For all the flak that the “One Percent” takes from the plebes, you can’t say they don’t know how to have fun. A gorgeous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed resort, great January weather in Arizona, and a huge collection of exceedingly expensive cars all make for a really great day. Everyone also seemed to like the booze too, so there’s that.
The Concours d’Elegance (French for “competition of elegance” according to Wikipedia) is a remarkable show of very old autos. There are Concours d’Elegance events in several U.S. cities, like Pebble Beach, Calif. and Amelia Island, Fla., and in foreign cities including Lake Como, Italy and London. The Scottsdale event only began last year, but it certainly didn’t look like a fledgling group this year on the lawns of the Arizona Biltmore resort. There were a lot of people, a lot of cars, and clearly a lot of money these people can toss around on what they want.
I have never really paid much attention to the Concours d’Elegance shows before now, partly because I just don’t know very much about vehicles from these eras. From what I saw the newest cars there were the Ferrari Daytona or Mazda Cosmo, both from the early 1970s. Most of the other cars were at least 20 years older, and there were several cars I saw from 1909 and the 1910s. This show is not about muscle cars, big blocks and red Solo cups like the kinds I’m used to. The Concours d’Elegance is swanky, expensive and the cars are typcially very European. The dress code is nothing less than boarding school chic instead of cut off jeans and muscle shirts.
My brother, Kyle, and I weren’t really sure what to expect from the show since we aren’t exactly A-list celebrities. We don’t often get dressed up beyond our trips to church. The refreshing thing about the show was that everyone we interacted with was more than eager to share their enthusiasm for cars, just like what we have experienced at Cars and Coffee and Barrett-Jackson. Just because the formality of the event is bumped up a notch doesn’t mean the passion and camaraderie isn’t.
Because I know so little about automobiles this old I couldn’t authoritatively pick a favorite based on a combination of objective and subjective criteria like I can for newer cars. I didn’t know the powertrains, nor what was or wasn’t groundbreaking at the time. My choice was purely based on aesthetics. That said, I was particularly fond of some really classy Fiat and Alfa Romeo coupes from the 1960s. I was also particularly pleased with the Mazda Cosmo, based entirely on the fact that it had houndstooth patterned seats. We need more of that spunk in modern cars besides the GTI (although the GTI does it so well).
Kyle really liked a old Mercedes for no other reason than it was gorgeous. I like it also because it was really photogenic.
We didn’t stick around for the awarding of the prizes because we didn’t really even know what categories there were, who we would have voted for if we were judges, etc. It was just a lot of fun to spend a few hours living the way the other half does, light piano music playing over the loudspeaker and all, and the remaining pictures and video should sufficiently sum how awesome Concours d’Elegance was this year in Scottsdale.