IT'S A DUESY
Written by Andre James
A gathering dedicated purely to elegance and design amidst the grounds of the storied Villa d'Este in Lake Como, Italy, the Concourso d'Eleganza was held for the first time in 1929. Awarded by a Jury, Best of Show went to a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster styled in the coachwork design by Gurney Nuttin and owned by William Lyon of the United States. In addition to the trophy, the victor received an 1815 Chronograph crafted by A. Lange & Söhne with a hand-engraved Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este crest on the hinged cuvette. Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, James Cagney, and many other stars of the silver screen drove a Duesenberg during the 1930s. In 1880, the company's founders, Fred and August Düsenberg, emigrated from Westphalia, Germany, to the USA. Speedy successes in motorsport and a small series of exclusive models quickly made them a household name. The marque's crowning glory came in 1932 with the extravagant SJ model. As much as 320 hp was available when the supercharger kicked in, propelling the colossal car to around 140 mph. Speaking to the quality of its vehicles, the turn of phrase "it's a Duesy" arose in the popular lexicon as a general indication of luxury.
Beyond the top prize, the participants and competing vehicles at the Concorso battled it out for victory in individual categories. The Coppa d'Oro prize awarded by Public Referendum went to a 1961 Ferrari 250 Syder California with coachwork by Pininfarina/ Scagliette and owned by Jonathan Hu, Keybridge Collection of Hong Kong. Helmut Käs, Head of BMW Group Classic and President of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, presented the Trofeo del Presidente to Rob Walton of the United States, owner of a 1968 Ford GT 40. BMW Group Classic brand ambassador and star tenor Jonas Kaufmann presented the Trofeo Il Canto del Motore for best engine sound, as chosen by the Jury to a 1970 Porsche 917 K to Christophe Count d'Ansembourg of Belgium. Pagani's Huayra Codalunga, boasting Bronzo Aymara livery with an exposed carbon fiber finish, exclusive vintage leather and upholstery, and fine Loro Piana fabric, won the Design Award in the "Concept Cars & Prototypes" category, an award created in 2022, besting stiff competition that included Bugatti's W16 Mistral. "The Huayra Codalunga is a tribute to Italian coachbuilders and race cars from the 1960s, cars that I love so much and that take me back to when I was a child," commented Horacio Pagani, Founder & Chief Designer. "We are happy to have won this award the first time we have participated in the most exclusive and historical classic car event in the world, in a category that represents the link between the automobile's glorious past and its exciting future." sl
The 2024 event is scheduled for May 17-19.