Category archives: Concours & Events

Mercedes sending historic cars to Nurburgring vintage races

Ayrton Senna drove a 190 'Evo' to victory at first race on Nurburgring's GP circuit | Mercedes-Benz Classic photos
Ayrton Senna drove a 190 ‘Evo’ to victory at first race on Nurburgring’s GP circuit | Mercedes-Benz Classic photos
The Mercedes historic DTM entries and drivers
The Mercedes historic DTM entries and drivers

Mercedes-Benz Classic continues its celebration of 120 years of Mercedes-Benz racing history May 30-June 1 when it sends several cars to the Historic Trophy Nurburgring 2014 vintage races. The Mercedes contingent includes cars that won the first race ever at the now-famed Nurburgring circuit in Germany’s Eifel region as well as one that won the first race at the “new” Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit several decades later.

Formerly known as the ADAC Eifel Race, the renamed Historic Trophy Nurburgring features vintage racers from the German Touring Car series (DTM).

It was 30 years ago that the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit opened within the much longer Nurburgring road course. The first race at the modern track was won by 24-year-old Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna in a 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16.

Not only will the “Senna” car return to the track, so will one of the historic Silver Arrows, the cars that won the inaugural race at the Nurburgring in 1927.

Mercedes SSK in action in 2011
Mercedes SSK in action in 2011

To lighten the Mercedes racers for that event, the Mercedes were stripped of their usual white paint and thus were dubbed the “Silver Arrows” because of their exposed metallic bodywork. In the Nurburgring’s first race, June 19, 1927, Rudolf Caracciola beat Mercedes’ teammate Adolf Rosenberger, and the legend of the Silver Arrows was born.

“As a long-term partner and the main sponsor of the event, we can look back over a 120-year motorsport history brimming with successes,” said Michael Bock, head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “With exciting original vehicles and former racing drivers, we want to rekindle the historic motor sport of bygone eras in an authentic way and thus conjure up further magic moments. This works especially well on the Nürburgring.”

Thus a 1928 Mercedes SSK driven by Jochen Mass will compete in the Historic Trophy Nurburgring “Elephant Race” for cars from the 1920s and 1930s.

Other events on the program include the Dunlop FHR Long-Distance Cup for GT and touring cars produced between 1947 and 1975 and the Youngtimer Trophy for cars that raced in the 1966-90 period. Both of those events will be three-hour races.

A 220 SE leads vintage race at Spa in 2012
A 220 SE leads vintage race at Spa in 2012

The Mercedes-Benz 220 SE will compete in the long-distance event with the “racing tailfins,” the 190E Evolution II, entered in the young-timer’s competition.

Among the drivers for various Mercedes vehicles entered in the historic racing weekend are former DTM racers Roland Asch, Bernd Schneider, Ellen Lohr, Klaus Ludwig, Kurt Thiim and Jorg van Ommen.

Mighty Can-Am racers on track for Sonoma historics

Shadow Can-Am cars will be featured during the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival | Stephen Scharf
Shadow Can-Am cars will be featured during the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival | Stephen Scharf

One the most exciting and sometimes outrageous forms of racing in the history of motorsports, the SCCA Can-Am Series, will be celebrated May 17-18 when the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival returns to Sonoma Raceway in northern California.

Can-Am racing, which ran from 1966-74, was conducted under FIA rules that allowed cars with unlimited engine capacity, virtually unrestricted aerodynamics and few other technical restrictions. The result was a group of spectacular two-seat, closed-wheel cars, including those from such celebrated competition marques as Lola, McLaren, Porsche, Chaparral and Shadow.

The 28th annual historic-car event organized by General Racing Ltd. in Sonoma will focus on the early years of the Can-Am Series, and the unique Shadow racers that competed from 1970-74.

A McLaren Can-Am racing at Sonoma | Sonoma Raceway
A McLaren Can-Am racing at Sonoma | Sonoma Raceway

“The early days of the Can-Am Series was an exciting time in North American motorsports,” said Steve Earle, president of General Racing Ltd. “It was a dynamic era when designers and engineers were given a free hand, a clean sheet of paper, to create the fastest sports racing cars they could imagine: the unlimited racing car.”

Can-Am was the birthplace and proving ground for the latest experiments in racecar technology. The cars were among the first with aerodynamic wings and ground effects, effective turbocharging and such aerospace materials as titanium. The high cost of this technological arms race is blamed for the eventual downfall of the Can-Am Series.

“They could create whatever they thought would get their driver around a track the fastest. Period,” Earle said. “The first Shadow was certainly one of those cars.”

Drivers of the Can-Am era included such familiar names as Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Jim Hall, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jackie Oliver, Peter Revson and John Surtees.

Follmer won the 1972 Can-Am Championship driving Roger Penske’s Porsche “Panzer,” and partnered with 1974 champion Jackie Oliver on Don Nichols’ Shadow team. He and Nichols, founder of Nichols Advanced Vehicle Systems, are honored guests at this year’s Festival and will anchor a discussion group, “Can-Am through the eyes of Shadow,” at the third annual racing seminar, a free event held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 17, at  Sonoma Raceway.

A wide selection of racers will be on the track | Sonoma Raceway
A wide selection of racers will be on the track | Sonoma Raceway

Also being honored on the panel is chassis designer Trevor Harris, innovative creator of the very first AVS Shadow Mark 1, the ultra-radical “Tiny Tire” car that “Fearless” George Follmer debuted in 1970. Pete Lyons, photographer and prolific author of books covering the Can-Am Series, will round out the panel discussion with his informed perspective.

The seminar will be followed by an autograph session with the panel members.

Shadow Can-Am cars currently owned by Fred Cziska of Petaluma, Calif., and Dennis Losher of Twain Harte, Calif., are expected to be on display and competing at Sonoma, along with other Can-Am cars, including a group of 1968 McLaren M6Bs, a 1972 McLaren M8F driven by pro sports-car racer Rick Knoop, and a cadre of 1960s Lola T-70s and T-163s.

The Can-Am cars are just part of the show as around 350 vintage and historic race cars in 14 race groups are scheduled to run on the 12-turn, 2.52-mile Sonoma road course in northern California’s wine country. They range from a 1911 National 40 and a 1917 Chevrolet 490 Speedster to more “modern-day” racers, such as a 1964 Bobsy-Porsche SR-3, 1965 Cobra and Corvette, 1970 Porsche 917 and 908, a 1988 Protofab Corvette and a 1991 Roush Mustang.

For more information about the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival, including associated events, see www.racesonoma.com.

Son of DAT: Nissan showcasing part of its heritage at Carlisle Import celebration

Photos by Randy Sweetman courtesy Nissan North America

Last year, to support Peter Brock’s appearance at the Carlisle Import & Kit Nationals, Nissan North America took the Brock Racing Enterprises-liveried Datsun 510 that’s part of the automaker’s historic collection and hauled it from the basement of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville to the Carlisle fairgrounds in Pennsylvania.

This month — May 16-18 to be specific — the automaker is going back to Carlisle, and this time with six other vehicles from the Nissan Heritage Collection.

“We have about 57 vehicles at the moment,” Dave Bishop said of the heritage cars. Bishop’s day job is senior manager of product development for Nissan North America’s Parts & Service Division, but the long-time classic car enthusiast also is the curator of the company’s collection of historic vehicles.

“We’ve always held onto some vehicles,” Bishop explained. “We had cars in California from the very early days, and then probably in the late ’70s or early ’80s we started adding a few historical vehicles. We got up to about 60 cars.”

But when Nissan moved its American headquarters from the West Coast to the Midwest, where the company has assembly plants, about half of the collection was “dispersed” — some to museums, some to long-time Nissan dealers and a few to employees, “because we didn’t have a place to put them when we came to Nashville,” Bishop said.

But after learning that the Lane museum also was located in Nashville, a deal was struck to store the Nissan Heritage Collection cars in the Lane basement.

“We had a lot of racecar heritage (such as the BRE cars) and (Datsun 240, 260 and 280) Z heritage,” Bishop said of the collection. “But we couldn’t not have remained profitable selling only the 240Z and 260Z and 280Z.”

“It was cars such as the B210 that kept us going and I’m trying to fill in the collection with those sort of bread-and-butter vehicles (in fact, he’s searching for a mid-’70s 720-series pickup truck that’s still in its original configuration). They’re not glamorous, but are very important to our history.”

But they also are turning out to be very hard to find, at least in the original stock configuration that Bishop needs for the Heritage group. So many, he said, have been modified and hot-rodded.

“It’s important to preserve our heritage.”

— Dave Bishop

 

“I’ve been adding vehicles whenever I could find something that was in one of our design studios or tech centers that I thought potentially was useful or interesting for the collection,” Bishop said. In addition to vehicles that had been squirreled away by designers or engineers, he’s arranged for the purchase of other vehicles that have historic significance for Nissan.

“It’s important to preserve our heritage,” he said.

And to share it.

Like an iceberg, the bulk of the Nissan Heritage Collection is hidden from public view at the museum, with only between 3 and 5 of the cars rotating through the facility’s public exhibition area. But Bishop is working with the Lanes staff to find a way to put many more if not all the Nissan cars on display.

But for Bishop, it’s not enough for those cars to be on display. They also must be driven.

“My goal is keep them all street worthy so they are a living asset and not a static display,” he said.

Nissan North America sent more than half a dozen of its heritage cars to the Nissan 360 international press event last year in California. When the new Nissan Versa Note was introduced (in Nashville), it was joined by a B-210 for the unveiling because, as Bishop explained it, that car was “the market segment equivalent of 35 years ago.”

And now, six cars from the collection are going to Carlisle:

  • A 1961 Fairlady roadster
  • A 1969 1600 roadster
  • A 1972 240Z
  • A 1972 510
  • A 1977 B210 GX
  • A 1995 300ZX SMZ

Though it’s not making the trip to Carlisle, the oldest car in the Nissan Heritage Collection is a 1937 Datsun Konut roadster.

“In the 1930s, Datsun products were essentially knockdown kits of the Austin Seven built under license,” Bishop said, adding that Nissan North America’s Konut roadster is undergoing restoration. “It’s running and driving and going to paint and trim fairly soon.”

Oh, and it’s not just Nissan North America that is working to preserve and to celebrate the company’s heritage and history. Nissan Motor Corp. itself is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and has set up a website that celebrates not only its cars but the people who made them.

It was Masujiro Hashimoto, an American-educated engineer, who established a company to build Japan’s first cars. Funding came from three Japanese investors whose respective last names began with D, A and T. Thus the cars — production began in 1914 — were branded as DATs.

When a new two-seat roadster was launched for 1918, it was called the “Datson,” or son of DAT. Soon, Datson became Datsun.

 

Sam Posey to talk about forgotten racing series

The Le Grand Mk7 raced by Sam Posey in the F5000 series in 1968 | IMRRC photo
The Le Grand Mk7 raced by Sam Posey in the F5000 series in 1968 | IMRRC photo

The car he initially raced may have been among his least favorites, and the series in which he raced may have been motorsports’ best-kept secret, but that won’t stop Sam Posey from sharing stories about the F5000 series at the International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, New York.

Posey — racer, architect and television commentator — will speak at 1 p.m. May 10 about the racing series that, as he wrote several years ago in an article in Road & Track magazine, “no one outside the racing world seemed to know F5000 existed.”

Writing about the series in that article, Posey noted that, “Although I never won the championship, some of the achievements I’m most proud of as a driver came in F5000. The cars were fast, challenging and evenly matched because so many teams could afford the components you needed to win. The racing was terrific, and the opposition included some of the top drivers of the period.The F5000 was the professional version of the Sports Car Club of America’s Formula A category and featured open-wheel, Grand Prix-style cars powered by stock block American V8 engines. Cars came from McLaren, Eagle, Lola, Chevron and others and were driven by the likes of Posey, Mario Andretti, the Unsers, Jody Scheckter, Brian Redman, David Hobbs, Tony Adamowicz and others.

Posey was series runner-up in 1971 and 1972. But in 1968 he drove the Le Grand Mk7 that J.C. Argetsinger, president of the research center, called “one of Posey’s least favorite race cars.”

However, Argetsinger added, “The Le Grand was an early and important step in the development of Formula 5000 race cars. The reunion between Sam and the Le Grand is certain to be a memorable experience for all.”

In addition to Posey and the car itself, Bob Mayer and Jacques Dresang (Mayer and Dresang’s father, Rick, own the Le Grand) will talk about the car’s place in American racing history and the story of its restoration.

Also participating in the program is James Stengel, who is researching the Formula 5000 series and who drives an F5000 in vintage races.

The presentation featuring Posey is part of the Center Conversation series, which on June 21 will feature vintage car-event organizer Murray Smith. Others giving talks in coming months include Cary Agajanian, son of famed team owner J.C. Agajanian, Steve Zautke of the Milwauke Mile track, and Michael Martin, who will discuss the U.S. Road Racing Championship race series of the 1960s.

The Racing Research Center is an archival library dedicated to the preservation of the history of motorsports through its collections of books, periodicals, films, photographs, fine art and other materials. For more information visit the www.racingarchives.org website.

Famous Jaguar sports cars, racers entered in Mille Miglia

Jaguar C-types, D-types and XKs will run in Italy's famed Mille Miglia | Jaguar Heritage Racing
Jaguar C-types, D-types and XKs will run in Italy’s famed Mille Miglia | Jaguar Heritage Racing

Jaguar Heritage Racing will field 10 of its most-celebrated race and sports cars of the 1950s for the Mille Miglia classic car rally May 15-18 through the heart of Italy.

Driving the historic collection of XKs, C-types and D-types will be famous stars of stage, screen, music and motorsports, who will pair up as pilots and navigators for the driving event that reenacts the former Mille Miglia road race, which ran from 1927 through 1958.

The Jaguar Heritage Racing entries and famous occupants include:

* The 1951 Jaguar XK 120 roadster that raced as part of the Ecurie Ecosse team, driven by retired Tonight Show host Jay Leno;

* The ex-Jim Swift racing XK120 roadster driven by award-winning British actor Jeremy Irons;

* An XK140 once owned by successful British racing driver David Hobbs and to be driven by Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald.

* Three famous C-type racing cars, to be driven by AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson, Belgian singer-songwriter Milow (Jonathan Vandenbroeck) and ex-Jaguar Le Mans 24 Hours race winner Andy Wallace, who will drive the Jaguar C-type that won the 1952 Reims Grand Prix with Formula 1 legend Stirling Moss at the wheel.

* The penultimate “Long Nose” Jaguar D-type, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2014, driven by the team of ex-Jaguar Le Mans and World Sports Prototype Championship winner, Formula 1 driver and TV pundit Martin Brundle and ex-Formula 1 racer Bruno Senna.

* Other beautiful XK 120s will be occupied by British music star Elliot Greave and his wife, Erin Greave, TV personality and former Miss Australia; author David Blakeley with TV personality Jodie Kidd; and Jaguar Vehicle Integrity Chief Engineer Mike Cross in the ex-Stirling Moss Monthlery record-breaking coupe.

One of the world’s most popular classic car events, the 2014 edition of the Mille Miglia hosts a total of 430 cars, “all of them cars of great historical and sporting prestige,” according to the event organizers.

For more about the Mille Miglia, see http://www.1000miglia.eu/

Porsche’s ‘rolling museum’ to visit Pebble Beach

A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum
A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum

Porsche calls it a “rolling museum.”

“It” is a showcase of Porsche racing cars that takes them from their stationary positions within the Porsche Museum in Germany and puts them on roads and race tracks, not only at Europe’s top classic car events this year but also in northern California.

From May 15-18, a 550 Spyder, two 356 coupes and a 356 Speedster will participate in the annual Mille Miglia rally in Italy, the Porsche Museum  announced. Among the drivers for the 1,000-mile rally are Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche and famed endurance racer Jacky Ickx.

June 6-7, famed Porsche racers Walter Rohrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck will drive a 911 Carrera 2.7 RS and a 911 Speedster across southwestern Germany in the Paul Pietsch Klassik.

Porsche's 917 at Goodwood in 2013
Porsche’s 917 at Goodwood in 2013

Later in June (26-29), Porsche will participate in the “Turbo” theme of the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, and not only with a 959 Group B rally car, a 964 Turbo, a 993 Turbo and the “Baby” 935, a car that gets its nickname from is scaled-down 1.4-liter engine, but with two 917s — the 917 KH that produced Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans and a 917/30 Can-Am series racer.

July 6-7, a 911 Carrera RSR Targa Florio, a 935/77 Group 5 racer, a 911 Turbo Cabriolet and a 911 Turbo 3.0 will go from the museum to the Le Mans Classic.

Porsche itself is the featured marque for the Ennstal Classic that takes place July 10-12. In addition to several 356s from the museum, Porsche will send a 911 2.2 Targa, will have Rohrl in a 718 WRS, Ickx in a 550 A Spyder and current works racer Marc Lieb in a 1998 Porsche GT1 for the Chopard Grand Prix von Grobming. The program includes a hill climb, touring drives through the Tauern Mountains, and the grand prix race through city streets.

Cars from the Porsche Museum will participate in the sixth Schloss Bensberg Classic scheduled for July 18-20, traveling to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the U.S. in mid-August, and from August 21-24 parting in the Sachsen Classic, a classic car rally from Zwickau to Chemnitz in Europe’s Vogtland region.

Porsche says its “rolling museum” is part of its philosophy of making sure all the vehicles in its museum are roadworthy and “thus fulfill the original purpose for which they were built: to be driven.”

Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally
Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally

Everything may be bigger in Texas: Houston doubles up on concours, auctions

2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d'Elegance of Texas
2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d’Elegance of Texas

Pebble Beach, Scottsdale and Amelia Island have become focal points on the classic car calendar, drawing enthusiasts from across the country (and around the world) because of their overlapping multiple events. Is Houston a serious candidate to join that club?

Consider that soon after Mecum Auctions completed a record-setting sale in Houston’s Reliant Center, there will be not one but two concours d’elegance in the oil-driven boom town on the same weekend in early May, each with an auction and all sorts of other activities.

Recently, we shared the news that a Motostalgia auction will join the lineup for the 19th annual Keels & Wheels concours at Seabrook, on Galveston south of Houston. But that early May weekend also is the date for the third annual Concours d’Elegance of Texas, which is held less than 100 miles away, albeit on the other side of the city, northwest of Houston at the La Torretta Lake resort and spa on Lake Conroe in Montgomery.

Judges hear a car's story
Judges hear a car’s story

In its third year, the Texas concours includes:

  • A driving tour
  • Golf tournament
  • Worldwide Auctioneers 19th annual Houston Classic auction
  • “Next Gen” educational summit (with experts from Hagerty and Worldwide instructing high school students and at-risk youth on classic car preservation, maintenance, restoration and judging)
  • Cowboys & Cars strolling charity dinner and dance
  • A 5th annual antiques festival in historic Montgomery
  • The concours, sponsored by the Gullo family auto dealership group, with 34 classes of classic cars on display and being judged.

Featured vehicles at the auction include:

  • A 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster
  • An ex-works 1930 Riley Brooklands two-seat roadster
  • A garage-found after 40 years 1957 Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mark III
  • A 1-of-4 1934 Auburn Twelve salon cabriolet
  • A 2,700-mile 1969 L88 Chevrolet Corvette

The Texas concours calls itself “The Family Concours” because of its family-friendly location, said the event’s head of operations, John Aguillard. The La Torretta Lake resort includes its own water park, a variety of restaurants and a baby-sitting service.

“Our chief judge, R.C. Willbanks Jr., has two small children and told us ‘this is an absolutely wonderful place to have a concours. Not only do I get to have fun, but I get to have fun with my family’,” said Aguillard, who explained that the judge’s remark led to the event’s subtitle.

The location also makes the event an easier drive for classic car enthusiasts from Dallas, which is the home of event chairman Mike Ames. In addition to Ames, others on the event’s board of directors include Don Sommer, founder of Michigan Concours d’Elegance at Meadow Brook (now held at the Inn at St. Johns); Hudson and AMC collector Ed Souers; former Keels & Wheels co-chairman Ron Stein; and David Madeira, president of The LeMay museum.

Maybe it’s not only Houston’s but Texas’ turn in the classic car spotlight: In addition to the recent Mecum sale and the two Houston-area concours, Leake Auctions has a sale April 25-26 at Dallas, and north of there, up near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the second-annual Cruisin’ Nocona old-car festival, complete with a Vicari classic car auction, takes place May 1-3.

The Leake docket is highlighted by:

  • One of only three known extant (of 16 built) 1957 Chevrolet El Moroccos
  • A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa with only 8,119 miles on its odometer
  • A 2005 Bentley Continental GT that will be sold to benefit St. Cloud’s Rescue, a care and adoption program for large-breed dogs
  • A never-raced, 49th of 50-produced 2014 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet (the buyer gets a complimentary visit to the Roy Hill Drag Racing School)
  • A 2009 Dodge challenger SRT8 SEMA show car.

La Jolla Concours picks best of show winners

The 1953 Cadillac Ghia was designed to show off the Italian coachbuilder’s skill | Petersen Automotive Museum
The 1953 Cadillac Ghia was designed to show off the Italian coachbuilder’s skill | Petersen Automotive Museum

A Cadillac concept coupe that an Arabian prince once gave to a Hollywood movie queen was picked as a best of show winner at the recent La Jolla Concours d’Elegance in California.

The Cadillac, a streamlined fantasy car designed by Italian coachbuilder Ghia and which first appeared at the 1953 Paris Auto Salon, was the judges’ choice for the post-war grand prize at the 10th annual concours.

The Bugatti is a past Pebble Beach winner |  La Jolla Concours
The Bugatti has a Gaston Grumman body | La Jolla Concours

The winner of the pre-war best of show award was a rare Bugatti touring car, a 1930 Type 46 Faux Cabriolet known as a “Petite Royale” because of its placement as a smaller variation of the massive, ultra-luxury Bugatti Royale.

The Cadillac Ghia, which is based on the Series 62, was one of just two built by the carrozzeria. After its appearance in Paris, the show car was purchased by Prince Ali Salman Aga Khan as a gift for his actress wife, Rita Hayworth. Despite the spectacular present, the couple divorced later that year. Hayworth kept the car.

Now owned by the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, the Cadillac Ghia originally was painted white but later changed to its current burgundy color. Since its restoration, the show car has made a number of appearances at major concours, including Pebble Beach.

The winning Bugatti Type 46 also has a coachbuilt body, created by Gaston Grumman of France, and is now owned by Richard Adams of La Jolla, an affluent seaside section of San Diego.

For a complete list of La Jolla Concours winners, see www.lajollaconcours.com.

’55 Chevy wins best of show at Charlotte AutoFest

Jerry Horine celebrates with his '55 Chevy Bel Air that won best of show at AutoFest | AutoFest
Jerry Horine celebrates with his ’55 Chevy Bel Air after winning best of show at AutoFest | AutoFest

A blazing-orange customized 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air was proclaimed best of show at the annual AutoFair, a sweeping celebration of classic cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Owned by Jerry Horine of Louisville, Ky., the two-door sedan bested competitors from 48 car clubs that vied for awards during the four-day show, which was hosted by OldRide.com.

Horine, 72, said this was the first car-show appearance for his resto-mod Chevy, which he bought about a year ago. His family in North Carolina convinced him to enter the car in AutoFest, he added.

“We’re one for one,” said Horine of the victory, which earned him a silver cup trophy. “And we plan to continue to do more.”

First runner-up went to Eddie Sells, of Apex, N.C., for his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro. Second runner-up went to John Jancic, from Cleveland, N.C., for his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner.

The fall edition of AutoFair takes place Sept. 18-21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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 www.azconcours.com.