Arizona Concours, Fountain Hills Bookend Scottsdale Auction Week

It’s been a crazy ten years for classic car lovers in Arizona. For those keeping score at home, the Arizona Concours started in 2014 with a splendid showing of Pebble-worthy classics on the lawn of the fabulous Biltmore Hotel. That first year was a solid success.

“I was delighted to see that the Arizona Concours got everything just right: tasty cars, scrumptious setting, quiet and efficient organization, and of course the glorious weather of Arizona in January,” said Arizona Concours emcee Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market, after his stint hosting that first Arizona Concours.

This “long and luscious” 1947 Talbot Lago T26 Record Cabriolet won Best of Show of the 2023 Arizona Concours d’Elegance, held last Sunday at the newly renovated Scottsdale Civic Center.
This “long and luscious” 1947 Talbot Lago T26 Record Cabriolet won Best of Show of the 2023 Arizona Concours d’Elegance, held last Sunday at the newly renovated Scottsdale Civic Center.

Things went on strongly for three more years. Then in 2017, after four highly successful and critically acclaimed Concours, calamity struck. A lack of corporate sponsorship killed the Concours just months after its fourth running in 2017.

“Arizona Concours Canceled Forever,” read our headline after the 2017 event.

But, like Mark Twain, rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated, and the Concours returned this year under new management and at a new venue, the Scottsdale Civic Center.

“I believe it’s a special concours for a number of reasons,” said David Steele, a judge in the pre-war sports car class and director of the American Hot Rod Association. “First would be the fact that the producers of it – Ed and Karen Winkler – are good folks and serious car people. Ed was a hot rodder in the ‘50s and never stopped being a car guy. He has great taste and is a smart dude. He made the most excellent decision to have John Carlson be the head Judge of the event. Carlson is probably the most respected concours judge in North America, he can pull together outstanding judges and teams of judges ( myself excluded!). This then gives the car owners great confidence that their car won’t be picked apart by amateurs and improperly judged. So you then get an outstanding field of super serious cars. It all works together and you can’t have any one of these things without the other.”

The size of the field is also limited to no more than 100 curated cars (90 this year), thus helping assure a quality field. That field parks on the grounds of the newly renovated Scottsdale Civic Center, a perfect location considering the Concours had always served as the semi-official kickoff for Auction Week in Scottsdale, an event that brought the elite of the collector car world to Arizona at the perfect time of year to be there. The Civic Center Plaza has undergone extensive modifications during the past few months, organizers noted.

The Concours in the Hills will be held Feb. 4 in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
The Concours in the Hills will be held Feb. 4 in Fountain Hills, Arizona.

“This is a fantastic event—this has been a lot of fun,” said automotive scribe and Pebble Beach chief class judge Winston Goodfellow. “This is kind of the kickoff to the whole Car Week/Auction Week. It’s a group of high-level cars in an intimate atmosphere. (You’ll want to) come to this because they’re going to have even more space next year.

Onto this new venue rolled 90 cars, many of which would have looked at home on the lawn at Pebble, Amelia Island, or Villa d’Est. For proof, consider the winner, which was described by the Concours as “a long and luscious 1947 Talbot Lago T26 Record Cabriolet” that took top honors at the 2023 Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

“Owned by Ray and Bonnie Kinney of Dallas, the Talbot Lago sports lavish custom coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi, making a joyful and opulent statement,” the Concours said in making the Best of Show announcement.

As at Pebble and other shows, each of the winners of the 12 judged Concours classes were eligible for Best of Show honors, a field that included such diverse contenders as a 1958 Ferrari 250 Granturismo Ellena, a 1936 Lincoln K330 convertible roadster, and a 1913 Bugatti T-22 Grand Prix vying for the top prize.

“The winning Talbot Lago has a colorful history, formerly owned by movie director George Sidney, who led production of such films as Showboat, Bye Bye Birdy, and Viva Las Vegas,” the Concours noted. “It later came into the possession of Lorin Tryon, the former chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

“The cabriolet was completely refurbished by RM Auto Restorations, then celebrated with concours wins at Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, and other significant events.

“The theme of this year’s Arizona Concours was The Art of Aerodynamics, which included cars from the beginnings of streamlined vehicles as well the high-tech styles of the most-extreme supercars of today.”

“Modern exotics” were part of a non-judged 13th class.

With the fifth successful Arizona Concours a wrap, now comes the hard part of business in the greater Scottsdale area in the coming week: selling thousands of cars, Elvis paintings, and neon gas pumps at venues like Barrett-Jackson, Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s, MAG Auctions, and the like.

And if that’s still not enough for you, stick around until Feb. 4 for the ninth (and nearby) Concours in the Hills. That event is sponsored by Gila River Resorts and Casinos benefitting Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the Cardiothoracic Surgery Support Fund. It’s held in fabulous Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ.

“Concours in the Hills continues to grow every year,” organizers said. “The event now takes over the entire park around the lake in Fountain Hills. Because of the spectacular venue, this event is deemed ‘The Greatest Car Show on Grass.’”

The Concours surrounds the scenic 34-acre lake, with 1200 cars on display. It’s all free. “It’s the best-kept secret in the whole valley,” said Goodfellow, who lives nearby.

It’s supported by numerous Arizona car clubs representing Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, Corvette, Viper, Ford GT, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mustang, Jaguar, Cadillac, Lotus, and others. It will also see motorcycles, military and civilian helicopters and, “tasty food and refreshment.”

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