Concorso D’Eleganza at Villa d’Este Is A Sight To Behold
Photography by Federico Bajetti
A Concours d’Elégance often makes a car enthusiast question his car knowledge. I must admit that after both the Mille Miglia and Villa d’Este, I think I may need to pass some time as a hermit, on a tall mountain with a vast library before calling myself a “car enthusiast” again!
Villa d’Este never fails to amaze: you can go a full year before seeing an Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, and then at this concours, you come to see things that are from outer realms of the car hobby.
The most “common” car there was probably the BMW 507 Roadster—one can define the Concorso d’Eleganza held at Villa d’Este as the most exciting static exhibition of cars anywhere in the world.
From a certain point of view Villa d’Este looks like one of the most elegant and intriguing parking lots ever assembled. There are other few places where you can experience such a connoisseur’s pick of top class historics: three Pegasos, the classic array of fabulous Ferraris, unique supercars like the AMC AMX/3, and many more.
What I like about events like these is that you can talk to any automotive celebrity and you do have time to spend with some of the people you admire—you have time to sit with them, have a drink, talk about cars, have a few laughs and maybe exchange your contacts.
If the Mille Miglia is a feast for your all of your senses, Villa d’Este is a proper petrolhead’s rest. There’s no better way in relaxing under a tree with a glass of sparkling wine, admiring the cars and the surroundings.
Each car there deserves an honorable mention and to my eyes there’s no way that a single one can be possibly declared the winner of the Concorso. Walking among these cars, I am torn to choose the best among the utterly stunning Pegaso Cupula, an extravagant car made in Spain for the Dictator of the Dominican Republic, an unrestored Ferrari 250 GT ‘Tour de France’ in its original Blue color, and the two Maserati A6Gs with Zagato coachwork.
The story of each car is different: the Ferrari 250 was displayed in the same condition it was while in a Finnish barn. Its caretakers changed the oil, put new gasoline in the tank, gave it a quick mechanical check-up, and it ran OK…at least well enough to see out the weekend.
The two Maseratis Zagato were true attention seekers: the A6G is the connoisseur’s Italian GT: its functional aerodynamic lines made it the most elegant and sexy-looking car on display. I was told by the restorer that being a Zagato it’s so delicate that exposing it to constant road use would deteriorate the car: and so it goes for a lightweight car from the 50ies. In my opinion, such peculiarities almost increase the appeal of the car.
Aside from these cars, there were many more that deserve mention: the McLaren M1A that was owned by Elvis Presley, one of three black BMW M1s, a duo of a Lamborghini Miura and a Countach, an ex-Sandro Munari Lancia Stratos Alitalia, and a Ferrari Dino 206 S.
The pre-war cars are always the most curious, and the public just loves them. To celebrate the Rolls-Royce Phantom’s 90th anniversary, there was a specific class of which all R-R models were present, from a 1929 Series I in Chrome Yellow, to a Series VI of the early seventies.
Winner of the “Coppa d’Oro”, the Concorso’s top honor went to a Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta that used to be the property of Gianni Agnelli and was the first Ferrari owned by Belgian endurance racing legend Olivier Gendebien.
The “Best in Show” was given to an 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, which—by the way—had the best sound of all the cars there. Villa d’Este is amazing. Not only you have two days of fine motoring, but you savor the sights and sounds of Lake Como. It’s about the cars, the people, and the wonderful wine you can drink—one eye on the lake, the other on the cars.