Postcard from Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este

Concorso D’Eleganza Villa D’Este is a renowned elegance competition for classic and vintage cars. It has taken place every year since 1929 during the last weekend of April at the the Grand Hotel Villa D’Este on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, in the affluent town of Cernobbio.

Since 1999 BMW Group has been the primary organiser of this invitation only concours, bringing together approximately 50 of the globe’s most significant collectors/concept cars and for the last 2 years, an equally stunning motorcycle display. Viewing is open to invited guests only on the Saturday, before the cars are relocated to the nearby Spazia Villa Erba (where the public selects Sunday’s overall winners) and new for 2011, was RM Auction’s Saturday evening sale, where the Canadian auction house offered just 32 cars, almost a third of which, had reserves exceeding € 1million.  The sale posted over €23 million ($33,436,750 USD), pretty amazing stuff.

With much to see in both locations and 90 degrees of Italian sunshine, these were my highlights….

East coast Americans Jim Glickenhaus and Peter Kalikow, are long time Ferrari devotees – both have collaborated with Ferrari SPA over more than a decade, in building unique cars for their collections. For the last 18 months, Jim has been working on P4/5 Competizione (http://www.p45c.com/), a 430 based, GT endurance spec racer (which successfully completed the previous weekend, in the Nurburgring Six Hours), whilst Peter’s latest addition is Superamerica 45 a 599 based, 2 door GT… so called as he owns an original 410 Superamerica and has been a collector for 45 years.

Designed by Charles Robinson Sykes and first manufactured in February 1911, the “Spirit of Ecstasy” or “Flying Lady”, has adorned Rolls Royces ever since… despite Sir Henry Royce’s initial reluctance. Nicknamed “Emily”, after the lady whom was allegedly depicted in the original sculpture, it was fitting that Norbert Seeger helped mark the mascot’s centenary, by collecting 3 awards over the weekend.

Celebrating its 75th birthday in 2011, is one of my all time favourites – the pre war BMW 328. Designed by Peter Szymanowski and Fritz Fiedler, it featured 2 automotive innovations – a tubular space-frame and a 6 cylinder, 1971 cc engine, complete with hemispherical combustion chambers. Just 464 examples were completed at BMW’s Eisenach factory between 1936 and 1940 and 3 provided the central display, in BMW’s pavillion, at Spazia Villa D’Erba….all freshly fettled and polished, from their successful completion of the previous weeks Mille Miglia retrospective.

Combining good looks, high performance and competitive pricing, the Jaguar E type exploded onto the automotive stage at the 1961 Geneva Motor Show. With 70,000 units built over the ensuing 14 years, it remains one of the most iconic cars ever produced. To mark its Golden Jubilee, Concorso organisers invited two of the most significant E Types extant (the above car), now owned by Swiss enthusiast Christian Jenny and the unique, factory built, low-drag Lightweight competition version (which has just completed a 5 year rebuild, at CMC in Bridgnorth UK) owned by Peter Neumark.                      

Villa D’Este Awards

Trofeo BMW Group
Best in Show by the Jury

Alfa Romeo, 33 Stradale, Berlinetta, Scaglione, 1968, Clive Joy, UK

Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este
Best of Show by Public Referendum at Villa d’Este
Alfa Romeo, 6C 2500 SS, Coupé, Bertone, 1942, Corrado Lopresto, Italy

Class A: CLOSED FOR COMFORT
Class Winner
Talbot-Lago, T23, Coupé Royal, Figoni & Falaschi, 1938, Joseph Cantore, USA

Mention of Honour
Delage, D8 105 S, Coupé, Autobineau, 1935, Alex Vazeos, Greece

Class B: OPEN SKY
Class Winner
Delage, D8 S, Roadster, de Villars, 1933, James Patterson, USA
Mention of Honour
Mercedes-Benz, 380 K W22, Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz, 1934, Berthold Albrecht, Germany

Class C: FIFTIES CHIC – CARS FOR THE JET SET
Class Winner
Ferrari, 212 Export, Berlinetta, Vignale, 1951, Peter McCoy, USA


Mention of Honour
Lancia, Aurelia B24 S ‘America’, Spider, Pinin Farina, 1955, Efisio Carutti, Italy

Class D: NEW DAWN – SMALL CAR, BIG PERFORMANCE
Class Winner
Siata, 400 F, Berlinetta, Balbo, 1953, Jan De Reu, Belgium
Mention of Honour
Siata, 208 S, Spider, Motto, 1953, Robert Davis, USA

Class E: SWINGING SIXTIES STYLE
Class Winner
Ferrari, 250 GT SWB California, Spider, Scaglietti, 1963, Jean-Pierre Slavic, Switzerland
Mention of Honour
Lamborghini , 400 GT, Coupé, Touring, 1966, Dietmar Götz, D

Class F: THE BIRTH OF THE SUPERCAR
Class Winner
Alfa Romeo, 33 Stradale, Berlinetta, Scaglione, 1968, Clive Joy, UK
Mention of Honour
Lamborghini , Miura S, Berlinetta, Bertone, 1970, Konstantin Ioannidis, Switzerland

Class G: MASTERS OF CREATIVITY
Class Winner
BMW, 2000 CS, Coupé, Karmann, 1966, Michael Ulbig, Germany
Mention of Honour
Glas, 3000 V8, Coupé, Frua, 1967, Christoph Schnyder, Switzerland

Class H: COLOUR AND SPEED – POST-WAR RACING ICONS
Class Winner
Ferrari, 375 MM, Spider, Pinin Farina, 1953, Andreas Mohringer, Austria
Mention of Honour
Jaguar, E-Type Lightweight, Low Drag Coupé, Jaguar, 1963, Peter Neumark, UK

Trofeo Rolls-Royce
To the most elegant Rolls-Royce by the Jury
Rolls-Royce, Phantom II, Special Town Car, Brewster, 1933, Norbert Seeger, Liechtenstein

Trofeo FIVA
To the best preserved pre-war car by the Jury
Rolls-Royce, Phantom II, Special Town Car, Brewster, 1933, Norbert Seeger, Liechtenstein

Trofeo ASI
To the best preserved post-war car by the Jury
Mercedes-Benz, 300 SL, Roadster, Mercedes-Benz, 1962, Heiko Seekamp, Germany

Trofeo Automobile Club di Como
To the car driven from farthest away
Bugatti 57 Ventoux, Coach, 1937, Andrea Capra, Switzerland

Trofeo BMW Group Classic
For the most sensitive restoration by the Jury
Aston Martin, DB5, Convertible, Touring, 1965, Jim Utaski, USA

Trofeo Rolls-Royce
To the most elegant Rolls-Royce by the Jury
Rolls-Royce, Phantom II, Special Town Car, Brewster, 1933, Norbert Seeger, Liechtenstein

Trofeo Vranken Pommery
To the best iconic car by the Jury
Jaguar, E-Type, Coupé, Jaguar, 1961, Christian J. Jenny, Switzerland

Trofeo Foglizzo
The best interior design by the Jury
Fiat, 8V, Berlinetta, Rapi, 1953, Martin Gruss, USA

Trofeo Auto & Design
To the most exciting design by the Jury
Ford, GT40 MkII, Coupé, FAV, 1965, Claude Nahum, CH

Picture gallery

RM Auction

Consistent with its European expansion, RM has signed a multi-year deal to host an auction at Villa D’Este, alternating with its established sale at the Monaco Historique Grand Prix and for its first event, offered a diverse catalogue of 32 of the globe’s most important and collectible marques, displayed and auctioned under 2 separate, adjacent superstructures. Top sale of the evening, was the unique Ferrari 375MM Pininfarina Special Sport Berlinetta (€3.4 million incl BP), closely matched by a multiple concours winning Talbot Lago “Teardrop” (€3.1million) and a race ready, 1957 Ferrari 500TRC (€2.8million), whilst the sad demise of styling house Bertone, meant the inclusion of six, one-off show cars, including the Stratos Zero (€762k) and the Lamborghini Marzal (€1.5 million) – of the seven Ferrari’s offered, only one was a “no sale”. Also finding new homes were a jaded BMW 507 roadster (€728k), a uniquely hued Bizzarrini 5300GT Strada(€400k) and despite both the 1976 Pebble Beach Concours winning Bugatti Type 57 SC Atalante and prototype Ford GT40 Roadster posted as no sales(with high bids of €2.1 million respectively)….. RM still grossed revenues of €23 million, in 2 hours of frenetic bidding.

Villa D’Erba     

Trofeo BMW Group Italia
Alfa Romeo, 33 Stradale, Berlinetta, Scaglione, 1968, Clive Joy, UK

Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award for Concept Cars & Prototypes
Aston Martin, Zagato, Coupé, 12 Cyl., 2011, Ulrich Bez, UK

On returning to the UK, came the sad news that American Pete Lovely who raced in 11 F1 Grand Prix’s as a Lotus privateer in 1959/’60/’70, was the first race winner at Laguna Seca Raceway, California (in a Ferrari TR!) and for the last 40 years had been a “historic” racer and ace preparer, had passed away.

Time to dust off the panama and flannels again as my schedule continues with another first  – a trip to West London and Salon Prive, with an accompanying RM Auction…. see you there!!

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