1932 Duesenberg wins Pebble Beach Concours Best of Show, first for the marque in 15 years
A single streak of blue sky lay in the cool fog above the Pebble Beach Golf Links on August 21 as the 71st Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winner was showered in honor before an enthusiastic crowd.
The 1932 Duesenberg J Figoni Sports Torpedo captured Best in Show among 28 classes and 7 other “Dueseys” to enter this prestigious Sunday competition. Resplendent in two-tone, light blue and black paint, following a three-year restoration performed by RM in Ontario, the “French speedster” was driven triumphantly onto the ramp by owners Lee and Penny Anderson.
“You’re always surprised by the win,” said Lee. “Anything can happen. You may think you have the best car, and 99 percent of the people may tell you you have the best car—and you don’t win. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Though this concours is known for its stellar showing of prewar metal—such as last year’s winner, the only surviving 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier—2022’s winner bested entries as diverse as 1932 Ford hot rods and endurance race cars that competed at Le Mans. It is the seventh Duesenberg to capture Best of Show—not since 2007 have the Lodge’s confetti guns shot off for this marque.
The Model J competed in period both in motorsport—at the 1932 Paris-Nice Rallye—and at a concours in Cannes, under the supervision of its original owner, Peruvian sugar heir and Duesenberg devotee Antonio Chopitea.
Rebodied in the 1960s on the whim of its then-owner, this 1932 Duesenberg existed for years in two places—the chassis and motor underneath a new body, and the original Figoni coachwork on a different Model J. Not until three years ago, when Rob Myers, CEO of RM Sotheby’s, helped connect the Andersons with the owners of both those Duesenbergs, did the process of reuniting the chassis with the body begin. More searching was involved along the way; Lee Anderson tracked down the original crankshaft in the engine of a Duesenberg in Vancouver. Happily, that car’s owner agreed to contribute the crank and, years later, the Sports Torpedo became a champion.
Standing in front of their Duesenberg, each of the Andersons wore wide smiles, Penny’s gleaming from underneath a buff pink wide-brimmed hat as she held a yellow ribbon the size of a dinner plate.
“It’s the best thing that can happen in a lifetime,” said Lee. “The realization hasn’t even started to set in.”
An hour or two before the colorful ensembles, champagne glasses, and picnic blankets converged on the lawn before the Pebble Beach Lodge, the top three finalists in each class rumbled their way onto the award ranks. (The Alternate Propulsion class made a few other noises as well, headlined by the whizz of the turbines from a 1963 Chrysler Turbine Ghia Coupe owned by Mary and Ted Stahl.) Other cars, particularly the minimally muffled racers of the Le Mans class, briefly drowned out the live jazz floating above the scene. Whiffs of exhaust and cigar smoke flitted among attendees young and old; such is the magnetism of the Concours within this corner of the collector community that many have made the Monterey pilgrimage for decades on end.
Rivalry among the candidates was particularly intense for 2022. Mariah Bruins, who judged the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 class this year, credits the competitive atmosphere to an unusual volume of entries, particularly in the Lincoln and Ferrari classes. Typically, judges prefer class sizes around 7 to 8 cars, the size of 2022’s Duesenberg group.
With the quality of car that is required to even be present on the links here, the strength of the competition is a given: “It’s not like people don’t know where the best cars were,” says Anderson. Even in victory, though, he remains humble.
“The worst thing you can do here is to be overconfident. We just feel like we were lucky.”
So what happens to the other chassis and motor that, for so many years, lived beneath Figoni’s timeless coachwork?
Anderson is certain: “I’ll never put a body on it, so that people don’t get confused.
“There aren’t two French speedsters. There is only one.”
Check out the Hagerty Media homepage so you don’t miss a single story, or better yet, bookmark us.