Read everything else we have to say about Monterey Car Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The best prize winner for the 71st Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance was this beautiful, dashing Duesenberg Model J Figoni Sports Torpedo from 1932. Owned by Lee Anderson of Naples, Florida, the car not only represents the outstanding classic design of the highest level that graces the event, but also the specificity and uniqueness that are characteristic.
Held each August on the Monterey Peninsula in northern California, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the world’s premier classic car shows, featuring top-of-the-line vehicles from throughout automotive history. This year’s featured classes include vehicles from Talbot-Lago’s large sports line, Alfa Romeo’s 8C 2300 line, 1932 Ford hot rods, vehicles with unorthodox propulsion systems, and cars celebrating the centenary of Lincoln and Le Mans, among others.
This car was not a member of any of these classes, giving it a bit of an underdog status – although, being a Duesenberg fan since childhood, this author declared this car a winner from the first moment he saw it.
The Model J was the most powerful and exclusive American car of its time, with a racing-derived straight-eight engine that produced such prodigious power that it was a standard deviation above any of its contemporary competitors. Model Js were available from the factory as rolling chassis only. While most were built by top American bodybuilders, this rare and beautiful coupé was the work of famed Parisian coachbuilder Joseph Figoni, who created this outrageous torpedo-tailed roadster.
While the focus has been strongest on heavily restored cars from the so-called classic era between the two world wars, the field has expanded somewhat lately. This year a visitor was lucky enough to visit the 18 . to walke green on the eponymous Pebble Beach golf course could see a variety of vehicles from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, as well as a growing number of cars that fall into the Preservation class – vehicles that are more or less in original, unrestored condition.
These vehicles are here to meet the increased interest of collectors—particularly younger collectors (and younger, in Pebble Beach terms, means anyone under 80)—in post-war era cars and cars that tell their entropic story. their steel and wood and leather, in the form of patina, dents, wear and other apparent levels of ownership.
But this year’s winner demonstrated a further anchoring of the core classic tradition underlying the competition world, with a nod to the adventurous spirit of design that endows this unique vehicle.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen such experimentation fade in recent years, with the rise of the crossover and other anodyne body types, but the full-fledged rise of the EV category has renewed interest in new shapes – witness the Streamline Moderne influence of the new Cadillac Celestiq. Perhaps this award signals the return of the boat-tailed roadster? We would enjoy such a revival.
In the meantime, we encourage you to enjoy the beauty, proportion and perfection of this azure blue Duesey, whose sculptural forms would be as appropriate in a museum as any Rodin or Serra.