Depth of field: New hallmark of the Arizona Concours

Depth of field: New hallmark of the Arizona Concours

The headlines, here and elsewhere, were about the Bugatti Atlantic which, to no one’s astonishment, won Best of Show accolades Sunday at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

Two of the cars in the Lincolns of the Classic Era class at the Arizona Concours d'Elegance | Larry Edsall photos

Two of the cars in the Lincolns of the Classic Era class at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance | Larry Edsall photos

The headlines, here and elsewhere, were about the Bugatti Atlantic which, to no one’s astonishment, won Best of Show accolades Sunday at the Arizona Concours d’Elegance. The Atlantic is so famous, so rare and so spectacularly beautiful a car that it simply overshadowed the rest of the show field.

But while the Atlantic certainly was due such respect, not to be overlooked were those other cars at the concours. Even without the Atlantic, the field for the Arizona concours was the best in the event’s four-year history. While other concours d’elegance have a larger footprint — literally and figuratively — in just four years the Arizona event has attracted quality that more than makes up for any shortcomings in sheer quantity.

1952 Osca MT4 (blue), 1908 Renault AX (red) and preservation-class Bugatti

1952 Osca MT4 (blue), 1908 Renault AX (red) and preservation-class Bugatti

One reason, of course, is the work to convince owners of some of the world’s most significant cars to show them at the concours. Another is the concours’ location, the inner courtyards of the Arizona Biltmore Resort, a place as historic and spectacular as the Bugatti Atlantic itself. Instead of the typical golf-course fairway, cars at the Arizona concours are set within Art Deco architecture inspired by the work and teaching of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Not only are the cars positioned with gorgeous backdrops, car owners and spectators alike can enjoy shaded walkways, plenty of places to sit, as well as the hotel’s dining facilities and various sponsors’ hospitality suites.

Soon after the announcement confirming the best of show winner, the owner of one of the three other finalists approached Warner Hall, the senior docent from the Mullin Automotive Museum, who was shepherding the Bugatti Atlantic during its stay in Arizona.

Kevin Cogan, of Louisville, Kentucky, owns the first 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa coupe produced. That it was bodied by Vignale, the Italian coachbuilder that worked its magic on just two such 250 Europa chassis, only adds to its appeal and its value.

Cogan congratulated Hall, said he wasn’t happy about not winning top honors, but to the effect that if his car had to lose, there was absolutely no shame in losing to a Bugatti Atlantic.

Riveted-together aluminum body panels on the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

Riveted-together aluminum body panels on the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic

Indeed. Nor really would there have been any shame had either of the other finalists — a 1937 Lagonda LG45 Rapide sport tourer and a 1933 Marmon V16 convertible coupe — emerged as best of show. In fact, some of the other best in class winners, cars thus eligible for best of show consideration, might have taken that honor at other venues.

Consider that there were nine cars — nine! — in the Cars of Ettore and Jean Bugatti class. Plus two more from that artistic family in the Preservation class.

The American Classic Open class, won by the Marmon, presented a stunning array including a V16 Cadillac, a pair of Duesenbergs — one a Model J Tourister and the other and Model A dual-cowl phaetons — plus supercharged Cord 812, Auburn 8-125 and a duel-cowl Packard sport phaeton.

Cogan’s Ferrari won among nine cars in the Coachwork by Vignale class. The Lagonda was in a European Classic category that included a Delage D8S and Maybach Zeppelin DS.

Also stunning was the seven-car Lincolns of the Classic Era class, and for some showgoers, nothing was better than the Iconic Post-War American Cars grouping.

Enhancing the visitors’ experience was the fact that the cars were positioned in several of the resort’s courtyards, so you could go around a corner and discover yet another amazing array of automobiles.

You can see for yourself on January 14, 2018.

Photos by Larry Edsall

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