A 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster sporting a body by Gurney Nutting was voted Best of Show at the 2023 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este held this past weekend on the shores of Italy's Lake Como.
Known among collectors as the Maharaja’s Duesy, the car is the final of 36 SJs built by coachbuilder Gurney Nutting, and was originally commissioned by India's Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Holkar of Indore, who was 28 years old at the time.
According to his son, Richard Holkar, the Maharaja embraced modernism, and this extended to a collection of cars that included Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, a Delage, a Bugatti, and this Duesenberg.
Being an SJ, his Duesenberg features a supercharged version of the company's 420-cubic-inch straight-8, good for about 320 hp. Paired to a 3-speed manual transmission, the engine is able to power the car to 104 mph in second gear. The top speed is estimated at around 136 mph. The car is also unique thanks to having a wicker steering wheel.
1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster - Photo credit: Mate Boer Photography/Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
The car has traded hands a number of times over the years. According to the organizers of the Concorso, it returned to the U.S. in 1959 after it was bought by a resident of California. It ended up with its current owner in the late 1980s.
In addition to winning a trophy, the organizers of the Concorso also presented the owner with a unique A. Lange und Söhne 1815 Chronograph watch finished in white gold.
While it's difficult to determine a value for the car, Duesenbergs today typically attract multi-million dollar bids at auction.