Remembering Judge Joseph Cassini III, 1950–2024

Joseph Cassini III, his daughter Caroline, and wife, Margie, celebrate their Best of Show award at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, in the 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. Kimball Studios / Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

Judge Joseph Cassini III, a fixture of the collector car hobby, who was always happy to share with those around him his enthusiasm for the cars he loved, has died. He was 73 years old.

Cassini was enthusiastic, too, for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. He was a three-time graduate of the university, earning his BA in 1972, before receiving an MBA and Juris Doctorate in 1976. In 2012, he and his wife, Margie, established an endowment to support loan repayment assistance for graduates of the Notre Dame Law School.

He had a life-long passion for cars and purchased his first classic, a 1956 Ford Thunderbird he saw while on a road trip across the country, shortly after earning his JD. That was the spark, and for the next several years he collected cars of the 1950s and ’60s.

In the early 1990s, he attended his first Classic Car Club of America event and was introduced to prewar cars from Auburn, Cord, Packard, and Stutz. He was hooked. Soon, he shifted his energies into collecting and preserving such grand old machines.

Judge Cassini served on the bench in New Jersey for 33 years, including 20 years in the state’s Superior Court. He presided over many noteworthy cases, but he always viewed cars as an escape from the rigors of the job.

The time and effort he put into collecting and restoring classic cars were reflected in his near-constant participation at concours around the country, including the Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance, the former Meadow Brook Concours, and The Amelia, where he was a 16-time entrant. He also founded the Edison Concours d’Elegance, held at the home of Thomas A. Edison in West Orange, New Jersey.

Joseph Cassini car collector celebrates 2013 pebble beach concour win
Joe Cassini (C) celebrates after his 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria won Best Of Show during the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Joe and Caroline Cassini-1933 Auburn Twelve Custom Speedster
Joe and 8-year-old Caroline Cassini with a 1933 Auburn Twelve Custom Speedster. Courtesy Caroline Cassini

His best—and most frequent—showings, however, came at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where he was a 24-time participant. But for 2011 and the canceled 2020 show, he brought a car to the Monterey Peninsula every year from 1997 through 2022.

He and his cars won there, too, including 11 First in Class awards and two Best of Show honors: in 2004 with a 1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet and in 2013 with his 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. Two other times his cars were Best of Show nominees.

“Judge Joe helped bring class and a high standard to concours as a participant and ambassador of the car hobby,” said Matt Orendac, concours event director for Hagerty and a longtime friend of Cassini. “His passion was for great cars, his family, and Notre Dame football. His enthusiasm was infectious, and the Edison Concours he created years ago, which I had the honor to work with him on, was an absolute joy. He will be missed by many and celebrated for his great cars, the wonderful person he was, and the incredible mark he left on the hobby.”

Joseph Cassini is survived by his wife, Margie, their daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Jakob Greisen.

Joe Cassini in 1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Roadster by Fleetwood
Cassini at the wheel of a 1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Roadster by Fleetwood. Ned J. Lawler SHAMROCK MOTORING IMAGES




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    I was unfamiliar with Judge Cassini prior to noticing this article. It seems he made the most of his time here.

    We will miss him so much! Joe will always be remembered as the consummate gentlemen, smart, kind and willing to share his time. Margie and Caroline you are my thoughts and prayers.

    I will alway”s remember Joe as the Kindest Gentlemen & warm Smile , Enjoyed Detailing his Gem”s with him Helping at his Barn sharing Great Stories. Leaving me ice tea, saying just going to Plant some Pine Tree”s let me know if you need anything. Love this Man, God Bless You & your Family…..

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