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The Maharaja’s Duesenberg wins Best of Show at Villa d’Este 2023

The winner of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2023 is the remarkable Duesenberg SJ Speedster designed by Gurney Nutting for the Maharaja Holkar of Indore. The Trofeo BMW Group was awarded by the jury on Sunday evening.

This year, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este celebrated ‘The dazzling motoring indulgences of the mighty Maharajas’ with a special class. The most impressive of the cars once commissioned by Indian royalty was certainly the Duesenberg SJ Speedster designed by Gurney Nutting in 1935 for the 28-year-old Maharaja Holkar of Indore. With its bight orange interior and wicker steering wheel, the Boattail Speedster outclassed the competition, securing its owner William Lyons the highly desirable Trofeo BMW Group, better known as ‘Best of Show’.

Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, James Cagney and many other stars drove a Duesenberg during the 1930s as well as Jay Gatsby in the remake of “The Great Gatsby”. The crowning glory came in 1932 with the extravagant SJ model. As much as 320 hp was available when the supercharger kicked in and this propelled the huge car to around 220 km / h (140 mph). The turn of phrase “it’s a Duesy” was coined as a synonym for the quality of the vehicles. The spectacular Boattail Speedster was the last of 36 Duesenberg SJs built by Gurney Nutting in London. 

The proud owner William Lyons was presented with the prestigious winner’s prize by Helmut Käs, Head of BMW Group Classic und President of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and Wilhelm Schmid, CEO of A. Lange und Söhne. Alongside the dazzling trophy, the winner selected by the Jury also received a unique model of the A. Lange und Söhne 1815 Chronograph in white gold created exclusively for the winner of the Concorso d’Eleganza.

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver