The Stunning Concepts and Motorcycles of Villa D’Este
Photography by Federico Bajetti
Can motorcycles or brand-new concept cars be featured in a Concours d’Elegance? Yes, they can.
I’ve always admired Villa d’Este for its variety and great diversification. The vehicles on display cannot just be judged by their age and place in history, but also by their sheer beauty. Motorcycles and concept cars bring the perfect balance to the event lineup, and add more interest to the event.
I confess that every year I feel guilty for not dedicating enough time to the bikes on display. This year, I wanted to spend few more moments with these old bikes and do them justice. Each time you come back from a ride on a bike you have a story to tell, because motorcycling is always an adventure—I wanted to imagine the stories these special motorcycles have lived through.
Bikes are just as stunning as classic cars. They have more mechanical details compared to aesthetic ones: the switches, the exposed choke of the carburetors, the transmission, the chain and the engine. Especially on older motorcycles, you see everything—there’s nothing between the rider and the mechanical parts underneath.
The bikes that were on display covered a century of two wheeled racing and travelling. From an early 1912 Puch Type N to a wonderful Harley Davidson Model 10, to the Guzzi 750 S3, and BMW S1000 RR superbike—there was certainly many different takes on the two-wheel theme.
Why motorcycles are often snubbed by motoring enthusiasts I’ll never know: it’s a part of the motoring hobby that’s still very accessible to nearly everyone and fun in every way.
The winner of the Concorso Motociclette price was a 1974 Munich 4-TTS-E,an old German bike that was the first production motorcycle with 100 horsepower. Not a bad choice, in my opinion.
Aside from motorcycles, the other “alternative” attraction to Villa d’Este is the concept car class, which never fails to amaze the crowd.
Modern concept cars retain much of the exuberance that older ones had, and this year, the new concepts were quite provocative.Inspired directly by legends of the past, we saw four cars in particular that took heritage vehicles as inspiration: the Mostro Zagato, BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage, Touring Superleggera Berlinetta Lusso, and the Lamborghini Asterion. These concepts are futuristic re-interpretations of classics: the Mostro is the “new version” of the homonymous Costin-Zagato Maserati 450S, the BMW of the legendary 3.0 CSL, the Touring is a direct inspiration of the elegant Ferrari 2-seater berlinettas of the ’50s and the last one—a hybrid with nearly 1,000 hp that takes direct inspiration from the iconic Miura. These new cars have in their lines the same artistic freedom of their counterparts from the past. You may call them outrageous, soulless and (yes) filled with electronics, but their incredible presence and character is undeniable. I personally like the idea of new cars inspired by the old ones, even if the line cannot be possibly called “retro”. There’s a strong difference between the sort of concept cars we saw at Villa d’Este and an obsessively repeated “vintage” line. In the present day, manufacturers cannot fool their customers with old-looking designs—these are a step beyond what came before them.
While I was at the event I talked to Filippo Perini, the head of Design of Lamborghini, and he told me that he took inspiration from the gentlemen’s cars of the past to create the Asterion: a more “relaxed”-looking car that has in its veins the same blood of the first cars produced by Lamborghini, the 3000 and 3500 GT. Its interior was the most elegant, handmade combination of high technology and traditional craftsmanship.
The same I could say with the BMW Hommage: I was told that the veteran British driver who campaigned the original CSL back in the day shed a few tears of emotion in seeing a new model based on his old racing car.
Possibly, the most interesting one from a “classic” point of view is the Berlinetta Lusso by Touring. It’s a modernization of the idea of a classic GT car. Based on the chassis and powertrain of a Ferrari F12, it wants to represent the strong desire in the high-end market for an elegant and handmade 2-seater coupe. It will be a limited production car like some of the other concepts at the show.
I think we’re in the second pioneering era of car history, and we cannot ignore it. I want to be clear that carburetors are still fun and have lots of character, but there’s something intriguing at looking at the what’s next for our supercars: it is notable that a part of the heritage is still there, alive and well.