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Convicts' Car Almost a Winner

September 08, 1993|Paul Dean

The convicts' lovingly restored 1931 Duesenberg Beverly Sedan came close, but didn't capture the recent Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach.

Best in Show went to a 1930 Mercedes SSK owned by designer Ralph Lauren.

But there was a small victory for inmates when their Duesenberg--owned by the Imperial Palace Auto Collection of Las Vegas, and rebuilt as part of a unique labor program at the Southern Desert Correctional Center (View, July 15, 1993)--was invited to join the event's Parade of Elegance.

"Only 18 cars from the overall field of 140 were selected for the parade, which honors the most elegant closed and convertible classics," said a contest spokesman. "Judging from applause when the Duesenberg went by, the experts had a high regard for the inmates' work."

The men, mostly lifers, have restored 24 old cars as part of a 2-year-old program to rebuild flawed men through overhauling vintage vehicles. They spent four months rebuilding the Duesenberg from bits in baskets, and entering Pebble Beach was a peak of the program.

"We knew going in we would be up against the world's best," said Richie Clyne, creator of the convict program and administrator of the Imperial Palace collection. "So just having their car accepted was victory enough.

"We'll be back next year, and to win."

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