For one glorious week in January, thousands of car enthusiasts and aficionados make a pilgrimage to the Arizona desert to take part in a ritual that has come to be known as “Arizona Car Week.” In the 3rd week of January, thousands of collector cars and millions of dollars change hands at a half-dozen different auctions including Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co., Bonham’s, and Silver Auctions. While I love the excitement of the auction circuit, one of my favorite events of Arizona Car Week is not an auction at all. It’s the Arizona Concours d’Elegance, which has become sort of a kickoff event to Car Week.
As in the past, the event was held at the lush grounds of the historic Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Opened in 1929, the resort is famous for its textile block architecture, which bears the distinct influence of the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Biltmore has hosted every U.S. President from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush, and was the site where Irving Berlin penned the famous song “White Christmas.” It is the perfect setting for a regal event such as the Arizona Concours.Although it is part of Arizona Car Week, the Concours d’Elegance is not an auction, and none of the cars are for sale. These are classic, mostly pre-war vehicles which are entered into the show by their owners in the hopes of winning a trophy or award. A panel of judges chooses the winners, while a much younger group of judges from the Make A Wish Foundation also chooses their favorite cars of the show. For both the charitable causes and the cars, the Arizona Concours d’Elegance is one of my favorite automotive events of the year.One of the special classes this year was “Lincolns of the Classic Era” which featured several stunning examples Lincolns of the 1920s and 1930s. Shown above is a 1937 Lincoln Model K Cabriolet, which came standard with a V12 engine.This 1937 Lincoln Model K 361 is a full length roof limousine, featuring coachwork by Herman Brunn. I liked the hood ornament.In the American Classic Open car segment, I liked the emblem of this 1930 Cadillac Model 452 Roadster. It was the first production car in the United States to come with a V16 engine, and it is one of only 10 roadsters left today.This 1960 Corvette won Best In Class for the “Post-War American Powered Sports Cars” class. It has undergone a full frame-off restoration to factory specifications.
This 1966 Shelby 350GTH was one of the original Hertz “Rent-a-Racers” as part of a special collaboration between Hertz Rental Cars and Shelby. This car is one of 57 painted in Sapphire Blue and one of 16 cars remaining in that original color with gold stripes. It maintains all of its original equipment including AM radio, power assisted brakes, heater, and side view mirror.This 1964 Cheetah by Bill Thomas Race Cars was raced extensively from 1964 to 1970, and won an A/SR Championship in 1966. Since 1990, the car has been making the rounds in vintage racing events.
Though it was not produced during the Classic Era, this 1956 Lincoln Premiere Convertible was a looker in its own time, and remains a special car today. At a massive 223 inches in length, it remains one of the longest Lincolns ever produced and one of the largest cars ever made. This one looks stunning in its “Taos Turquoise” color, and is one of just 2,477 convertibles produced that year.
Are you digging the interior of this 1965 Pontiac Catalina? Because I am. Of the more than 11,000 Catalinas produced in 1965, fewer than 3,000 were equipped with the 4-speed manual transmission, as this one is.
The owner of this 1950 Ferrari GT PF Cabriolet had a display case of memorabilia next to his car. This Lemania 105 wristwatch with the Ferrari prancing horse on the dial was possibly given out as a gift to friends and family of Ferrari, and is likely worth its weight in gold today!Though it did not win an award, this 1954 Jaguar D-type was a real attention-getter! It was recently featured in a video from Petrolicious, and has an impressive racing pedigree.This 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe features custom bodywork by Vignale, which was another special class at the 2017 Arizona Concours. The car won “Best in Class” in the Coachwork by Carrozzeria Vignale category. It looks unlike any other Ferrari that I’ve ever seen!Detail of the dashboard on the 1937 Lagonda LG45 Rapide Sport Tourer, one of only 25 Rapides produced.This car is a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe, and it is one of only two in the world. It belongs to the Mullin Auto Museum in Oxnard, CA and its presence at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance was a very big deal. The other car is owned by fashion mogul Ralph Lauren and is worth an estimated $40 million. This car won “Best of Show” at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2003, and captured “Best of Show” at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance in 2017 as well.
The car is notable for its aerodynamic shape and for its unique construction, which features aluminum body panels that are riveted together, creating a seam that runs the length of the car. It was a real stand-out at the show and garnered lots of well-deserved attention!