Duesenberg Model J and Cadillac DPi-V.R win Best in Show honors at Amelia
Surprise, surprise. Both Best in Show winners at Sunday’s 27th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance seemed stunned by their good fortune, which is a surprise in itself considering the quality of their automobiles and the past success of one of the owners.
Harry Yeaggy’s 1934 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe was named Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance, and Wayne Jackson’s 2017 Cadillac DPi-V.R was selected Best in Show, Concours de Sport.
“I’ve won here twice before, but this one was unexpected,” said Yeaggy, of Cincinnati. “There’s always a lot of competition, and Duesenbergs have won the past two years, so it takes a really special car to win.”
Yeaggy’s luxury automobile is certainly that. Powered by a 420-cubic-inch, eight-cylinder engine with twin camshafts and equipped with factory-fitted dual Winfield carburetors, the Model J could top 115 mph. One of the last Duesenbergs produced, and one of only three with coachwork by Walker LaGrande, the Convertible Coupe was originally owned by General Mills founder Marjorie Merriweather Post, the world’s wealthiest woman at the time. Post drove the Duesy until 1962, but only while staying at her Long Island, New York, summer home. The second owner of the car didn’t drive it much either; it has only 9000 miles on the clock.
Yeaggy, the car’s third owner, purchased the Duesenberg 15 years ago, and it was restored to its original specs by Chris Charlton of Classic Car Services in Oxford, Maine. It’s the third Duesenberg that he has restored for Yeaggy.
Although Yeaggy has won Best in Show three times, this was the Cadillac DPi-V.R’s first appearance here. Jackson obviously had no expectations that his black race car might win; he left Amelia early and wasn’t present for the ceremony. However, Vince Schade of Hudson Historics, who prepped the car for the show, reached him by phone.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” said Jackson, of Ellicott City, Maryland. “I couldn’t be happier. This is my first concours, so I didn’t have any idea this would happen.”
The Cadillac, overall winner of the 2018 Petit Le Mans and the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona, wasn’t even supposed to be in Jackson’s ownership yet. He had agreed to purchase the car after it retired from IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series competition, but that was supposed to be after the 2022 season. When Wayne Taylor Racing signed on with Acura, however, Jackson received the Cadillac sooner than expected.
It features a race-prepared, normally aspirated series-limited 600-horsepower Cadillac 5.5-liter V-8 engine.
Hagerty Drivers Foundation winners included a 1904 Knox Tuxedo, owned by the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Tremont, Maine, which captured the National Automotive Heritage Award, and a almost completely original 1930 Packard Deluxe Eight 745, owned by Lynn and Michael Harling, winner of the Preservation Award.
This year’s event at the Ritz-Carlton’s Amelia Island Golf Club was the first under Hagerty’s stewardship. New additions included Saturday’s Cars & Community family-oriented gathering, which featured Radwood, the Concours d’Lemons, and Cars & Caffeine. And Sunday’s concours featured 215 cars, down from previous years, to offer more space and make the awards ceremony shorter.
“This has been an incredible experience,” said Matt Orendac, vice chairman of concours for Hagerty. “The outpouring of acceptance and the excitement from everyone has been overwhelming. We’re happy that the diehard Amelia fans have embraced the changes and have appreciated the importance that we placed on maintaining the DNA of the event. And the beautiful weather didn’t hurt, either.”