A fantastic park on the shores of Lake Como, an impressive Grandhotel and a selection of 51 dream classics: this is the mixture that makes every years Concorso d’Eleganza at the Villa D’Este one of the most appealing classic car events all over the world. An exclusive weekend, which was re-launched by the BMW Group years ago, at the place, where the automobile beauty show started in 1929.
This year, the Concorso D’Eleganza was held under the motto „In eighty days around the world – voyage through an era of records“. As in 1873, when Jules Verne had written the book, the Villa D’Este was opened as a Grand Hotel. Only a few years later, the history of the automobile began and more and more adventurers discovered the world with their vehicles, which surpassed each other as rolling works of art.
The highlight took place on the Saturday of the last weekend in May: the presentation of the high-class vehicles in the park of Villa D’Este, as well as 88 years ago. The highlight of the Concorso d’Eleganza is the presentation ride over the Terrace of the Grand Hotel, passing the guests, marveling at the beauties while enjoying champagne.
In nine classes, the classic cars entered the beauty contest for the coveted Coppa D’Oro. There were some rare rarities among the vehicles. Real items, such as the Astra Coupé, built in 1952 by US American custom car designer Jay Everett. Everett was only 24 years old when he designed the vehicle. This vehicle is an absolute unique and is characterized by a very clear and progressive shape for the 50s. In order to allow the lowered front, the Oldsmobile V8 radiator was placed in the rear of the vehicle. The Astra Coupé is built on a tubular frame with an aluminum skin.
Another unique was presented in the class „Little Toys for Big Boys“ – The Alfa Romeo Giulietta SS Prototipo. The design – an unusually long-drawn body with a heavily beveled front end, a low roof line and a smoothly drawn rear, has been adapted by designer Franco Scagliones to the BAT Mobile. At the time, Scaglione worked for Bertone, a coachbuilder and created the aerodynamic design for the Giulietta Sprint Special Prototype, which was presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1957. The prototype still differs significantly from the later series models. The front tilts sharply downwards, which had brought him the nickname „Dropnose“. After the presentation at the Turin Motor Show in 1957, the car disappeared for almost 60 years.
Now the Italian collector of unique prototypes, Corrado Lopresto, presented these prototype from 1957 at the Concorso D’Eleganza 2017 and won the prize „Best of Show“, the jury prize.
The Coppa D’Oro also won a genuine rarity, the Lurani Nibbio from 1935. It was built by Giovanni Lurani Cernuschi VII. Count of Calvenzano, racing driver, sort-functionary, jounalist, engineer, racing stallion owner and Publisher, designed this little just 495 ccm with 48 horsepower racing car, with which he drove almost 160 races, including the Mille Miglia, with three classifications. The vehicle from Lurani’s own production was equipped with a Moto Guzzi V2 engine. The racing bolide reached a top speed of over 160 km / h and set eight world records. The award was received by Lurani’s grandson Federico Göttsche Bebert. The vehicle is still family-owned in the third generation.
The opinion of the audience was split by the Maserati A6G / 2000 Grand Sport Coupé with a Frua body, which was auctioned several years ago at the auction of the Baillon collection. The „barnfind“ was technically completely overhauled by its owner from the USA, but the patina of the vehicle has been preserved as far as possible, purly in the sense of originality. Since his revival, the owner Jonathan Segal has already driven about 3000 kilometers with the vehicle. Unfortunately the Maserati did not want to run for the drive over the terrace of the hotel and had to be pushed past the audience. Nevertheless the vehicle found many admirers.
Oldest vehicle in the field was the Lancia 12 HP Tipo 51 Alfa from the collection of the Italian collector Corrado Lopresto, , built in 1908. It is the oldest existing Lancia. Sometimes it was worthwhile to see the interiors of the exhibits, like in the case of the pre-war vehicles. For example in the 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom I Brougham de Ville, whose landaulet font is a real surprise. The interior is modeled after a sedan of Marie Antoinette. It looks like a small rococo room. Clarence Gasque, once financial director of the Wollworth Group in London, once made this splendor for his wife. The magnificent car is also nicknamed „Phantom of Love“. The Jury Prize for the most beautiful interior, however, went to the owners of the Tatra 77 C-30 from 1933.
In the class „Good Bye Jazz-Hello Radio: Fullspeed into the 1930s“ two large convertibles of the German pre-war history competed. On the one hand, the Horch 853 A Sportcabriolet with a displacement of 5 liters and 120 hp, presented in Berlin at the Auto Show in 1935, and the Mercedes-Benz 770 Convertible with a displacement of 7.7 liters. He was the largest representative vehicle of his time. But winner in the class became the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Tourismo of 1932, with a special body from Castagna.
Impressive racing and record cars presented themselves In the class „Speed Demons – Endurance Pioneers often the Golden Age“. The Bentley 4 ½ liter with its long drawn-out streamline bodywork, which was once driven by Sir Henry Ralph Stanley Birkin at a round record on the Brooklands record, acts brachially. Birkin reached an average speed of 222.03 km / h. The consumption also proved to be a record, because it was almost 100 liters per 100 kilometers. In September 1921, the French Ballot 3/8 LC won at the very first Italian Grand Prix. For the Italian nation a bitter defeat, since one hoped to the successful victory of an Italian brand. But the Ballot also proved itself very successful at the 500 mile race in Indianapolis and finished in seventh place in 1920 and third place in 1922. In 1923 the ballot came to England and was piloted by Malcolm Campbell and Jack Dunfee.
A record-breaking vehicle from a later era is the Abarth 1000 Bialbero Record from 1960, with which, in the same year, several speed records were recorded for a record-breaking ride on the Monza Autodrome. Including the record in the class 1.1 liters during the 10,000 kilometers circuit, with an average speed of 191.376 km / h.
The Salmson G-72 Coupe from 1951 with a Saotschik bodywork is pure elegance. In contrast to former Saotchik bodies, the Salmson body is rather modest, but still very elegant. Luxurious elegance is represented by the Lagonda Rapide from 1962. Strongly in contrast, the Fiat 8V Supersonic from 1953, with a sheet dress from Ghia.
On the occasion of Ferrari’s seventieth birthday, the relevant exhibits weren´t missing. Including the single piece Ferrari 250 Europa GT Speciale from 1955, with Pinin Farina special body.
This Ferrari is a real One of One. It has a few special features, such as the elliptical shaped radiator grill with the framed Ferrari horse, two rear-window wipers and a beautiful dashboard. The Ferrari 250 GT California Spider is one of the most expensive vehicles on the market. At the Concorso D’Eleganza 2017, the American owner brought the California Spider Prototype from 1957. The Ferrari 365 GTB / 4 Competizione, which proved himself particularly successful in Daytona, was loud and impressive. The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB Competizione from 1960, which contested at the Tour de France from 1961 to 1963 and achieved the fourth place in the last participation, also has pure racing genes.
Around one-third of all registered vehicles came from overseas this year, such as Australia, Argentinia and the USA. Also from the USA came the Fiat 1100 Barchetta, which was designed by Pietro Frua at Stabilimenti Farina. This vehicle celebrated a jubilee, because it was shown exactly 70 years ago at the Concorso D’Eleganza in 1947. At that time the Fiat 1100 took second the place. This year the car went unfortunately without a price.
The Sunday is the public day and the precious vehicles can be seen in the park of Villa Erba. In addition to some luxury sedans from the history of BMW, BMW presented the new concept car of the BMW 8 in the rotunda.