A 1929 Duesenberg J-218 Town Limousine and a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder were accorded Best of Show honors March 8 as the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The concours honors two Best of Show winners, one among traditional concours cars and the other for “concours de sport.”
The Duesenberg, owned by the Lehrman Collection of Palm Beach, Florida, was built for George Whittell Jr., a California gold rush heir who famously and fortunately liquidated his stock portfolio — valued at approximately $50 million — just two days before the crash of 1929.
Known as a playboy and street racer, Whittell Jr. collaborated with Murphy on a fleet of coachbuilt custom Duesenbergs.
“This distinctive Murphy-bodied Town Limousine sports an aluminum roofline that allows the doors to be curved upward into the roof,” concours officials pointed out in their announcement. “This feature was carried forward into several future designs for Murphy.
“The most distinctive features of the J-218 were the angled windshield, surrounded by ‘clear vision’ window pillars and the classic Art Deco paint scheme. The bare aluminum belt line was polished to a mirror classic Art Deco paint scheme.
“The bare aluminum belt line was polished to a mirror finish to divide the black bottom from the white top. Chrome flashes such as the door hinges, tool and battery doors complete the look. Vent doors in the hood rather than louvers are also a special feature.”
The Porsche is owned by Rob Kauffman of Charlotte, North Carolina. It was driven for Penske Racing by Mark Donohue to victories in 6 of 8 races in 1973 and to the Can-Am series championship. Former car owner Roger Penske was honored by the 2020 concours, which also invited back all of its past honorees.
“After nearly a half century, Porsche’s 917/30 is still the most powerful circuit racing car ever made,” concours officials reported. “While no one knows the car’s ultimate top speed, it easily achieved speeds of over 200 mph at circuits like Watkins Glen and Riverside. It set a closed-course speed record of 221.16 mph at Talladega Superspeedway in 1975.
“Now 50 years later, that remains the fastest lap ever recorded on the steeply banked Alabama superspeedway.
“The 1929 Duesenberg J-218 Town Limousine and 1973 Porsche 917/10 Can-Am Spyder both embody the spirit of our awards,” said Bill Warner, chairman and founder of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
As part of the honoring of Penske’s career, more than 30 former Penske racing cars were displayed on the concours show field.