today, we published an article announcing the grand winner of the Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza, a gorgeous Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder . That car took the most coveted title, Copoa d'Oro, offered following the votes of the guests, that prize being accompanied by the largest metal cup and being considered the main prize of the contest. But there is also a prize offered by the jury, which is less loud, but is just as prestigious, since it is offered after the jury comes and inspects each car on display, analyzing it thoroughly in terms of quality and appearance and issuing a verdict from the most knowledgeable people there, maybe. And at the 2023 edition of the Concorso d'Eleganza, winner of this trophy, officially named "Trofeo BMW Group: Best of Show by Jury", became this magnificent Duesenberg SJ.
The car was manufactured in 1935, so 88 years ago, and it belongs to the American William Lyon. The model has such formidable engineering, however, that it is hard to realize that such performances were already possible in 1935 in the automotive world!
It's a Duesenberg SJ Speedster, with a body made by Gurney Nutting, at a time when a car's chassis and engine were often ordered from the parent company, and the body from a body shop.
The name SJ actually means the Supercharged version of the model from the J family, and that means that under the hood of this car is a supercharged engine with a mechanical compressor. The engine has a cylinder capacity of 6.9 liters, and with the help of the compressor it already produced a power of 320 HP in 1935! Three hundred and twenty horse-power, 88 years ago, that was coming out of an 8-cylinder in-line engine!
The huge engine was connected to a 3-speed gearbox, and if in 2nd gear it already reached 167 km/h, then in 3rd gear it already reached its maximum speed of 220-225 km/h! And this happened when few cars managed to reach at least 160 km/h. It is therefore no wonder that at the time of its launch in 1932 and throughout the 1930s, this Duesenberg model was the fastest car in the world!
And, in a period of the great depression, this car was particularly admired, becoming the symbol of supreme quality in the automotive world, but also of opulent performance, that's why it was the choice of the wealthiest and it also featured in movies like The Great Gatbsy . The number of cars manufactured with this extraordinary supercharged engine was not very high, however, amounting to only 36 built in all history!
Therefore, the very presence of a Duesenberg SJ at the Concorso d'Eleganza is an exception and a historic event. This example has long been coveted by organizers, but its previous owner, General William Lyon, also a World War II veteran pilot and owner of a collection of more than 100 automobiles, had not been too keen to transport his prized gem to the American soul overseas, especially since he often said that this Duesenberg SJ was the pearl of his collection and a model he had dreamed of in his childhood, from the 30s. In 2020, however, the general passed away, and now his family takes inherited the collection, therefore the new owner is his successor of the same name, by William Lyon. And the family has now agreed to put this treasure on display for the world to admire at the Concorso d'Eleganza.
It couldn't be any other way, then, than for this Duesenberg SJ to leave with the jury's grand prize. He fully deserves it, and besides everything, it is also a gesture of honor for the general who once found, restored and kept this car for so many years!
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