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Concours d'Elegance | Collector Cars and Automotive Design

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Arizona Concours d’Elegance | Automobiles, Art and Aerodynamics

Arizona Concours dElegance
Just like old classic collector cars, Arizona Concours d’Elegance is making its comeback with a new artistic upgrade.

The highly anticipated Arizona Concours d’Elegance is making a return to the valley this month at the newly renovated Scottsdale Civic Center. Attendees of the event, put on in partnership with Scottsdale Arts, will be able to get up close and personal with some of the world’s rarest, and most valuable, collector cars at the curated and judged exhibition, as well as support the arts and local artists.

As lovers of all things design (including automotive design!), ICONIC LIFE sat down with Arizona Concours d’Elegance co-founders and directors, Chuck Stanford Jr. and Ed Winkler, to get all of the need-to-know information for the event!

IT STARTED WITH A PHONE CALL

A classic car enthusiast and friend of Winkler’s called him up one day and proposed the idea of doing a Concours. Winkler knew that there had been talks of bringing a Concours to Phoenix but for one reason or another, it never materialized. With little hesitation, he was in but knew there was one other person that they needed to make it happen. He called up Stanford, let him in on the idea and heard the words “Sign me up!” through the phone.  

We should mention that these conversations occurred in the middle of 2016, giving the three men about six months to pull off what others couldn’t do. Despite all odds, they did it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Gran Turismo - first in class American Powered Sports cars - Michael Tobian photo

EVENT HISTORY

The Arizona Concours d’Elegance got its official start in 2014, holding its first event at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. For four years, Stanford and Winkler watched their event shift into hyperdrive as it grew year over year, becoming what they would consider one of the top Concours events in the country, going as far as to say that it could have been top five. The duo credits the event’s speedy success to a few main things.

“We were able to do that because we brought in, number one, the best cars, number two, the best judges, and number three, we had a wonderful partner in Make-A-Wish that provided a lot of backup for us.” Winkler continued, “You take all of that and surround it with the Biltmore Hotel and it was a real winner.”

Arizona Concours dElegance_photo by Patrick Ernzen 2

Considering people from all over the world came to the event, whether they were entrants or spectators, we’d say “a real winner” is quite accurate. And as we all know, news travels fast. Once word got out that the Arizona Concours d’Elegance had fair, non-political judges, car collectors were lining up to be part of the show. By the time they got to 2017, the event’s third year, they had cars from 21 states and four countries. 

“We had some of the most valuable cars in the world showing up on our grass and it was extraordinary,” Stanford reminisced. One of which was a 1936 Bugatti Atlantic. There are only two in the world and one of them was there for everyone to experience at the 2017 show.

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“As Ed said, excellent cars, excellent judging and an excellent venue, and we were really well organized, so we could put on an event that came off seamlessly to our participants, our entrants,” Stanford added. “Without great cars, we can’t have a great show.”

But in 2018, right as the event was picking up speed, some unfortunate news threw a wrench in any future plans: the Arizona Biltmore was sold. Winkler and Stanford didn’t want to let the Arizona Concours go, so they began looking long and hard to find the perfect venue to host their flourishing event. However, Covid then delayed this process even further. But finally, they were able to negotiate terms with a new partner and here we are, preparing for the comeback of the Arizona Concours d’Elegance!

Arizona Concours dElegance_photo by Ken Bryant 2

“We had some of the most valuable cars in the world showing up on our grass and it was extraordinary,” Stanford reminisced. One of which was a 1936 Bugatti Atlantic. There are only two in the world and one of them was there for everyone to experience at the 2017 show.

A THRILLING PARTNERSHIP

While it may have taken longer than anticipated, the partnership with Scottsdale Arts is one that the duo believes will accelerate their event. The combination of automobiles and art is unison that just makes sense, after all, with the meticulous detail that goes into automotive design, it’s an art form in itself that people can appreciate in the same way they can with any other type of art.

“We think we have found an absolutely wonderful partner with Scottsdale Arts because it’s gonna take our event from just a high-level excellent Concours to a real social event. To an event that people will attend who have not historically gone to car shows,” Winkler explains. “Scottsdale Arts will be able to provide that link between the art side of the community and automobiles.”

A LOOK AHEAD

Even though this year is the Arizona Concours d’Elegance’s big comeback, Winkler and Stanford are already making plans for the future of the event. They want to continue on the legacy that they built during their time at the Biltmore and reproduce what they know and what they know they are capable of to ensure their vision for the Arizona Concours becomes a reality.

Arizona Concours dElegance_photo by Patrick Ernzen 1

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“This is not a one-and-done deal,” Winkler says as he reiterates the time and effort that goes into the event. The time and effort, in addition to the money spent and resources used to put on an event of this caliber, are proof that the duo wouldn’t be going into this for just one final lap.

“We want an event that is really reaching for the top that shows elegance in cars at a level that many people don’t understand,” Stanford explains. “To be able to have a beautiful day for people who want to come and spend this day as a lifestyle event, for enthusiasts who want to meet at the very top of the car culture, car designers, car builders, race drivers.”

THIS YEAR’S EVENT

The theme of the 2023 Arizona Concours d’Elegance event is The Art of Aerodynamics, where the two are planning to showcase an assembly of cars that highlight the development of aerodynamics in automobiles throughout the years. Their goal is to have cars that people have never seen before to ensure this event provides its guests with a worthwhile experience.

Arizona Concours dElegance_photo by Ken Bryant 1

These rare vehicles will be judged by a panel of about 50 to 60 judges who will go through a fully operational example of each car, ensuring that it is not only pleasing to the eye but that it’s a functional vehicle as well. 

There will be an estimated 100 vehicles there for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts to enjoy! Tickets for the event are on sale and can be purchased here.

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