1933 Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton
& Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier
win Best of Show at 2011 Concours d’Elegance at St. John’s
10,000 visitors - 331 cars on display
PLYMOUTH, MI, August 1, 2011 – Last weekend, more than 10,000 visitors came to see the Concours d’Elegance of America at the new venue, The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth. After decades at Meadow Brook Hall, the Concours opted to make a move; and what a difference it made! The new space allowed for no less than 331 cars to be displayed on the generous field in almost two dozen classes. The well deserved winners at the first of many Concours of America at St. John’s were John D. Groendyke, who won “Best of Show Domestic” with his fabulous 1933 Duesenberg SJ and well-known collectors Arturo and Deborah Keller with their breathtaking black 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahnkurier, which was awarded the honor “Best of Show Foreign.”
1933 Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton by Brunn
This majestic Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton, SJ528, is one of only three Riviera Phaetons with coachwork by Brunn and one of only two factory supercharged cars. Originally purchased in June of 1934 by Lt. Col. Jacob Schick of razor fame, it boasts an ingenious roof design that was sleek and elegant compared with many contemporary solutions.
The 420 cu.in inline eight-cylinder engine of this car delivered no less than 320hp – in 1933 an almost unbelievable number. Restored in the early 2000s by multiple Best-of-Show-winning restorer Fran Roxas, the complete “nut and bolt” restoration involved every mechanical component either being rebuilt or refurbished as necessary. The award at the Concours of America reflects the effort being put into this car as well as the uniqueness of its design, history and technical specification.
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier
The Mercedes-Benz 500 and 540 K sports cars are no doubt unique and highly collectible vehicles. The perfect example displayed at this year’s Concours of America by Arturo and Deborah Keller, however, is an even more unique style exercise from the aero-dynamic decade of the 1930s. The imposing 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Autobahnkurier, as the name suggests, was intended, for the very select few to cruise at unheard-of speeds on the newly created German Autobahns. Low-slung, with an almost seductive, tapered rear-end, the car is rumored to have inspired Jean Bugatti to create the legendary Atlantic. Powered by a 5.4 liter inline eight-cylinder with a super-charger delivering 180 hp, this aerodynamic pioneer was capable of speeds in excess of 115 mph. This car was built new for Spanish Professor Ignacio Barraquer in 1938 and remained in the Barraquer family for almost 70 years, until Keller acquired it in 2004 and commissioned a full restoration by noted Mercedes experts Paul Russell & Co.
The Concours of America awarded more than two dozen prizes over the weekend. Below is a short selection of some of the highlights in the various classes. The full list is available at Automotive PR. Also, high res images of this year’s winners are also available upon request.
Best Driving Award 1965 Aston Martin DB5/6
Bill Mitchell Award 1957 Buick Roadmaster
Chairman’s Award 1911 Thomas 6-70K Flyer
Most Original – The Way it Was 1929 Duesenberg Model J
Most Elegant Car 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B
Timeless Beauty Award 1933 Auburn V12
Spirit of Modernism 1931 Avions Voisin C20
Concours d'Elegance of America at St. John’s
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