America’s most famous 20th Century architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, also was an auto enthusiast who owned a succession of special vehicles during his long career. He added personal touches to many of them, often having them repainted in his signature color, Cherokee Red, a hue that appeared in his architectural designs.
Several of his cars have appeared in concours events over the years, including Pebble Beach, and a number of them are on permanent display in auto museums.
The Arizona Concours d’Elegance is taking that another step by staging a Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright class for its second annual event next January at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix.
The special class will celebrate Wright’s strong connection with Arizona, including his winter home and architecture school, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, as well as his influence on the architecture of the historic Biltmore hotel, which opened in 1929.
“There’s just a mystique that travels with Frank Lloyd Wright,” said Ed Winkler, one of the directors of the Arizona Concours. “Because he has a grand presence in Arizona with Taliesin West and his connection with the Biltmore hotel, that’s what’s driving this class.”
There’s just a mystique that travels with Frank Lloyd Wright.”
— Ed Winkler
The Biltmore’s unique design – created in Wright’s landmark style by architect Albert Chase MacArthur – was the inspiration for gathering as many of Wright’s cars as possible for the concours, Winkler said.
Winkler has been working non-stop to locate the cars and to contact owners and museums, including the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Ind.
“I’ve been talking to lots of people,” Winkler said. “It’s been a challenge to locate the cars and the present owners of the cars.”
Two of Wright’s cars from Great Britain have been confirmed for entry, Winkler said. those are Wright’s 1937 AC roadster and a 1953 Bentley Sedanca Coupe DeVille R Type.
There are a number of other Wright cars in Winkler’s sights, including two on permanent display at the A-C-D museum. Those two are wildly divergent and show the scope of Wright’s automotive interests — a classic 1929 Cord L-29 cabriolet and a 1952 Crosley Super Roadster, which was part of a fleet of the tiny cars that Wright purchased for use by his architecture colleagues.
Some of the other cars that Winkler hopes to bring to the concours include a 1936 Lincoln Zephyr; two Lincoln Continentals, one with a Wright-designed formal town-car roof; a pair of 1953 Jaguars; a 1910 Standard; and a 1955 Chevrolet Nomad wagon. There is also a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing which is believed to be located in Italy, Winkler said.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation based in Scottsdale has been helping to find and secure the cars for the concours, Winkler added. The plan is for the Wright cars to assemble the day after the concours for display and photos at Taliesin West, Winkler said.
There are something like 20 Wright cars out there, Winkler said, adding that he plans to pursue all of them.
“We’ll have enough cars for the class,” he added. “But I want them all.”
The 2015 Arizona Concours is scheduled to take place January 11 on the landscaped lawns of the Arizona Biltmore, where the inaugural event held three months ago earned rave reviews. Eighty exceptional cars will be assembled for the concours, ranging from brass cars and full classics to sports and racing cars.
The concours is presented as an exclusive boutique event with a limited number of tickets available.
Besides the Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright, other special classes for 2015 will focus on the classic U.S. luxury brand Pierce-Arrow, competition Ferraris through 1965 with documented racing history, and the 100th anniversary of the Italian design house Ghia.
For tickets, entries and other information, see www.azconcours.com.