Two one-of-a-kind classics — the only 1932 Duesenberg Model J with a Murphy-built Convertible Victoria body and the only 1939 Bugatti T57C with coachwork by Voll & Ruhrbeck — took best-in-show honors Sunday in the 36th annual Concours d’Elegance of America, which was held for the fourth time at The Inn at St. John’s in suburban Detroit.
The Duesenberg, owned by William and Barbara Parfet of Hickory Corners, Michigan, was judged the best American car at the event while the Bugatti, owned by the Patterson Collection of Louisville, Kentucky, took honors among cars produced overseas.
Murphy was a major coachbuilder in Los Angeles from 1920-1932 while Voll & Ruhrbeck did body design and construction in Berlin and Essen from 1920 until 1945.
It is believed that the Voll & Ruhrbeck Bugatti was given to figure skater Sonja Henie, was hidden in Bavaria during World War II, was found among unclaimed vehicles after the war and years later had its original body removed and replaced with replica Bugatti Atlantic sheet metal. James Patterson obtained the car, found the original Voll & Ruhrbeck body and had it restored and reunited with the car.
This was the Parfets’ first best-in-show at the Concours d’Elegance of America but the Patterson Collection’s since. It also won in 2012 with a 1933 Delage D8S coupe roadster.
The Duesenberg was the seventh of that marque to take best-in-show at the concours but the Bugatti was the only the second of that brand, and the first since Ralph Lauren’s 1937 Type 57SC in 1999, to claim such honor.
That the best-in-show winners both were 1-of-1 vehicles seemed only fitting at the conclusion of an awards presentation in which masters of ceremonies Roger Joynt and Keith Martin repeatedly noted the number of such one-off vehicles gathered at one place.
Other major award winners were:
- Designer’s Choice — 1936 Delage Type 135 Competition Court owned by Roger Willbanks of Denver, Colorado;
- Most Elegant Car: —1933 Cadillac 425C owned by Steve Brauer of St. Louis, Missouri;
- Chairman’s Award — 1929 Duesenberg Model J owned by Tony an Jonna Ficco of Wheat Ridge, Colorado;
- The Art that Moves Us — Derham-bodied 1938 Packard 1608 owned by Tim Dudley of Upperville, Virginia;
- Timeless Beauty — Darrin-bodied 1940 Packard Sport Sedan owned by Mike and Joy Ames of Arlington, Texas;
- Best Driving Award (car the judges would most like to drive home) — 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS owned by Kim and Stephen Bruno, Boca Raton, Florida;
- People’s Choice Award — 1919 Paige 666 Daytona owned by Ed and Judy Shoenthaler of Oak Brook, Illinois;
- Spirit of the Automobilist — 1959 Pontiac Safari El Catalina owned by William “Tom” Gerrard of Big Sky, Montana;
- Spirit of Detroit — 1958 Imperial Crown owned by Roberta Hosken of Largo, Florida;
- Most Original Car — 1959 Cadillac 6267 owned by Bob Waldock of Sandusky, Ohio;
- Debut Award — 19568 Maserati Ghibli owned by Alex Statynski of Bluffington, South Carolina;
- Engineer Excellence — 1948 Tucker owned by the Richard H. Driehaus Collection of Chicago;
- FIVA Award — 1910 Maytag owned by Richard Staadt of Fort Wayne, Indiana.