For the 20th edition of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este two subjects were the talk of the weekend. First one was the weather, which up to the weekend had been the worst in Como in about 70 years, and second was the amount of prizes that would be won by the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic, entered by Ralph Lauren. As it turned out, the weather did what we liked, after a difficult start on Friday morning with snow coming down as low as 800 meters above sea level, it gradually improved, resulting in a few spots of rain on Saturday and blue skies over Villa Erba on the Sunday. And yes, there was much more to talk about as this year's edition brought out many marvellous cars, not only because of what they are, but also because of the stories behind many of the cars. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lamborghini and 100 years of Aston Martin. Fittingly the organisers devoted two separate classes for both brands. As space in the Villa d'Este Garden comes at a premium, the number of pre-war classes was now reduced to two only. As usual the other classes were chosen around a theme, which varies each year, but always in such a way that a class can accommodate many different sorts of cars, allowing for a wide variety of automotive sculptures. First present in 2011, the RM auction house had for the second time set up shop on the premises of Villa Erba, bringing an eclectic selection of 38 motorcars and 2 Riva powerboats.
We braved the weather throughout the weekend, resulting in a 160-shot gallery
from the Concorso and a 50-shot gallery
from the auction.
Class A: Kings of the Road
This class brought together the stately pre-war cars, in the Concorso. It was duly won by the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance winner, the Mercedes-Benz 680 S Saoutchik Torpedo Roadster, with the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental, originally owned by the Sixth Earl of Roseberry, and now presented by Jay Moore as a deserved second. He also won the award for the Most Elegant Rolls-Royce.
Stealing the show was the Hibbard and Darrin bodied Hispano H6B owned by Hans Hulsbergen. The car was originally ordered by a Mr. Browning, of shotgun fame. During the parade the car was driven by a representative of the Royal Dutch Stables, while Mr. and Mrs. Hulsbergen performed a great act as waivers to the crowd.
Class B: Thoroughbreds
The more sporty pre-war cars were brought in this class, ranging from the Experimental Rolls Royce Phantom I EX17 of Alexander Schauffler to the Mercedes 500 K Spezial Roadster, which sees the road on a regular basis, driven by its owner Evert Louwman. As the class also featured the spectacular Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic, Louwman was quite happy to settle for second in class. Other cars of note were the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS of Steve Adler, which had completed the Mille Miglia a week earlier without a hitch and Ron Rezek's Lagonda LG45 Rapide, which already has a class win at the Quail concours to its tally.
Class C: Transitions
Here some of the luxury cars from the post war period were combined, where the transition element pointed to change in country of origin over time. The oldest car was the 1949 Franay bodied French Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport of Michael Kaufmann, while the newest car was the Ferrari 500 Superfast Prototype from 1964. As it happened, the Ferrari won its class, and the Talbot Lago came second. Also in this class was one of the last Talbot Lagos ever made, the T14LS of David Buchanan. This car won the prize for the most sensible restoration. Of note was the Bentley R-Type Continental Mulliner Fastback Coupe of Barry Fitzgerald. Originally owned by Giovanni Agnelli of Fiat, it is still proudly wearing its shiny Fiat-Blue colours today. The car went to Australia in 1959 and was back for the first time in Italy since then. The slightly later, Park Ward bodied Bentley S1 Continental from Cologne based Dean Kronsbein was the car that drove the greatest distance to the Concorso on its own wheels
Class D: Aston Martin
Eye catchers were of course the DB4GT Zagato (2 VEV) of David Eyles, which had been raced in period by Jim Clark, and the 2-Litre Sports "Spa Replica" of Daniel Waltenberg. Famous through appearances on the big and small screen were the DB4 Cabriolet of Brian Morrison and the DBS of Edward Stratton. The former was the actual star in the "Italian Job" movie, and while in the movie it ends its life after falling off a cliff, it turned out that a Lancia Flaminia Touring Cabriolet had to play this unworthy role, so the Aston is still with us, presented by the same man who was responsible for selecting the cars for the movie.
The DBS was the car that was used in the TV series The Persuaders, starring Roger Moore and Tony Curtis. The signatures of both are still visible on the inside of the rear bonnet. The car sports V8 logos on its side as the producers wanted to use a V8. Unfortunately Aston Martin did not have a car available yet, so they decided to dress up a six-cylinder DBS instead.
The class was won by the DB4 SS of Jean-Pierre Slavic, which has one the first 4.2 litre engines fitted. Under the watchful eyes of its designer Ercole Spada, the ex-Clark DB4 GT Zagato came second.
Class E: Prancing Horse versus Trident
Emulating the recent exposition in the Casa Enzo Ferrari Museum, here three Ferraris were put up against three A6G Maseratis. The latter included two Frua bodied examples and also the one-off Zagato Spider based on the A6G/54 2000 platform. While five of the six cars were of the open kind, it was the perfectly restored 250 GT SWB Coupe from the Destrieto Collection that ran away with the class win, beating the 250 GT SWB California of Claudio Cagiatti in the process. We were particularly taken by the 212 Export Barchetta of Jack Croul, a nice exception to the 166 MM or 340 MM Barchettas with similar Touring bodywork, we normally come across. One of just eight built, this 212 Export was originally sold to Ireland and driven to a class victory in the 1951 Tourist Trophy at Dundrod by local hero Bobby Baird.
Class F: California Dreaming
As the name suggest this class only had open cars, but not the kind of cruisers that you might expect on the 101 Highway. Instead a number of thinly disguised racing cars were brought together, which proved to be very popular in the American state in the 1950s and 1960s. Among them was the Porsche 356A Speedster of Ni Peng Loh, the first time ever Chinese entry as far as we can remember, the rare Jaguar XKSS of Peter Neumark and the brutal AC Shelby Cobra of Kurt Engelhorn. The latter probably never actually hit the streets in California as it is one of only a few built with right hand drive steering for AC's domestic, British market. The ever impressive XKSS won the class, followed by the Siata 208S of James Utaski. The Porsche won the prize for the most Iconic car by the Jury.
Class G: Speed and Style
Bringing together a number of closed sports cars, with similar backgrounds as the open cars in the previous class, not just grand tourers, but pure racers, highlighted by the presence of the only Ferrari 250 LM Stradale from the Lionshead West Collection. Corrado Lopresto brought his Stratos based Lancia Sibilo which he picked up from the RM auction at Villa Erba two years earlier, while the Ferrari 250 GT TdF of Peter McCoy pleased the eye with its striking two tone silver-red colour scheme.
Obviously the Jury was impressed by the two Ferraris too, as the LM Stradale won best in class and the TdF came second. A special prize for the best interior went to the Rapi bodied Fiat 8V of Bruce Vanyo.
The BMW M1 of Detlef Huebner, the only M1 that was delivered in light grey, received the prize for the best preserved post-war car.
Class H: Lamborghini
The entries here ranged from the very first Lamborghini, the Franco Scaglione designed 350 GTV to the car that many consider to be the most beautiful Lamborghini (or any car) ever produced, the Miura SV. Each of the five cars entered were quite special examples and also included the first of just two 350 GT Spiders built and a 350 GT Interim, which combined the 350 GT chassis and body with the larger, four-litre engine later found in the 400 GT. The original prototype, it had just over 2000 km on the odometer. Also using the four-litre V12 but fitted in a shortened chassis was the unique Touring Flying Star II. This is the swan-song of the Touring company, as it was the last car they ever produced under their own name.
It must have been very difficult for the jury to pass judgement here, but in the end the
350 GTS, Spider of Emanuel Reich took the class win, with the 350 GTV of Albert Spiess coming second.
Class I: Racing Improves the Breed
Here the selection committee has a wide range of choices, and the result is always a very mixed bunch of cars, sharing racing pedigree as their common denominator. Probably the most unknown car was the sole surviving (of about 20 made) Fiat 508CS MM of Giuseppe Boscarino, fitted with an all-aluminium body made by Savio. People may also have looked in astonishment to the Bandini 750 Siluro of Alex Vazeos, whose preference for small cars may have found a new highlight in this 73 HP mini racer, which tips the scales at just 280 kg. Then there was Peter Briggs from Australia with his freshly restored MG K3, in which Nuvolari won the 1933 Tourist Trophy. Austrian Andreas Mohringer brought the original Dino Prototype which finished fourth overall at the Nurburging 1000 KM in 1965, fitted with a 1600 cc engine, later replaced by the two-litre engine from the second prototype which had been written off just two months after its commissioning.Completing the class was the 250 TdF of Martin Gruss, which also had just completed the Mille Miglia retrospective.
The Class win was for the Dino, with the TdF coming second. A special prize went to Peter Briggs, for the best overall appearance of car, driver and passenger by the Jury.
Concept Cars & Prototypes
In the tradition of the original Concorso a number of contemporary concept cars were lined up in front of the Hotel Villa d'Este. Apart form the Subaru Viziv Diesel-Hybrid Crossover, all entries were basically sportscars or as some would call them supercars. In keeping with the special Aston Martin class, the British manufacturer brought along the CC100 concept car that had been launched earlier in the month to celebrate the company's centenary. True to the 'prototype' moniker was the P1 brought by McLaren. Although beautifully finished, the car on display was one of the development chassis of the upcoming hybrid supercar. Of the 375 slated for production around 75% have already been allocated while McLaren are now looking who on the oversubscribed list will receive the rest of the 'slots'. The concept cars were not judged by the Jury, but only by Public Referendum during the Sunday presentation at Villa Erba. The winner was the Alfa Romeo 8C Disco Volante, designed by Paul Koot's recently re-established Touring design studio.
Best of Show
As mentioned earlier, all eyes this weekend were on the formidable Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic brought by fashion magnate Ralph Lauren. The final of four examples built and one of just two completely original cars remaining, it was sold new to Englishman Richard Pope. Commissioned two years after the first three, this Atlantic boasts subtle differences like the separate headlights. Lauren acquired the car back in 1988 and had it restored by Paul Russell. Since then, it has won prizes at every concours the black Bugatti was entered. The Atlantic had already been scheduled to appear at Villa d'Este back in 2009 but then it was withdrawn at the last minute. There were no such issues this year and it duly collected all the silverware it was eligible for, including the Best of Show by the public at Villa d'Este (Coppa d'Oro), the Best of Show by the Jury (Trofeo BMW Group) and the newly established Trofeo BMW Group Ragazzi, the Best of Show picked by children under 16 years at Villa Erba.
RM Auctions Villa Erba Sale
Held under rather freezing conditions on Saturday night, auction master Max Girardo managed to keep the crowd entertained from 21.00 hours until well after midnight with just 38 cars and two boats crossing the block. Highlight of the weekend was the sale of the Ferrari 340/375 MM, which was hammered down at EUR 8.8 million, a world record for a closed Ferrari. The Ferrari alone generated about 1/3 of the total turnover of EUR 27 million (including buyers premium). In second spot came a Ferrari 400 SA Aerodinamico, which fetched well over EUR 2 million. Other highlights included a 275 GTB for around EUR 1 million, a 300 SL Roadster for about the same amount, and a delivery miles only 599 FXX, also for around a million. All of the 14 Ferraris offered sold rather well. Bids for the 1903 60HP Fiat stalled at EUR 1.3 million, just under the reserve price, which must have been close to the lower estimate of EUR 1.4 million. Obviously there were no boat lovers in the audience as both Rivas failed to sell.
The 20th edition of the Concorso brought together a splendid collection of cars, and ranks among the highlights of the editions we have visited so far. Despite initial fears regarding the weather conditions, no major disruptions took place, and even the grass on the Villa Erba field had dried up sufficiently to allow the cars to take their assigned spots on Sunday.
To share all of this we have prepared a 160-shot gallery
from Villa d'Este, and a separate 50-shot gallery
from the RM Auctions sale.