Category archives: Concours & Events

Arizona Concours creates special class for the Cars of Frank Lloyd Wright

The Arizona COncours d'Elegance is held on the lawns of the Arizona Biltmore Resort | Arizona Concours
The Arizona Concours d’Elegance is held on the lawns of the Arizona Biltmore Resort | Arizona Concours

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.

Wright's 1929 Cord L29 | Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum
Wright’s 1929 Cord L29 | Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

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

Datsun Z cars get own concours class at Forest Grove

 The Datsun 240Z was an instant hit when it arrived in the U.S. | Nissan
The Datsun 240Z was an instant hit when it arrived in the U.S. | Nissan

Datsun scored a major breakthrough in the American perception of Japanese cars with the launch for 1970 of its 240Z. Here was a sophisticated and powerful sports coupe that rivaled the European competition, but was available at an affordable price.

Popular and plentiful, Z cars from the 1970s long have filled a niche among hobbyists seeking satisfying, durable sports cars to drive – especially the first-generation 240Z. But the cars never have achieved much traction as valued collector cars.

At least until now. Datsun Z cars should get a major dose of respect this year with another breakthrough: an entire class all their own at the 42nd annual Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance in July.

“The time has come,” said Jim Crisp, treasurer for the prestigious Oregon concours. “The Z cars are kind of unique and there seems to be a lot of interest in them.”

Recent scene at the Forest Grove Concours in Oregon | Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance
Recent scene at the Forest Grove Concours in Oregon | Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance

The featured class will be comprised of six select cars from 1970-79, years that cover three successive models — the original 240Z, the 260Z that was developed to comply with new U.S. regulations, and the 280Z that followed. However, the Z cars chosen for the concours will not necessarily represent each generation, Crisp said.

The Z class came about at the urging for several years by active Datsun Z club members in the Portland area, Crisp added. Finally, the Forest Grove Concours committee wondered, why not?

Leading the efforts to organize the class and to choose the six cars is Don Homuth of Salem, Ore., who has been a Z-car enthusiast for more than four decades and highly regarded for his knowledge of the brand. Crisp said Homuth is contacting Datsun Z clubs around the country to submit applications. The emphasis will be on pristine unmodified cars in their original configurations without custom or performance touches that have become so prevalent with these cars.

Homuth also has chosen a trio of experts who will judge the Datsuns under stringent concours standard for awards, Crisp said. Senior judge for the Forest Grove Concours is Glenn Mounger, well-known among classic car enthusiasts and a frequent judge and past chairman at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Forest Grove Concours d’ Elegance ( takes place July 20 on the campus of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore., with more than 300 antique, classic, sports, race, modified and collector cars expected.

The concours theme for this year is “The Art of Italian Motoring.” Besides the special class for Datsun Z cars, the event will celebrate the 50th anniversaries of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO.

Hand-sculpted custom coupe wins Goodguys prize

An evocative coach-built creation with a heavy-metal rock ’n’ roll connection has won Goodguys’ Custom of the Year, awarded this past weekend at the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association’s 32nd annual All American Get-Together in Pleasanton, Calif.

Named Black Pearl, the winning car is the result of collaboration between rock star James Hetfield, longtime front man for Metallica and a noted custom-car collector, and Rick Dore, one of California’s most well-known custom-car builders.

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Maserati racer, one-off Bianchi convertible take top honors at inaugural Desert Concorso

Strong winds stir up desert dust at the inaugural Desert Concorso | Larry Edsall photos

A car with a long racing history and a one-of-a-kind convertible that had to be put back together from parts long separated into boxes took the top honors Sunday in the inaugural Desert Concorso, which was staged on the golf course driving range at the Shadow Mountain resort in Palm Desert, Calif.

The best in show trophy went to a 1957 Maserati 450S originally raced extensively on the West Coast and more recently in vintage races there and in the Midwest by its current owner, Tom Hollfelder. In addition to its best in show award,  Hollfelder’s Maserati won the Fangio Award, given to the car that best exemplified the spirit of the multi-time world driving champion Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio won two of his five titles driving for the Italian automaker, which celebrates its centennial in 2014.

Taking honors as best in show first runner-up was a 1931 Bianchi S8 that is unique in at least two ways — it not only is only ’31 Bianchi S8 convertible ever built (compared to 250 S8 hardtops), but is the only S8 with coachwork by Graber. The car has its steering wheel on the right side of the passenger compartment because it originally was sold for export to Sweden, where drivers used the right side of the road at that time.

The Bianchi was disassembled into a variety of boxes when Roy Sayles bought it. Sayles had set out to buy an Austin Healey 3000. That car’s owner was 90 and in failing health and told Sayles he had another car that Sayles could have if he promised to complete its restoration.

When the 90-year-old said “have,” he meant it; Sayles could have the other car for free if he promised to finish the restoration. Sayles said he bought both cars — paying $1,000 for the Bianchi — which took four years and an additional $200,000 to restore into its now-stunning status.

Though much better known for building bicycles, Bianchi also built motorized bikes and three-wheelers and started producing automobiles as early as 1905.

We’ll have additional coverage soon, including an Eye Candy photo gallery.

Copperstate 1000 ready to rally in Arizona

Sports cars on tour during a past Copperstate 1000 road rally | Copperstate 1000
Sports cars on tour during a past Copperstate 1000 road rally | Copperstate 1000

The 24th annual Copperstate 1000 hits the road April 6 for a four-day, 1,000-mile tour of southern Arizona, featuring a superb contingent of vintage sports, GT and race cars in what has become one of the nation’s premier road rallies.

This year’s Copperstate 1000 route takes ralliers through the scenic and historic southeastern corner of Arizona, visiting the famed Old West town of Tombstone; a stop in Bisbee, the quirky mining town turned artists’ colony; “hill climbs” up the winding mountain roads of Kitt Peak and Mount Lemon; and a tour through the magnificent cactus-studded scenery of Saguaro National Park.

A rare 1965 Lamborghini 3500 GT Zagato will rally this year | Copperstate 1000
A rare 1965 Lamborghini 3500 GT Zagato will rally this year | Copperstate 1000

The event starts Sunday, April 6, with the 86-rally cars spread out for public inspection on the baseball field at Tempe Diablo Stadium during the annual Field of Dreams show. The parking lots around the stadium usually are as interesting as the main show as local hobbyists and collectors drive their special old cars to the stadium to show off.

Field of Dreams concludes with the rally cars being introduced and flagged off one at a time in a European-style sendoff for the first day of driving. The rally runs through April 9.

The 86 entries include exotic ’50s and ’60s sports and racing cars from such makers as Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar and Aston-Martin; vintage touring cars, such as the oldest vehicle in the rally, a 1924 Bentley; plus Corvettes, Shelbys and a rare Devin SS. There’s a 1955 Studebaker President Speedster and a 1957 Porsche Carrera Speedster.

Some of the cars are truly spectacular.

Unique 1953 Aston-Martin DB2/4 Bertone roadster | Copperstate 1000
Unique 1953 Aston-Martin DB2/4 Bertone roadster | Arizona Concours d’Elegance

“We’re very lucky to have Bill Pope bringing his 1952 Aston-Martin DB2/4 Bertone-bodied roadster,” said Kelly Whitton, spokesperson for the Men’s Arts Council, which organizes the Copperstate 1000 as a benefit for the Phoenix Art Museum. “It’s just phenomenal.”

The Aston-Martin Bertone was featured in January at the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance at the Arizona Biltmore.

“We also have a Lamborghini 3500 GT Zagato, one of two essentially prototype cars ever made,” Whitton added.

The rally is accompanied by a squad of DPS state-police officers on motorcycles, mechanics experienced with vintage cars to handle the inevitable breakdowns, and a support staff made up mainly of volunteers from the Men’s Arts Council.

The large number of road-going participants makes for some logistical challenges, Whitton said, especially for the small towns where the group will be staying in overnight stops.

“We’re pretty much taking over the entire town of Tubac,” Whitton said. “It’s all rented out.”

Portland Swap Meet celebrates 50th anniversary

Portland Swap Meet attracts some 3,500 vendors | Portland Swap Meet photos
Portland Swap Meet attracts some 3,500 vendors | Portland Swap Meet photos

The Portland Swap Meet celebrates its 50th anniversary April 4-6 with some 3,500 vendors and thousands more shoppers showing up at the Portland Metropolitan Exposition Center.

The meet is staged by a group of six local car clubs, which merged their separate swap meetings into one event that has become what is the largest of its kind in the northwestern United States and western Canada.

New old stock among goodies for sale
New old stock among goodies for sale

“The clubs decided to get together instead of each having its own garage sale,” said Dave Van Winkle, a more than 20-year swap meet veteran, chairman since 2001 and a long-time member of the Columbia River Region Group of the Early Ford V-8 Club of America.

Other clubs involved in staging the Portland swap meet are the Historical Automobile Club of Oregon, the Portland Region Group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, the Columbia River Region of the Vintage Chevrolet Club of America, the Beaver Chapter of the Model A Ford Club of America and the Rose City chapter of the Model T Ford Club of America.

Club newsletters report that HACO and the Model A and T clubs were the first to get together for a single event, which was held in an abandoned building slated for demolition to make way for Interstate 405. After that building was gone, the event moved to the second floor of the Joe Fisher Ford dealership. The sale next moved to a warehouse building in Beaverton, then to what now is known as the Expo Center.

However, at one point, a former swap meet chairman visited the big annual classic car parts sale and car show held at Hershey, Pa., and liked the way vendors would work out of their motorhomes. As a result, the Portland swap meet moved out to Portland International Raceway, which it rented for the sale weekend.

But one year, Van Winkle explained, the race track was doing construction and asked the swap meet to move from its usual April date. Instead, it moved to the Expo Center, though it still runs parking shuttles from the track as well as from Portland Meadows, the local horse-racing facility.

Visitors also can reach the Expo Center from the Portland light-rail system.

New for the 50th anniversary celebration is a swap meet Facebook page on which many vendors are previewing their wares.

Gauges and more
Gauges and more

“People like the party and the fun and the thrill of the search and discovery,” said Jim Zahniser, event spokesman. “But one of the things that’s also fun is if you know what booth to go to first for what you really want.“The swap meet draws people from as far away as Alberta and down to Sacramento. It’s probably the biggest swap in this region,” Zahniser said.

“And,” Van Winkle added, “it’s not a flea market. “We have a small area for antiques and collectibles, but we try to be completely automotive.”

Mercedes-Benz celebrates centennial of first 1-2-3 Grand Prix finish

Mercedes-Benz entries in the 1914 French Grand Prix | Mercedes-Benz Classic
Mercedes-Benz entries in the 1914 French Grand Prix | Mercedes-Benz Classic photos

The theme for the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed, England’s annual celebration of historic racing cars and the people who drove them, is “Addicted to Winning — The Unbeatable Champions of Motor Sport.”  At press preview of the festival was held recently in London and featured a display of racing cars from Mercedes-Benz, which this year celebrates the centennial of its 1-2-3 sweep of the French Grand Prix in 1914.

“The excitement of competition and the fascination of winning describe the spirit of the magical moments from 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motor racing history,” the German automaker said in a news release. “Mercedes-Benz is set to make this unique history, shaped both by people and vehicles, come alive at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with a host of original racing cars from the company’s collection.”

The Mercedes statement also noted that it was at Bonhams’ Festival of Speed auction last year at Goodwood that a Mercedes W196R Grand Prix racing car sold for a record $31.6 million.

Lautenschläger races at Lyon
Lautenschläger races at Lyon

Though Mercedes’ experience in motorsports dates back some 120 years, this year it will focus on a celebration of the 100th anniversary of its historic 1-2-3 finish in the 1914 French Grand Prix as well as the domination of its famed Silver Arrows racing cars in the 1930s and 1950s.

“The Festival of Speed is a premier event on the international classic automobile calendar,” said Michael Bock, head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “Mercedes-Benz attaches particular importance to putting in a strong appearance at Goodwood, one reason being that the motto for 2014 reflects the key message from 120 years of Mercedes-Benz motor sport in an exceptional way.”

It was on 4 July, 1914, that Mercedes drivers Christian Lautenschlager, Louis Wagner, and Otto Salzer and their co-driver riding mechanics swept the podium in the new Grand Prix racing cars produced by Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in the race on a 23.4-mile circuit south of the city of Lyon. Competition for the 20-lap race included Peugeot and Delage from France, Sunbeam from England and Fiat from Italy.

Lautenschläger and co-driver Hans Rieger
Lautenschläger and co-driver Hans Rieger

Mercedes entered five of its new racing cars in the French Grand Prix. Two retired from the race with technical issues, including one that had served as a “rabbit” in the race, setting a very fast early pace and helped to wear out the powerful Peugeots. Lautenschlager, Wagner and Salzer went on to produce what is believed to be the first 1-2-3 finish in international auto racing history.

The cars were powered by Merecedes’ new 4.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the company’s first with a four valves per cylinder design. The engine provided some 106 horsepower at 3,100 rpm and a top speed of more than 110 miles per hour.

The 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place June 26-29 at the country estate of the Earl of March in England.


‘Rivisioned’ ’64 Buick captures hallowed Ridler Award at Detroit Autorama

1964 Buick 'Rivision" wins Ridler Award | Margaret Hehr photo
1964 Buick ‘Rivision” wins Ridler Award | Margaret Hehr photos


‘Rivision” is the name J.F. Launier gave to the highly customized and stunningly yellow 1964 Buick Riviera that his JF Kustoms of Osoyoos, British Columbia, unveiled at the recent Autorama show in Detroit. Autorama judges gave Launier and his car the award named for the late Don Ridler.

The Ridler and the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award presented each year at the Grand National Roadster Show are the most important honors available for hot rod and custom cars.

Only cars being shown to the public for the first time are eligible for the Ridler. Cars must be able to move under their own power, though they don’t necessarily have to be put at risk by driving on public roads, and especially not the pot-holed roads of a harsh Detroit winter.

The Ridler is named for Don Ridler, a former Michigan State University college football star who became a master of event promotion, in part by mixing hot rod cars and top musical entertainment back in the early days of the Motor City Autorama.

Photos by Margaret Hehr

Each year a “Great 8” from among the cars entered in the Detroit Autorama are selected as finalists for the Ridler Award, which was first presented in 1964 to an AA Comp Bantam Coupe known as “Aggravation.”

A JF Kustoms-built 1967 Shelby GT500 known as the “Kardiac 500” was one of the Great 8 finalists for the Ridler in 2012. Launier also was responsible for the R’Evolution, a customized 1955 Chrysler station wagon that won Goodguys Rod & Custom Association honors in 2013 and earned Launier the club’s Trendsetter award for that year.

Rivision’s work in turning a ’64 Riv into the Ridler-winning Rivision included creating hand-formed fenders, hood, rear quarter panels and a rear end with the boat tail rear window from a 1971 Buick Riviera, as well as a hand-fabricated leather interior, and a custom-built 6.2-liter GM V8 engine tuned to provide 850 horsepower and linked to a six-speed gearbox, all on a one-off Perimetre chassis.


Desert Concorso: A piece of Monterey, but modified for a different environment

Cars line up for Desert Concorso preview at Shadow Mountain resort| Desert Concoro photo
Cars line up for Desert Concorso preview at Shadow Mountain resort| Desert Concoro photos

In the early 1980s, the Maserati Club International held a concours and awards dinner at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley. A few years later, the club invited the Lamborghini Club to what had become Concorso Italiano, a “celebration of Italian style.”

Soon, other marques joined the party, including the Ferrari Club, and by 2003 the event had outgrown its venue and moved across the Monterey Peninsula to the Bayonet Black Horse golf course. Other venues have followed, though this summer the event returns to the Black Horse site.

But before that gathering in August, organizers of Concorso Italiano will make their first venture outside the Monterey Peninsula when they stage the inaugural Desert Concorso on March 30 at the Shadow Mountain resort in Palm Desert, just southeast of Palm Springs.

“Concorso Italiano at Monterey is so popular,” said Concorso president Tom McDowell. “And we were seeing some strong growth in what I call the upper end of the Italian and exotic car market. We thought, ‘We’ve captured a bit of magic in Monterey, is there a way to bring that magic to other regions?’

We’ve captured a bit of magic in Monterey, is there a way to bring that magic to other regions?”
— Tom McDowell


“Southern California is mecca for the automobile world on all levels and certainly in the exotic car market,” he added. “We looked around. Where do we do it. We decided on the Coachella Valley, which is picturesque and affluent, as well as growing 95 percent of the American date crop.

McDowell said that while Concorso organizers were launching a second event, they also saw an opportunity to do things a little differently.

“We’re opening it up to European cars, and we even have some American and Japanese cars that are special,” he said. “This first year or two will be heavily weighted toward the Italian car world, but as word spreads among the German and British car communities, we’ll become a little more diversified, maybe a lot more diversified.”

There will be diversity in the desert
There will be diversity in the desert

Actually, there will be some interesting diversity right from the start. The event will include a class for 1932 Ford roadster hot rods as well as classes for Chevrolet Corvettes of various vintages. There also will be classes for purpose-built racing cars, early BMW racers, DeLoreans, and a group of Renault 5 Turbos.

For the most part, cars on display will be built before 1970, “except for Italian cars, we accept them regardless of age,” McDowell said, adding that there also is an exemption for ultra-exotic contemporary cars such as the Swedish-built Koenigsegg, and there will be a rainbow-colored display of Bentley GTs, and a group of Aston Martins.

“We don’t want this to be just a new car display,” McDowell said, “but we want very special cars that stand out.”

Cars will be judged and prizes awarded, though judging rules are more relaxed than those at a formal concours d’elegance. For examples, prizes will be given for “Best V12,” “Best Vintage Ferrari,” etc.

In addition to exotic sports car from various nations, Desert Concorso will be a celebration of Italian (and European) lifestyle with fashion, food, music and more.

While the Desert Concorso is the first spinoff of Concorso Italiano, it likely won’t be the last, though McDowell said the organizing committee will be move carefully.

“There’s only so much we want to bite off,” he said.

“We’re launching our first second event. We want to be sure we pull it off properly.”

For more information, visit


Pomona hosts inaugural Street Machine Nationals

The TT Camaro from Steve Strope’s Pure Vision, powered by a 1,400 Nelson Racing engine, will be displayed | Strope Pure Vision
The TT Camaro from Steve Strope’s Pure Vision, powered by a 1,400 Nelson Racing engine, will be displayed | Strope Pure Vision

A new event for street rod, pro-touring, custom and muscle car fans debuts March 22-23 when the O’Reilly Auto Parts Street Machine & Muscle Car Nationals takes over the Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., bringing the popular Midwest car show to the West Coast for the first time.

More than 1,000 performance machines and show cars are expected for the inaugural event, which is presented by Lucas Oil and billed as “America’s Car Show.” The Nationals will present cars and trucks from professional builders and rarely seen muscle cars from private collections. But it’s also an interactive event with local car collectors and hobbyists invited to bring their own muscle cars and street machines.

Everybody’s invited to enter a special car in the event | Street Machine Nationals
Everyone’s invited to enter a special car | Street Machine Nationals

Not only can owners bring their special cars for display, they can take part in a number of activities, such as autocross competitions, Mickey Thompson Tires Burnout Contests, the Dyno Challenge and special outdoor cruising lanes for styling and profiling. More than 40 judged show awards will be presented. For entry information, see

A Pro Builders Pavilion headlines the Nationals with some of the hottest magazine feature cars from the country’s top builders. The pavilion will be anchored by the Chip Foose Experience, which will include the P-32 Roadster, built in the style of rat rods and World War II fighter planes, and the exotic custom supercar Hemisfear.

So-Cal Speed Shop will present a number of fantasy cars at the pavilion, including John De Vine’s LS7-powered 1966 Chevelle; Richard Varner’s 675-horsepower So-Cal Coyote Roadster; Jimmy Shine’s 1934 Ford Pick-Up; and the 1961 Caddy Coupe De Ville owned by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.

Chip Foose's intense Hemisfear street rod | Chip Foose Design
Chip Foose’s intense Hemisfear street rod | Chip Foose Design

“Customs from the big name builders just keep pouring in, and we are thrilled to have a Pro Builders Pavilion packed with vehicles from so many of the industry’s top names including Chip Foose and Jimmy Shine,” said Jessica Kirchner, marketing manager for Street Machine & Muscle Car Nationals. “This is a great place for car fans to see these iconic vehicles up-close and even meet some famous builders.”

Other show features include the Performance Midway with vendors’ products and services on display, celebrity autograph sessions, live music by Queen Nation and Joshua Tree, and a Miss Street Machine Nationals contest.

The Street Machine & Muscle Car Nationals is the latest automotive event held on the site of the famed Pomona Swap Meet and Classic Car Show, an event that takes place seven times a year, the next one April 13.