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Best In Show At Amelia Island

Posted in Automotive Event, Classic, Collector Cars, Event Coverage by Kurt Ernst | March 15th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

The Mormon Meteor, a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster

This year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance honored Duesenberg as their featured marque. Allard and Kurtis were also honored, but it’s virtually impossible to win “best of show” awards when you’re competing against Duesenberg. When you invite Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winning cars to the party, it should be no surprise when they take the ribbons in Florida as well. Such was the case in this year’s show, where a 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster, nicknamed the “Mormon Meteor” took top honors in the Concours De Sport class, with a 1933 Duesenberg SJN Arlington Torpedo Sedan taking top honors in the Concours De Elegance class.

The Mormon Meteor SJ Speedster has a long and storied history. It was driven by Ab Jenkins to a 24 hour speed record of 135 miles per hour in 1935; in 1940, while mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, Jenkins set a new record of 161.180 mph over 24 hours. This record stood for some 50 years before being broken by a Corvette ZR1 in 1990. The SJ Speedster changed hands a few times over the years, but was owned by the Kershaw family from 1959 until 2004. In 2004, the car sold for a then-record auction price of $4.5 million to the current owner, Harry Yeaggy. It underwent a complete restoration to 1935 specs before taking top honors at Pebble Beach in 2007.

The 1933 Duesenberg SJN Arlington Torpedo Sedan wears a California license plate reading “20 Grand”, since that was the original selling price of the car back in 1933. Part of the Nethercutt Collection, the car was restored in 1979 and took top honors at Pebble Beach in 1980. It was originally built for display at the Chicago World’s Fair Century of Progress Exhibition, as the car’s supercharged engine, Rallston chassis and body design by Gordon Miller Buehring represented the pinnacle of automotive design.

As nice as the Duesenbergs were, I wouldn’t pick them for my own personal best in show. Look for that later this week.

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