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PHOENIX, 12 January, 2013

More than 40 years ago Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson held their first collectors car auction in Scottsdale, over the following years the auction week in January became a fixed date in the auction calendar and today no less than five auction houses start their season in Arizona.

Unlike other auction locations that are associated with concours or race events (like Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Le Mans or Goodwood) the Scottsdale week never attracted other events to join and although most of the collectors are on site no one organized the concours everybody seemed to be waiting for.

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Finally in 2013 a small group of enthusiasts decided to plunge into the deep end and set up the inaugural concours of Arizona in 2014. Although mostly inexperienced with this sort of event (according to their own words) the ambitious project was realised within just a few months and about 75 superb cars found their way to The Arizona Biltmore (that also serves as location for the following RM auction) to kick of the auction week. The selected hotel with its historical gardens was an ideal selection for this size of concours as it had enough space to host this amount of cars but is not too big to look unfamiliar. Early in the morning the entrants were briefed in the parking garage and guided by the volunteers to their spot on the various lawns. Just before the sun was out the cars made their way through the rambling facility on smaller trails past the side buildings. Finally all the cars were set up to be judged by the jury in 14 different classes.

On the main lawn just behind the main building both American and European classes for open and closed classics were displayed under the palm trees as well as the special class for the centenary of Maserati. Every year the international concours circuit honours one of the famous marques in their milestone birthday and after Aston Martin in 2013 this year will feature the Italian marque presumable on every major event around the world. Fortunately the Arizona Concours could claim to be the first due to its early date as these special classes tend to become a little bit battered by the end of the season as it becomes more and more difficult to attract new cars at the end of the year to keep them being interesting. But for a first time event especially this class was very impressive ranging from the pre-war grand prix racing with the 1937 Maserati 6CM voiturette to the sports cars of the 1950s, maybe the heyday of the marque when Maserati competed with Ferrari both on the road and track racing. Whereas the famous competitor from Maranello is known for its 12 cylinder engines the Maserati where mainly powered by straight six with a capacity ranging from 1.5 litre in the type 150S to 4.5 litre in the later 450S. Following the A6 GCS Spyder Maserati developed a new race car (the 150 S) as well as some road going sports cars, the A6 G2000 that was available with some of the most beautiful coachwork in this era, be it the Zagato coupé or the displayed Frua Spyder. The car on show (chassis 2109) was the open version by Carrozzeria Frua and was presented in very stylish black over red interior with a white central stripe. Although this might have been the most elegant car in the class it just came third behind the class winning 6CM and the 150 S from the same stable. But Maserati did not just compete in the small displacement classes but had with the 300S a contender for the overall victories, the car on display (chassis 3068) today is actively campaigned in historic racing just as the Tipo 60 Birdcage next to it. At the end of the 1950s Maserati built the most advanced design of a light tubular frame nicknamed Birdcage to run the 2 Litre class. The Maserati class was rounded off by a duo of 3500 GT, both in Spider and Coupé form designed by Vignale respectively Touring.

Further single marque classes included Rolls-Royce/Bentley and post-war Mercedes-Benz, the former won by a 1936 Rolls-Royce Sedanca de Ville, the later by a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster.

Four classes were dedicated to sports and race cars ranging from the pre-war class including the oldest surviving Alfa Romeo G1, a small Fiat 508S Mille Miglia and the class winning Jaguar SS100 to the group of “Exotics”, the class for Supercars. What is today a common description for the latest high performance sports cars was new in the late 1960s with the Lamborghini Miura that was names the first Supercar. Especially the name Lamborghini is linked to this term as the Countach followed the Miura to take Lamborghini in the next decade. Maybe less exotic but for many the ultimate design of its era is the small Ferrari 246 GT Dino by Pininfarina that won its class. But sportive cars were not just built in Italy as was the Toyota 2000 GT, the first real sports car made in Japan, today these exotics were highly sought after and achieve high prices at the auctions.

A common practice was also to transform a race car for road use, the Ford GT40 for example was built to win Le Mans but later some cars were used on the street, the MKIV on show indeed was a pure race car.

This sort of transformation also leads to the class of sports cars as the Jaguar XKSS was also originally a Le Mans winning design (the D-Type) that was later equipped with bumpers, windshield, and luggage mounting in the back to sell of the remaining examples of the D-Type. Unlike the class winning Ferrari 250 GT Lusso with its steel body the XKSS was closer to the race car class including its predecessor, the C-Type, a Lister Jaguar, an Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM in Swedish racing colours as when raced by Joakim Bonnier and the very rare Aston Martin DB2/4 Bertone Spyder that won the centenary class in Pebble Beach last year. The Aston was also a good example that the jury of different concours are looking for completely different details as the Aston just came third in class behind the winning 1951 Schroeder/Stevens Indy Special with a local race history from Phoenix.

Always contenders for the Best of Show trophy are the cars of the European coach built class pre-war. In a very strong class including two Delahaye 135 with coachwork by deVillars and Figoni&Falaschi, an Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A SS by LeBaron and a Bugatti T57C Galibier finally the Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet de Ville by Kellner succeeded.

After the class award ceremony at the main field behind the lodge the jury had to make their final decision for the BoS award, in the meantime host Keith Martin from Sports Car Market collected for the partnering Make-a-Wish foundation whose attending kids just voted the Bugatti T57 C Galibier their favourite. With fund raising of more than 24.000 $ the first Arizona Concours was also a success in charity.

At the end of a long day the Hispano-Suiza was voted BoS and will be the figurehead for the forthcoming concours as this is intended to become an annual event.

With more than 2000 visitors on the inaugural show the concours was a good success and when comparing with other events of this kind one did not had the impression that this was done by inexperienced enthusiasts, few things can be really improved next year, maybe a few more cars from outside might find their way to the Valley of Sun in Scottsdale to join the local collectors for the second edition that will be held again upfront the following auctions in 2015.

Images Peter Singhof ... www.ClassicCarPhotography.de

Class winners
1907 Panhard et Lavassor T-3 (John Konwiser, Scottsdale, AZ)

Full classic American Open
1934 Buick convertible coupe (Lee Gurvey, Scottsdale, AZ)

Full classic American Closed
1934 Packard 1104 2/4 coupe (Sharon Briskman, Scottsdale, AZ)

Full Classic European
1925 Hispano-Suiza H6B Cabriolet de Ville (Donald Nichols, Lompoc, Calif)

Pre-war Rolls-Royce and Bentley
1936 Rolls-Royce Sedanca de Ville (Jeffrey McKee, Phoenix)

100th Anniversary Maserati
1937 Maserati 6 CM Grand Prix racer (Bill and Linda Pope, Paradise Valley, AZ),

Pre-war European Sports and Racing
1938 Jaguar SS 100 3.5-liter (Philippe Reyns, Chandler, AZ)

Avant garde
1938 Steyr 220 roadster (Peter Boyle, Oil City, PA),

Post-war Racing
1951 Schroeder/Stevens Indianapolis racer (Gary Schroeder, Burbank, CA)

Iconic post-war American
1952 Hudson Hornet (Jon Andersen, Murray, UT),

Post-war Mercedes-Benz
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster (Grant and Judy Beck, Scottsdale, AZ),

Post-war European Sports Cars
1964 Ferrari Lusso (Tony Shooshani, Beverly Hills, CA),

1971 Ferrari 246 GT Dino (Pietro DiLeonardo, Glendale, AZ),

Post-war Preservation
1967 Ferrari 330 GTC (Todd Reeg, Scottsdale, AZ).

Special awards
Most Elegant Pre-War
1938 Steyr 220 roadster (Peter Boyle, Oil City, PA)

Most Elegant Post-War
1955 Maserati A6G Frua Spyder (Thomas Mittler Estate, Mishawaka, IN)

Honorary Judges Award
1930 Packard 745 convertible Victoria (Steve Snyder, Orange, CA) and
1928 Bentley 4.5-liter Le Mans (Bennett Dorrance, Scottsdale, AZ)

Director’s Choice
1907 Renault A1 35-45 (Alan Travis, Phoenix)

Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin West Distinguished Design
1936 Delahaye 135 competition Cabriolet (Ken and Ann Smith, La Jolla, CA)

Historic Vehicle Association
1924 Hispano-Suiza dual cowl sport phaeton (William Ingler, Scottsdale, AZ)

Preparations are under way for the second annual Arizona Concours d’Elegance in January 2015. For more information, see www.arizonaconcours.com .

Report & Images ... Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de