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2019 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este
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90th anniversary
First held 90 years ago, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este is the oldest event of its type still in existence. Perhaps, it is better to say, in existence again as it was revived during the 1990s. For the last 20 year, it has been under the patronage of BMW and ranks among the most prestigious of all concours d'elegance. What has not changed over the years is the startling backdrop of the Villa d'Este Hotel on the shores of Lake Como and the exclusive nature of the event. The latter is not necessarily by choice as the hotel's garden can really accommodate around 50 cars, so that is where the entry is capped at. Also carried over from the original event has been the Coppa d'Oro Villa d'Este, which is the best of show by public referendum and is the most coveted of all awards. In recent years, the Concorso d'Eleganza has been brought forward somewhat with the hope of getting some better weather. That did not work out so well this year as the heavens opened just as the parade was about to begin.
Our reporters did brave the weather and have returned with a class-by-class 180-shot gallery of the 2019 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este

Prelude Tour
The Villa d'Este Hotel sits on the shores of Lake Como in Northern Italy, which is among the most scenic areas of the world. To allow participants in the Concorso d'Eleganza entrants a chance to enjoy the truly spectacular scenery, the program was expanded this year with the Prelude Tour. All cars entered were invited to join, and around two dozen took up the invitation. They were joined by a selection of BMW guests, which made for an impressive looking and sounding parade that lasted for much of Thursday. The route started along the Northern shores of Lake Como and then up into the mountains towards Switzerland. One of the absolute highlights on the route was the stop at the Balcone d'Italia or Balcony of Italy. At 1,302 metres above sea level, it has been named one of the beautiful places in Italy by the Italian National Trust. The terrace offers a panoramic view of the Lake Lugano, which sits at the foot of the snow covered peaks of the Swiss Alps.

Exquisite Alfa Romeos
Although the company dates back to 1910, Alfa Romeo really started building interesting cars from the moment Enzo Ferrari convinced the Milanese manufacturer to hire engineer Vittorio Jano from Fiat. His first creation was the 6C 1500 of which a very unusual example was entered in this year's Concorso d'Eleganza. Not only was it one of just a handful built to SS or Super Sport specification, it was also bodied by the Atcherlery brothers, who predominantly worked on motorcycles. The car has come full circle as it was presented by the grandson of one of the two Atcherlery brothers. The 6C 1500 SS lined up alongside a slightly later Zagato bodied 6C 1750 Gran Sport of the type that was piloted to the 1930 Mille Miglia victory by Tazio Nuvolari with an average of over 100 km/h. Perhaps the most striking of all Alfa Romeos entered was brought by local hero and Villa d'Este veteran Corrado Lopresto. Dubbed 'La Fleche' or the arrow, this 1900C SS based machine was first shown on the Vignale stand of the 1955 Turin Motor Show. As with most Vignale designs of the day, La Fleche was penned by Giovanni Michelotti.

Wild show cars
The eighth and final class of the Concorso d'Eleganza was reserved for four particularly wild show cars of the second of the 1960s through to 1970. The earliest of the quartet was the Pontiac-based Vivant 77 of 1965. It was created by Herb Adams, who was in charge of muscle car development at General Motors and wanted to proof that a muscle car could also wear a designer suit. Also built in the United States was the truly ming boggling Gyro-X, which can drive using just its two tandem wheels thanks to a massive gyroscope mounted ahead of the driver's compartment. Also included were a pair of creations by Italy's carrozzeria. First up was the Lamborghini Marzal, which was created by Bertone with the idea of developing a four-seater version of the Miura. The fantastic Marcello Gandini design sported massive gull-wing doors and a bespoke straight six engine. It remained in the Bertone collection until a few years ago and since then has been meticulously restored. Also benefitting from a recent restoration was the Pininfarina designed Ferrari 512 S Modulo. Based on a Le Mans racer, the ultra-low machine features a one-piece canopy roof and can now run under its own power for the first time in its existence.

Coppa d'Oro
Despite the torrential rain on Saturday afternoon, the parade continued and as always culminated with the presentation of the Coppa d'Oro Villa d'Este; the best of show chosen by public referendum. Taking the top honours was the fabulous Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta brought from the United States by David and Ginny Sydorick for whom it was not the first Coppa d'Oro. Considered by some as the first supercar, the 8C 2900B may well be Jano's finest creation for Alfa Romeo. The car is effectively a Grand Prix car for the road and the competition versions of the '2.9' also scored major victories. One even held the largest ever lead at Le Mans until it sadly broke down. Sydorick's 8C 2900B is, however, very much a road car and understood to be the very first fitted with the fabulous Touring Berlinetta body. Compared to the later cars, the beautifully restored machine sports a more steeply raked radiator and horns built into the front fenders. The victory did not come as a surprise as it had been awarded 'Best of Show' at Pebble Beach in 2018 and one of its sister cars is also a former winner at Villa d'Este. The panel of specialist judges wholeheartedly agreed with the public and in addition to the Coppa d'Oro, the 8C 2900B was also awarded the Trofeo BMW Group for best of show by the jury.

Final thoughts
A truly unique event, the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este rarely disappoints and this year was certainly not one of the exceptions. Each of the cars entered had an interesting design and/or history, which underlines that being invited to the event is am achievement of its own. Even the torrential conditions on Saturday did not dampen the spirits. All of the remarkable cars entered can be seen in our 180-shot gallery. We also sincerely hope that the Prelude Tour will be a set fixture on the event program as nothing beats seeing cars drive on the open road, particularly if the backdrop is so beautiful as it is around Lake Como.


Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Tobias Bijl, Laura Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com