By: Cathy Burford
Once again, the iconic Arizona Biltmore was the setting for the Arizona Concours D’ Elegance on Sunday, January 24, 2016. Living up to its name, this showcase of rare vehicles gives attendees the opportunity to see beautifully stylish, well-designed automobiles, some dating back to the late 1800’s. Classified in such diverse groups as “Exceptional Cars of Great Britain”, “Avant Garde – Pre 1973”, “Pre-War Sports & Racing”; there were categories to satisfy the automotive tastes of gearheads everywhere. The Phoenix Automotive Press Association “Papa” has partnered with the Concours to create an annual award for the unique entry with the best “story” attached to the vehicle. Selecting a winner is no easy task, as all of the entrants have a tale to tell.
It seems only fitting that the winner of the Papa “Best Story Award” this year has a collection full of “things” with stories attached to them, Arizona’s own Alan Travis. In fact, Travis only collects vehicles with verifiable histories. This year he was awarded the first place “Story Award” for his 1898 Jean Perrin Voiturette Vis à Vis. Voiturette literally means “cart” and this lovely French incarnation of the automobile could be used as either a horse drawn cart, or motor carriage (by turning the front seat forward to be horse drawn, opposed to the Vis à Vis, “face to face” configuration when operating it with the rear motor). Believed to be one of only two such vehicles in the world today, this is the only one that runs! Born during the frantic years of automobilism’s infancy, this is the oldest French production car model. Preserved under a layer of burlap and hay during the era spanning the second Boer War, WWI and WWII, this little beauty emerged after a 60-year slumber to a world desperately protective of its inventions and arts. This led Jean Perrin’s son to ship the Voiturette from France to America in 1951 to protect it should any more ravaging wars ensue. It was Barney Pollard who brought the car to the US with its accompanying 18 pages of this Voiturette’s history (in French) in 1951. The meticulous restoration of this wood and metal wonder by Alan Travis made it roadworthy, and it has competed (and completed) the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run during a stint in the UK in 2014, as well as runs in the USA. This is one instance where a vintage automobile literally can “talk” due to the care taken in preserving its amazing historical journey.
Coming in second in the “Best Story Award” was another vehicle that also spent some time (WWII) covered in hay for protection. The 1937 Ford Eifel (not as in tower) Roadster, entered by Ron and Sheryl Clarke of Paradise Valley, is truly one-of-a-kind. Having undergone a complete restoration, this car is beyond beautiful! Its rare combination of Ford of Cologne, Germany Eifel engineering and Stoewer roadster body is believed to be the only one in existence. Let’s hear it for the American serviceman who purchased the car in 1956 and shipped it to the US! Once again, it took the love of one man to make sure this gem was preserved so that we are able to admire it today. The continued protective stewardship of Ron and Sheryl Clarke makes this car a story to warm the heart of any auto enthusiast.
Congratulations to both our recipients!