Duesenberg SJ and Lamborghini Miura Share Top Honors at 2023 Concours, Wynn Las Vegas

The allure was undeniable. Amidst the display at the 2023 Concours held at Wynn Las Vegas, the 1925 Roll-Royce Phantom I Aerodynamic Coupe stood out with its captivating curves, elongated form, and striking design elements. This impressive vehicle crafted by Belgian coachbuilder Jonckheere, resembling a sculpture carved from obsidian, was an arresting sight. However, despite its undeniable charm, the Art Deco masterpiece did not claim the title of Best of Show. Instead, that honor was bestowed upon a 1935 Duesenberg SJ (featured in the opening image) and a 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, recognized as exceptional examples from the prewar and postwar categories among the 280 cars showcased.

Debuting last year on the fairways of the Wynn Golf Club, the concours introduced “the Four Pillars” for its second edition: Hypercars, Electric/Alternative Fuel, Concept and Culture, and Concours d’Elegance. While select dealerships and manufacturers like Pagani of Beverly Hills, O’Gara, McLaren, and Bugatti exhibited automotive marvels under the former categories, the Concours competition took center stage. Evaluated across 13 classes through a unique blend of peer review by other owners and assessment by traditional independent judges, this event aimed to refine the experience, catering not only to avid car enthusiasts but also to a broader audience.

Steve Weitman, president of Wynn and Encore, explained, “We received feedback last year suggesting there were too many judging categories. So, we aimed to streamline, encourage self-assessment, and make it an experience that appeals beyond devoted car aficionados.” When asked to pick a favorite from the lineup, Weitman likened it to choosing a beloved child. “I couldn’t select just one, but they’re all incredible… the quality of cars this year surpasses last year’s standard significantly,” he remarked.

While Weitman refrained from singling out a favorite, Robb Report’s small team had its say, bestowing the Robb Report Dream Machine Award upon the aforementioned 1925 “Round Door” Rolls, presented by editor-in-chief Paul Croughton. Other noteworthy contenders included a 1936 Mercedes Type 500 Special Roadster from the Petersen Collection, a 1939 Delahaye 165 from the Mullin Museum, a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competition owned by Judson Dayton, a 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL owned by Phillip Sarofim, and Gary Buxton’s 1963 Jaguar E-Type FHC Series I.

Ownership approaches also varied. Gary Buxton, speaking about his Jaguar E-Type recently restored over two years, explained, “When I bought it, the criteria were absolute immaculateness and originality, right down to the nuts and bolts.” Consequently, he has only driven it for a mere two miles. On the other hand, Judson Dayton regularly takes out his matching-numbers Ferrari 250 GT, sharing, “I drive it extensively, three days a week.” His son Davis chimed in, reminiscing about driving the car at 85 mph when he was just 11 years old, with his father proudly displaying the picture as evidence.

The prewar Best of Show, a 1935 Duesenberg SJ owned by Harry Yeaggy, received ample photographic attention. Noteworthy for its 24-hour speed record in the year of its construction, averaging 135.58 mph, this vehicle also claimed victory at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Chris Charlton, owner of Classic Car Services, who restored the vehicle in 2006, shared the car’s history, stating, “The car was built and shown just the way you see it by August Duesenberg… they raced it at the Salt Flats after removing the windshield, one of the head fairings, and the fenders. In 1934, [owner] Abe Jenkins lost the record, so this car was built to reclaim it.”

Another recipient of accolades was Jeffrey Meier’s 1969 Lamborghini Miura S, named the postwar Best of Show. Launched in 1966, the Miura was hailed by Lamborghini as the “fastest production car in the world” at the time, capable of reaching 62 mph from a standstill in 6.7 seconds and boasting a top speed of nearly 174 mph. The car’s original shade of Arancio Miura (a refined orange) further complemented Carrozzeria Bertone’s already stunning design.

Meier shared his experience, “I purchased it from the original owner’s estate… it still retains its original paint, upholstery, and when I acquired it, it even had the original tires.” Describing the driving experience, he added, “There’s no radio; you’ve got that V-12 engine right behind you… the engine block and transmission are a single casting, so you hear all these mechanical noises in the background, along with the exhaust. When you rev it, it’s simply incredible music.”

Both winning cars participated in the Wynn’s Tour d’Elegance on Sunday morning, parading alongside 50 show cars down the Las Vegas Strip. While the grandstands were mostly empty during this event, they are expected to fill up as the iconic thoroughfare transforms into the main straightaway for the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The concours weekend merely marked the beginning of the Wynn’s Ultimate Race Week, culminating in Formula 1’s penultimate race of the season from November 16 to 18. Concurrently, Robb Report’s House of Robb villa at the Wynn will host exclusive wine and spirits tastings, daily panel discussions on luxury trends, and provide access to a state-of-the-art Formula 1 racing simulator.

The Wynn devised the Ultimate Race Week to celebrate Formula 1’s return to Las Vegas after more than four decades. However, it appears this amalgamation might be a one-time event. Weitman stated, “We thought merging the concours and F1 would attract a broader audience. However, we plan to separate them next year.” The 2024 concours is scheduled for November 1 through 3, while the race for the following season will take place from November 21 through 23.

Irrespective of future packaging, the resort has seemingly set a new benchmark for car shows. Collector Phillip Sarofim praised the Wynn, stating, “They’re setting an incredible standard for concours events, and they’re just getting started. They excel in every aspect, making people feel welcome… it’s fun, engaging, and simply thrilling.”